Between staring at monitors and hunching over cell phones, most modern office workers end up with some poor posture. The characteristic desk-jockey pose — shoulders hunched forward, neck jutting out like a turtle — causes muscle and joint pain, has been linked to migraines and bad digestion, and isn’t going away. “Posture is a worsening problem,” says Jan Lefkowitz, a chiropractor at New York’s Body in Balance Chiropractic. “I have noticed that younger people are getting much more back pain and neck pain than they used to, and I feel it’s from the fact that screen time starts at a much earlier age than it did for older generations.”
Assuming you can’t change the hours you spend at your desk every day, we decided to look into other methods for feeling better. Small breaks are an obvious start, but combining them with desk accessories, pillows, and exercise equipment designed to improve your posture while you’re stuck sitting can have a huge effect on aches and pains. Below, three experts share their recommendations for posture-saving products for home and the office.
“Sitting for prolonged periods of time in front of a computer can cause significant upper-back and neck pain,” says chiropractor David Perna of Back & Body Medical. Fortunately, there are ways to make your desk setup more ergonomic. Perna says, “A standing position often puts less stress on the lower back and helps a person achieve a more upright position.” For adding more standing time to your day, Lefkowitz likes the Varidesk that easily switches between sitting and standing heights.
Both chiropractors recommend using monitor risers while you’re sitting down. “When I talk to people about proper ergonomics, the first thing I ask them is what is the height of their computer screen,” says Perna. “Typically, I want to hear the top of the screen is two inches above their eye level.” Most office workers’ screens are too low, which leads to neck strain. An adjustable riser lets you find that just-right height.
If your job requires you to look up and down between your screen and papers on your desk, Lefkowitz recommends a monitor document clip “to reduce head and eye movements when working on your computer.” Keeping everything at eye level cuts down on posture-disrupting motions.
“Lumbar support cushions are also very important,” says Lefkowitz. “Maintaining the natural inward curve of your lower back — the lumbar region — will naturally improve the position of your neck.” Writer Maureen O’Connor told Strat that she loves how this lumbar support gives her “a gentle nudge to sit up straight and can be strapped onto the chair of your choice.” And in a pinch, yoga instructor Rachel Potasznik, founder of BetterBodyLab and a certified practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method of movement awareness and injury-prevention, says a pillow or towel can give your back the support you need.