Understanding and practicing correct posture is extremely important in preventing musculoskeletal injuries. Remember, you don't want to sit or stand in the same position throughout the day. Posture needs to change frequently. If you have to sit or stand for prolonged periods of time, analyze your workstation or activity and reduce the strain on your body. Also, remember to take frequent breaks and exercise.

There are three natural curves in your spine. The neck (cervical spine) curves inward, the mid back (thoracic spine) curves outward, and the low back (lumbar spine) curves inward. Your goal is to keep the three natural curves of your spine in their natural balanced alignment. Neutral spine is the position of greatest segmental balance and least amount of stress and pain to the joints, ligaments, and muscles. Standing or sitting in balance means you are working with gravity instead of against it. The muscles do not have to work hard to maintain balance; therefore the body feels less fatigued and can work more efficiently. When you slouch, you cause unnecessary strain, which can lead to backache, stiffness, and muscle fatigue.

Stand - without slouching

Standing Posture

  • Feet should be shoulder width apart. Your weight should be evenly distributed over your heel and ball of your foot.
  • Hold your knees slightly relaxed, not locked.
  • Shoulders straight, not rounded.
  • Align your ears, shoulders and hips in straight line.

Sit - without slouching

Sitting Posture

  • Scoot back in your chair so that your lower back is supported.
  • Use a foot rest if your feet do not comfortably touch the floor.
  • Sit upright, align the ears with the shoulders.
  • Drop your chin so it sits parallel to the floor when relaxed.

Neutral wrist/hand position

The neutral wrist position places all the structures in the hand and wrist area in good alignment. In this position, there is less strain on your muscles, joints, ligaments, and nerves. The circulation to your hand is also improved. It is important to keep your wrist in the neutral position when typing and doing other tasks such as using the mouse, writing, pinching and grasping.

To find neutral wrist/ hand position, place your hand palm and fingertips down on a table. Imagine and keep a straight line going from you elbow through your forearm and wrist to your middle knuckle.

Typing, mouse, and writing techniques

Typing techniques (floating hands technique):

  • Keep the wrists in neutral position with the forearms parallel to the floor or slightly lower.
  • Do not rest your wrists on the wrist pad while you type. When taking a break, rest your distal palm on the pad, but not over the carpal tunnel.
  • Use the entire arm from the shoulders to move you hands across the keyboard to avoid stretching fingers to reach far away keys. (This means you need to be able to leave home row).
  • Keep fingers curved to strike the keys with your fingertips.
  • Keep your fingernails short.
  • Relax the thumb and avoid stretching it in awkward positions.

Mouse/trackball techniques:

  • Position the mouse close to the keyboard, so the arm is relaxed at your side.
  • Hold the mouse loosely with all fingers and keep the wrist in neutral position.
  • Avoid resting your wrist or forearm on table or desk.
  • Use the whole arm from the shoulder to move the mouse or trackball.
  • Use a light touch.
  • Relax the thumb and avoid stretching it in awkward positions.

Writing techniques:

  • Keep your wrist in neutral position.
  • Avoid movements at the wrist such as forward, backwards, or side to side.
  • Keep forearm supported but avoid sharp desk edges.
  • Relax the pinch - use pen expanders or wider pens.
  • Carefully choose your pen - ink pens are easier to write with than ball point pens.
  • Use a light touch.
  • Relax the thumb and avoid stretching it in awkward positions.
Claudia Carhart, MS, PT, 
Karen Beernink, MSPT, 
Cynthia Tse Woolfenden, BScPT, MCPA, 
in association with the MediResource Clinical Team