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ealthy Computing Tips

Healthy Computing: Decompress

© Erik Peper PhD

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Healthy Computing Tips by Erik Peper PhD. View all columns in series
Optimize your performance and prevent computer-related injuries with Healthy Computing Email Tips. Each week we provide hints to help you stay healthier while working.

For a free ergonomic assessment of your SFSU workstation by an Ergonomic Safety Program coach, please contact: Environmental Health and Occupational Safety at 338-1449.

At the end of the day do you feel a little shorter? Does your back feel a little stiff from sitting at the computer for hours on end? People generally tend to shrink throughout the years, which can contribute to back discomfort. Take a moment in the day to feel a little taller when you DECOMPRESS.


Note: this exercise involves bending while sitting. If your chair easily rolls, move to one that is more stable. Remove eyeglasses before doing this exercise.

Move your chair away from your desk or sit in a side chair where there is room to bend over while sitting. Sit slightly forward in the chair and place your feet shoulder-width apart.

Take two or three deep breaths, allowing your body to relax with each complete exhalation.

On an exhalation, gently pull your belly button toward your spine and bend over slowly while holding a little tension in your abdomen. Let your arms hang between your legs and your hands touch the floor.

Let your whole body melt for at least one breath. Feel your back gently stretch.

On an exhalation, gently begin to lift your torso vertebra by vertebra, returning to an upright position. Make sure that you continue to maintain consistently light tension in your belly as you roll up.

When you return to sitting upright imagine a string attached to the back of your head, pulling you up even taller. Let your chin stay tucked as the back of the head and neck lengthen. Imagine that the back of your head is reaching towards the ceiling. Feel the lessening of the disc compression in your back.

Relax and let go.

Do this or other large movements every 30 to 60 minutes throughout the workday.

OPTION: When you lay down for the night, before falling asleep, stretch your heels toward the foot of the bed and the back of your head-with the chin tucked in-- toward the top of the bed. Straighten out your whole body and exhale. Sense the lengthening of your body as it decompresses.

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About The Author
Erik Peper, Ph.D. is an international authority on biofeedback and self-regulation. He is Professor and Co-Director of the Institute for Holistic Healing Studies, Department of Health Education, at San Francisco State University. He is President of the Biofeedback Foundation of Europe (2005) and past President of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.......more
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