You’d think, having spent the better part of 30 years teaching people about posture, that my own would have paragon status. It’s pretty good, I’ll admit, but that doesn’t stop me from being unconscious about my body use in certain situations. Like sitting at my computer and getting lost in a project. When I do computer work, I try to practice the suggestions I made in Chapter 8 of The New Rules of Posture.
The eyes are not designed for constant, held focus. Like the body as a whole, the eyes work best when they are moving. Their muscles prefer a variety of angles and directions and a mix of close and far focus. So I’m disciplined about periodically looking away from the computer and out into the distance. I make an effort to avoid focusing too tightly on the screen by lightly sustaining spatial awareness of the room in which I’m sitting. This engages muscles of peripheral vision and helps to rest the eyes.
But despite following my “new rules”, last year I suffered a long bout of neck pain. My neck muscles felt like thick cords, so tight that it hurt to fully rotate my neck. After a few months, I was having trouble turning to look behind me when changing lanes in traffic. Confident that my “computer posture” was flawless, I assumed that there must be something amiss in the subtle alignment of my spine. So I signed on for several Rolfing© Structural Integration sessions. The relief was significant. But as soon as I spent an afternoon answering emails, the pain came right back. I can be stubborn. I had four Rolfing sessions and a chiropractic visit before finally making an appointment with my optometrist.
Solution: a pair of glasses corrected specifically for computer distance. It turns out, that despite my intention to use my eyes well, my old glasses weren’t adequately correcting my vision. So for every minute that I spent relaxing I was probably spending five more minutes peering and straining.
The neck pain vanished as soon as I had that prescription filled.