Alexander Technique for the Computer User: An Overview
In my eight-part series of posts for computer users, I considered, from my perspective as an Alexander Technique teacher, how we can best use our bodies as we work. I thought it would be useful to put it all together in this simplified checklist (you can read the posts for all the details!):
1. Awareness – remember to check in with yourself frequently. Don’t wait until you’re hurting! Take time to be aware of yourself, and the space around you!
2. Balance! – get to know your sit bones, and use them as you sit at your computer!
3. Don’t Lose Your Head! – don’t let your head “get away from you” – allow it to balance lightly at the top of your spine as you work!
4.Legs and Feet! – let your feet rest lightly and easily on the ground beneath you.
5. “Mouse Hand!” – notice your hand on your mouse. Check in that you’re not holding it more tightly than needed, or clicking with more force than necessary. Remove your hand from the mouse when you can and let it rest easy for a while.
6. Breathe! – be aware of your breath as you work. Start noticing when you hold your breath, so you can let it go!
7. Our Work Station – set up your chair and work station to best support you:
- Raise the height of your desk chair so that your hips are higher than your knees.
- Have the top of your screen more or less level with your eyes.
- Make sure your keyboard and mouse are not so far away you have to stretch, but not so close you curl yourself inwards – just a nice comfortable reach
- Place your keyboard and screen directly in front of you so you don’t need to twist to use them.
8. Using a Laptop – some special considerations:
- Raise the height of your laptop when possible so you are not as likely to scrunch up.
- Tilt the screen so you can see it easily without hunching down toward it.
- Take advantage of its portability and use it in a variety of places – at a desk, standing, on the couch and more…
Bonus Tip: Give Yourself Breaks!
Move often, giving yourself frequent breaks away from the computer when possible. It can be particularly helpful to include the Alexander Technique practice of Constructive Rest as part of your day. It’s a great way to unwind and restore your body after working on the computer for a while. One of my students, who worked from home at the computer, would take frequent very short Constructive Rest breaks. They really helped her comfort and her productivity.
I hope you’ve found this series helpful. And if you have other technology you work with that you find challenging for your body (phone, iPad, etc.) let me know – I’m looking for inspiration for future posts!
Thank you so much for this concise summary, full of great ideas that I will USE!
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May I add something that is comparable to this relaxation technique.
It is something that goes by the name of the Pomodoro Technique when managing time spent working at a desk with or without a computer.
That is to work in short bursts either 25 or 50 minutes. Taking a 5 or 10 minute break after each one. Then after 3 or 4 hours take a much longer break.
In these break times do nothing like checking Facebook or any other social tool. By all means relax by lying down as stated here. Do things like load/unload the washing machine etc. trivial tasks that need little or no thought.
I also use this method to alternate with standing and sitting at my desk. I have a sit/stand desk where I can change the height of the work surface.
If anyone is wondering way it is called the Pomodoro technique, the pioneer of this method used a kitchen timer for the 25/50 durations. The timer resembled a Pomodoro tomato apparently.
There are apps available for both MS Windows and Apple Mac that can prompt you to take breaks.
Thanks so much for the information. I have heard of the Pomodoro technique, but wasn’t exactly sure what it was. This sounds like a perfect complement to my other recommendations. I think getting up away from the screen and moving around intermittently makes a lot of sense. Really appreciate the information. And the apps sounds like a great tool, too. I will check them out.
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