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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Straighten Up!


Have you considered ergonomics in your office or home work space?  I noticed that to have my feet on the ground, my chair needs to be pretty high (I have long legs for my height). As a result, I had to look down at the monitor, rounding my shoulders and putting greatly stressing my neck and spine. It creates a serious risk of pinched nerves and a permanent hunched look as I grow older. So I purchased computer monitor stand to raise my monitor slightly and improve my view. This was a pretty inexpensive change that makes a significant impact on my health. It also benefits my relationship with my chiropractor as it improves my tight muscles in my neck and shoulders! ☺ More than 80 percent of neck and back problems are the result of tight, aching muscles brought on by years of bad posture, the Massachusetts Chiropractor Association reports.

It doesn't cost an arm and a leg for a decent chair.  If you aren't using a proper chair, head over to Staples and try out some of the options or do some do-it-yourself adjustments to improve the ergonomics of your seating.   A decent cushion is really important, especially if you are sitting for a long time. Arm rests are helpful to reduce strain when you are not typing. Keep them low enough so they don't put stress on your shoulders. Decent lumbar support should be considered, allowing a slight curve to support your lower back.

Your keyboard and mouse need to be a reasonable distance in front of you on your desk or slide out tray. If the keyboard is too close, your arms will be awkward and cause strain. If too far, you will lean forward causing strain on the shoulders and spine. The keyboard should within a distance that allows your elbows to stay close to your body with your forearms approximately parallel with the floor. Also look at the wrist angle when your fingers are on the keyboard. The wrist is at risk for issues with repetitive motion (carpal tunnel syndrome) and awkward angles. You may wish to invest in a wrist rest for your keyboard and mouse to keep your wrist in a neutral position.

Give your eyes a break! It is high recommended that to reduce eye strain you should follow the advise of the Mayo Clinic to use the simple 20-20-20 rule.
A good rule of thumb is to follow the 20/20/20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take your eyes off your computer and look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
There are some great free utilities for those that spend a lot of time in front of the computer. Check out WorkRave (Windows and Linux) and EyeDefender (Windows). Mac users, you may want to check out Time Out.  You should also stretch regularly.. and you can download Stretchware to remind you to pause for a short break and do slow stretching exercises while sitting in their chairs. Doctors therefore suggest that breaks should be taken every 30-45 minutes for at least 5 minutes. This is to help prevent repetitive stress injuries, keep you healthier and less likely to have long term issues related to poor posture and repetitive motions.


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