The importance of computer ergonomics

Ergonomics seems like one of those important but boring subjects we don’t really like to think about. If you have an injury associated with long hours at the computer, you may have learned a lot about ergonomics the hard way.

The usual litanies of office place injuries are almost always due to repetitive stress injuries from a combination of poor posture and poor ergonomics.

It may be carpal tunnel syndrome, neck and back sprains, or chronic stiff shoulders; in all these complex disorders there is almost always an element of poor ergonomics.

Faced with performing a task over and over again with poor ergonomics, the body adapts and adapts again. Each adaptation creates a small amount of trauma. The trauma is usually too small to be felt, but over time the accumulative total is great.

When it comes to repetitive stress injuries, what took a long time to develop doesn’t easily go away.

You can prevent painful and disruptive upper body and low back injuries by analyzing the relationship between your body and your computer. Choosing the right computer monitor and positioning it correctly for your body is vital to help create a computer workspace that works ergonomically.

If you haven’t already, it is time to upgrade to a flat screen LCD monitor. Flat screens are light, easy to move and reduce glare. Getting rid of that bulky CRT monitor creates valuable space on your desk.

Check where your eye meets the centre of your computer monitor. If you put your hand in a saluting position at eye level and move it outward toward your computer, it should hit the top of your computer monitor. With your monitor at this height, your eyes will naturally fall to about the center of your screen (about 15-30 degrees down).

Prolonged time with the head looking down or up creates a type of repetitive stress injury. This poor neck posture places stress on spinal discs, neck and upper shoulder muscles.

Your monitor should be about 20-inches or an arm’s length away from you. When you push your monitor away from you until it feels at a comfortable distance, your computer will probably be an arm’s length away.

The monitor should be placed directly in front you as is your keyboard and mouse. Placing these items a little bit off to the side may open up your desk, but it is also guaranteed to eventually create problems through out the neck and back.

After you’ve stared at your computer for 15 minutes or so, try to look away briefly at some distant object or another part of the room. Taking frequent breaks from looking at the screen is important not just for your eyes, but for the rest of your body too.

Choosing the right keyboard and mouse, and positioning these devices correctly, is vital to help create a computer workspace that works ergonomically. A wireless keyboard and wireless mouse allow you to move these tools more easily and increases desktop efficiency.

Your computer keyboard should feel comfortable for you. If your keyboard feels awkward to use, consider purchasing a replacement. Most keyboards are affordable, and replacing your work keyboard and mouse may solve many problems.

When using the keyboard your wrists should float comfortably above the keys, which are struck lightly. While typing the wrists should be level. Your hands shouldn’t be bent down at the wrists or bent up.

Wireless mice are great and allow much more flexibility of use. Make certain the mouse fits your hand and feels comfortable to use. Concentrate on the product and how it works and feels.