Working at a PC for hours isn't much fun. But it can also be physically painful; aches and pains may be your body's way of telling you that you have a poor posture. If you don't do something about it, these aches and pains could lead to more severe problems.

Working at a PC for hours isn't much fun. But it can also be physically painful; aches and pains may be your body's way of telling you that you have a poor posture. If you don't do something about it, these aches and pains could lead to more severe problems.

Training yourself to sit correctly at your desk is a fairly simple task. Adjusting the position of your monitor in line with NHS guidelines is a good start.

Your screen should be directly in front of you rather than off to one side. It may be less convenient, but you won't get a stiff neck from sitting at an awkward angle.

The display should be positioned an arm's length from your eye, which should be level with the top of the screen. If your display height isn't adjustable, consider investing in a monitor stand.

Alter the height, back position and tilt of your chair so that your knees are level with your hips. If your chair doesn't allow for this, use a footrest. And always sit with your bottom fully on the seat to avoid slumping.

Remembering to adopt the correct posture while concentrating on the task at hand isn't easy. Ideally, you need someone - or something - to monitor your posture and give you a nudge when it needs correcting.

PostureMinder software uses a webcam to do exactly this, displaying onscreen alerts when you need to sit up straight or take a break. PostureMinder costs £30 for the full version, but a free 30-day trial is also available.

Finally, assess the tidiness of your desk and general working area. Health and safety guidelines exist not only to ensure that your desk and working area aren't detrimental to your health, but to make sure you're comfortable while you work.

Step 1. Download the PostureMinder trial. Launch the app, create a username and click Start. The software will ask a series of questions regarding your general computing habits; answer truthfully and click Next. PostureMinder will then estimate your risk of bad posture.

PostureMinder step 1

Step 2. PostureMinder offers some advice on maintaining good posture and losing any bad habits. You'll then be asked about other elements of your working environment, such as the position of your screen and keyboard. Using your answers it generates an Issues record that can be saved and printed.

PostureMinder step 2

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Working at a PC for hours isn't much fun. But it can also be physically painful; aches and pains may be your body's way of telling you that you have a poor posture. If you don't do something about it, these aches and pains could lead to more severe problems.

Step 3. Select the webcam you want to use for monitoring purposes. Press Ok to start the calibration process. Adopt a good posture but don't be tempted to sit bolt upright - PostureMinder expects you to keep that position throughout the day. Look at the screen rather than webcam, then hit ‘Capture reference image'.

PostureMinder step 3

Step 4. An oval will appear on top of your captured image. Use the handles to adjust its size and position to match your face. The top-centre handle should sit on your hairline, and the bottom-centre should rest on your chin. This will create the guide that the software uses to check your position. Click Finish.

PostureMinder step 4

Step 5. From now on, PostureMinder will run in the background, analysing your position with reference to the guide you created earlier. If it detects you slumping or sitting at an angle, an alert will appear at the bottom of the screen. PostureMinder alerts also remind you when to take a break.

PostureMinder step 5

Step 6. The PostureMinder Control Centre lets you alter any settings or recreate your reference image; access it by clicking PostureMinder's Taskbar icon and selecting ‘Open PostureMinder Control Center'. If you're seeing notifications too often, click ‘Your settings' to reduce the number of alerts you receive.

PostureMinder step 6

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Working at a PC for hours isn't much fun. But it can also be physically painful; aches and pains may be your body's way of telling you that you have a poor posture. If you don't do something about it, these aches and pains could lead to more severe problems.

Step 7. Click ‘View your statistics' to see your rating on a graph. Good periods are green, while red means you were leaning forward and orange that you were slumped back. You can adjust the timeframe to view the last hour, week, month or year. Select ‘How am I doing?' to get a full breakdown and performance rating.

PostureMinder step 7

Step 8. Now it's time to assess your work environment. Make sure that the objects you use most frequently are easily accessible, so that you don't have to repeatedly stretch or twist to reach them. If you spend a lot of time on the phone, get a headset. This will prevent you from straining the muscles in your neck.

PostureMinder step 8

Step 9. Make sure your desk is free of clutter. Use an in tray for loose bits of paper and a desk tidy for your stationery. If you often copy-type from paper documents, use a holder to position them close to and level with your monitor. Also tidy any cables out of the way. See How to clean up your PC for more de-cluttering advice.

PostureMinder step 9

Step 10. Try not to eat at your desk. Crumbs and leftover food create a unhealthy working environment, while spilled drinks can damage electronic equipment. If you must eat and type, regularly use antibacterial wipes to clean your desk and use a can of compressed gas to blast away the crumbs from your keyboard.

PostureMinder step 10

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Working at a PC for hours isn't much fun. But it can also be physically painful; aches and pains may be your body's way of telling you that you have a poor posture. If you don't do something about it, these aches and pains could lead to more severe problems.

Step 11. Your wrists should be level with your keyboard when typing; a wristrest can help you get into this habit. Keep your elbows directly under your shoulders and close to your sides. If you use a keyboard regularly but can't touch-type, learning to do so will help reduce finger strain.

PostureMinder step 11

Step 12. Your mouse should be positioned close to your keyboard and comfortable to use. For everyday working, make sure it's a full-size device. Mouse mats are available with built-in wristrests, helping to keep your wrist straight during use. Roll and flex your wrists regularly to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

PostureMinder step 12

Step 13. To prevent you squinting at the monitor, opt for a non-reflective screen and identify and eliminate the cause of any glare. Closing blinds or using table lamps rather than ceiling lights may help, as will changing your screen settings and brightness and contrast levels. Have an eye test at least once every two years.

PostureMinder step 13

Step 14. Now look at your feet, which should be flat on the floor (and not under your bottom). Invest in a footrest if needs be. Remove any clutter from underneath your desk, and ensure power sockets aren't overloaded. Finally, regularly roll your ankles to prevent your joints from stiffening up.

PostureMinder step 14

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