Regular use of computer can lead to several health problems. These days most of us are required to sit in front of the computer for long periods due to the computer-related jobs. Maintain certain postures for a long time, causes repetitive stress injuries (RSI) over a period. Many techniques and postures cut the harmful forces acting on the body, and considerably minimize the risk of injury.
We can considerably reduce the injuries and pains by paying attention to some of the factors discussed below.
Keep a Good working posture:
US Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends some important methods to support neutral body postures while working at the computer workstation. I read about them and found them very useful. Here are some tips for regular computer users.
Keep the hands, wrists and forearms straight, in-line, and almost parallel to the floor.
Keep the head bent slightly forward or at the same level and well balanced. It should be in-line with your torso.
Keep the shoulders relaxed. Let the upper arms hang normally at the side of the body.
The elbows should be close to the body and bent between 90 and 120 degrees.
One should keep the feet fully supported by floor or footrest.
The back should be straight and fully supported with proper lumbar support when sitting vertical or leaning back slightly.
A well-padded seat to support the thighs and hips is a necessity. Keep it generally parallel to the floor.
Keep the knees about the same height as the hips with the feet slightly forward.
Stretch Stretch all the Way:
While working on a computer one should stretch after every one hour. One should avoid sitting in one particular posture for more than an hour. Stretching exercises can help in a long way. For example, lean forward with your arms crossed in front of you. Hold your knees and push your knees apart. Keep your hands on them. This will stretch the shoulder blades. Also, stretch your fingers, arms, hands, and torso at regular intervals.
One should make sure to exercise and move the hands, legs, back, and neck for at least 10 minutes throughout the day. Periodic short walks from your workstation helps the blood to circulate properly and reduces the risk of cramps.
Monitor Pointer/Mouse and Keyboard Placement:
Placing the keyboards, pointing devices or working surfaces too high or too low may result in awkward wrist, arm, and shoulder postures.
Adjust the keyboard to maintain straight or neutral wrist postures. Left-hand users can use an alternative left hand keyboard, with the keypad permanently affixed to the left side Place the devices such as keyboard and mouse phone within the primary work zone area.
Place the computer monitor at the recommended viewing distance and angle (the range of 20-40 inches (50-100 cm). Adjust it to the right clarity settings to avoid eyestrain.
Keep the chair height and desk height to a comfortable level to maintain a neutral body posture. Sit at a safe distance from where you can clearly view the monitor and read the text without slipping to awkward postures.
Keep the monitor directly in front of you. Your head, neck, and torso should face the screen.
Look at far-away objects like wall clock etc. to give periodic rest to your eyes. Viewing the monitor for a long period causes fatigue and dryness so blink at regular intervals to give the eyes of necessary moisture. Some other non-computer tasks such as filing, phone work, etc. can give your eyes the needed break from the strain.
Choosing the Chair:
Use mobile and size-adjustable chairs if you are a regular computer users. If the desks are not at the right height, they may force you to take awkward postures such as extending your arms to reach the keyboard, which will strain the arm muscles. There should be adequate clearance space for the thighs, legs, so that one can often change working postures
The chair should give adequate support to the back, legs, hips, and arms. It should have a back rest to provide necessary lumbar support, comfortable seat, and soft armrests for a relaxed working position.
Relaxing arms and wrists
To keep your wrist and forearm relaxed during work and to avoid pain, try one of these methods:
If the keyboard tray/surface is not big to accommodate both the keyboard then position the mouse tray above the keyboard. One can also keep it next to the key board tray. A fingertip joystick attached to the keyboard also helps. Pointing devices attached to the keyboard such as a touch pad are also a good idea. The size of the point devices such as mouse should be right so that they fit the hand. Mouse pad with a wrist rest helps in keeping the wrist relaxed.
Keep these pointers in mind and make the necessary changes to avoid lower back, neck, eyes and wrist strain due to long hours of computer working.