Introduction to my forthcoming e-book entitled Improving Your Computer Posture:
You have probably found that you are sitting in front of a computer for longer and longer these days. An overwhelming number of jobs require it, and then when you get home you no doubt spend time on various Social Media, all leading to a host of aches and pains. It's bad enough that it affects your work life, but when it also starts to affect your hobbies you know it's time to take action. Your symptoms are not a natural by-product of aging, but a wake-up call that you are unconciosuly doing something harmful to yourself, something you can also learn to undo, leaving you free to enjoy your life and increase your performance and productivity.
I spent 12 years working in I.T. for Investments Banks and Stock Brokers, which, as you can imagine, is a highly demanding environment, so I fully understand the stress that work commitments place on you and how it contributes to your problems.
In some ways it might appear more engaging if this book was about helping you with something you are passionate about, like playing a musical instrument, or a sport. No doubt you are reading this because you are in pain, something musicians and sports people also have to contend with. However, the irony is, with less personal interest in the engagement with computers it will hopefully make it easier to encourage you take an interest in something else, that is, yourself! Musicians can become so focused on their instrument it makes it difficult for them to take notice of themselves even when they know it will benefit their technique. Having said that, you have my permission to forgive yourself for not prioritizing yourself when the boss is on your case or that deadline is looming. If that's the situation you are in on a daily basis right now, feel free to jump ahead to the chapter on Constructive Rest and give yourself a well-deserved mini break.
Your employer is legally bound to provide you with a workstation assessment, and may have provided you with an ergonomic chair and keyboard, or you may have bought one for home use, and still your pain persists. The problem isn’t with the chair or keyboard; they are inanimate objects, they can do nothing to you. It is what you do with them that counts. I encourage people not to buy expensive ergonomic chairs, the more expensive the chair, it seems, the more responsibility is given over to it to fix our problems. Our furniture cannot take responsibility for us, and it's not the furniture that needs educating, but ourselves. Good design and setup of your workstation does of course provide advantages, but not guarantees. You need to provide your own guarantee! As a sobering thought you may wish to consider that workstation assessments provided by your employer are done for their benefit, not yours, their real purpose is to ensure that they are protected from employee litigation!
Whether you are using a computer, playing the piano (physically similar activities!) or even driving a car, they are all secondary activities; the primary activity is the quality you are maintaining as you perform these tasks. So I encourage you to take a deep interest in yourself and by reading this book you have already shown that you consider yourself worthy of improvement. There is nothing egotistical about this, and by applying this way of thinking to improving your computer posture you can also learn to apply it in other areas of your life too.
What I want to encourage is an attitude of exploration. You won't find a list of what you should, or shouldn't be doing here. No one in the history of mankind has ever really changed their behaviour based on what they should be doing, and I most definitely include myself in that! If providing a list of things to do provided results I would have no need to write this book as these lists are everywhere on the internet and magazines, and yet pain resulting from hours of computer use is more prevalent than ever. It's because lists are so ineffective that magazines like them so much, they can keep printing them knowing that you will be back for more as your problems persist (am I be being over cynical? Maybe, maybe not!).
I will be providing useful ideas for you to experiment with, but you don't have to worry about whether or not you are doing them right, just play with them on an on-going daily basis. The harder we try to do something right, the more "effort" we put into it, and the more we exacerbate the problem we started with. Our problems are usually the result of doing too much, so take comfort that I'll be asking you to do less. Having spent a lifetime learning to do more, it may come as a surprise to find that doing less can be a tricky business to begin with, but that's OK, it's a reward worth persevering with. This is an on-going practice; you wouldn't go to the gym once and consider yourself done, so give yourself time.
I specifically used the word "improving" in the title of this book rather than "improve" to give the idea that there is always room for further improvement, none of us ever reach a state of perfection in this life, so it's an on-going process. The mind, left to itself, repeats the same stories, and where the mind goes, the body follows. In fact, the mind and body are so intertwined as to be inseparable.
The basis for this book is founded on my training as a teacher of the Alexander Technique. The Alexander Technique is a radical yet straight forward method for undoing harmful patterns of physical and mental tension that can cause a wide range of common problems. By addressing the cause of your problems it is possible to achieve long-term results, as opposed to the temporary relief that may be gained from focusing on your symptoms. I Sometimes wonder if the Alexander Technique is the worlds best kept health secret, so I hope this book will go a little way to getting it into mainstream acceptance and not just the preserve of performers and celebrities. I would thoroughly recommend getting one-to-one private lessons with a qualified Alexander Technique teacher. All I can say is that it worked for me, and so intrigued by it that I chose to be professionally trained.