Office Ergonomics - How to Use Your Computer Without Pain
If you have to sit all day at a computer for work, you’re not necessarily doomed to neck and back pain. Proper ergonomics, including your monitor height, chair height, and elbow position, can make a big difference in whether or not you experience pain.
- Take breaks every 15-20 minutes. This should involve getting up, and walking about the room. At the same time, you’ll get a break from using your eyes, promote circulation, and allow the spinal tissues to be exercised to avoid postural strain. Taking a 3-5 minute break does not mean you have to stop working. You can take this time to talk to a co-worker or do other work that does not involve your computer.
- Maintain upright posture at all time. Avoid slumping, or sitting with your feet up. Your chair back should be upright and have good lumbar (low back) support. If your chair does not come with this support, consider getting a lumbar pillow.
- A chair with arm rests is best. You should be able to comfortably rest your elbows at 90 degrees by your side with your wrists in a neutral, unbent position on your keyboard. Your forearms should be parallel to the floor
- Look straight ahead at your monitor screen. The ideal position is the middle of the screen slightly above eye level. This will enable you to rest your head and neck in a neutral position. Many ergonomic specialists recommend having your screen at a lower position; however this causes flexion of the head and neck and is not favorable to your overall health.
- Place your feet firmly on the floor in front of you. Your knees and hips should be at a 90 degree angle. It is best to use an adjustable chair but if this is not possible, use a foot stool or other support.
- Use a trackball or trackpad instead of a mouse. A wireless mouse can also be valuable if compatible with your system. Keep your elbow in close to your side so that you are not leaning to one side to reach your mouse. Over time, this can be most beneficial to your overall physical stress level.
- Use a headset if you are ever on the phone while using the computer. In fact, you should use a headset whenever possible. Not using a headset and scrunching the phone between your shoulder and head will quickly lead to muscle strain and pain.
- If you have bifocals or progressive lenses, and you seldom look away from your screen to focus on other things, you should consider a pair of glasses dedicated to computer use only. In many patients, the repetitive nodding required of bifocals and progressive lenses is very challenging to the muscles of the upper neck.
- Stretch at your desk 3 times a day. Click on this button for some simple desk stretching exercises. http://www.ergoindemand.com/PDFs/online_stretches.pdf Perform these movements slowly. If you experience pain, or dizziness, it is likely something is wrong. I advise you to have a complete evaluation of your spine as soon as possible.
- As much as possible, use common sense. If it hurts, don’t do it. If you are in pain on a daily basis, don’t live with the pain, seek help! Make an appointment by calling 510-922-1579 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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