By: Christa Mazzuca, MScPT
Do you spend a lot of time on the computer? With our highly computerized world, many people are feeling aches and pain from spending long periods of time using a computer at work, school or home. With an optimal posture and good habits, it will be easier to work on the computer and repetitive strain injuries can be prevented. Below are a few tips to reduce strain on your body while on the computer:
* Posture – Avoid slouching or awkward postures, which will put increased strain and tension on the joints, muscles and nerves of your spine and limbs. Sit up tall with your back against the back of the chair and have your feet flat on the ground (or on a stool) so your muscles aren’t doing all the work to keep you upright. You can also use lumbar support for the extra cue to sit up tall. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your arms close to your body or on the arm rest of your chair to prevent increases strain on your shoulders. Avoid leaning and resting your wrists or forearms on the edge of your desk, which can compress the nerves in your limbs. No one has perfect posture all day, but if you can correct yourself and be in a good posture for most of the day your body will be thankful.
* Set-up – Position your monitor so that your eyes are about 1” below the top of your monitor; if your screen is too low you will slouch to bring your eyes to this position. Don’t squint to see the screen (eliminating glare, increasing font size or wearing corrective glasses if needed). Keep your keyboard and mouse close by with your elbows at 90° and your wrists in neutral - your mouse should be in line with and as close to your keyboard as possible. Your work, monitor, mouse and key board should be directly in front of you so you are not reaching too far and so to avoid twisting your neck or body too much.
* Accessories – Use a mouse and key board that requires minimal pressure to click and type. Wrist pads on your keyboard or mouse can be used to gently place the wrist on to help keep them straight. Document holders or headsets can be used to encourage neutral neck postures.
* Technique – Type slowly and softly on the keyboard with your forearms parallel to the ground and your wrists in neutral. When using a mouse don’t grip too tightly and use you elbow to move it around instead of your wrist. These techniques will prevent over working your forearm muscles and irritating the nerves of your upper limbs.
* Habits – Take regular micro breaks to get up to stretch and walk around every hour to help promote blood flow to fatigued muscles. Try to vary your work tasks so you are not doing the same type of movement for extended periods.
If you are experiencing the early warning signs of repetitive strain injury – such as weakness of your grip, numbness and discomfort or pain in the arms, hands, wrist or shoulders – early diagnosis and treatment is important to ensure recovery. But remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Posts inspired by the team at Platinum Health & Wellness.