Ergonomics Made Easy Blog

Resources and solutions for people in pain that could use help with ergonomic products. Ping blog

3 Tips for Wrist Pain

Tuesday September 30, 2014

Wrist Pain & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be quite debilitating, especially since you get it from excessive/repeated use of your hands, wrists, and fingers.  It's somewhat of a cyclical problem because if you didn't need to use your hands so much, you wouldn't have gotten it in the first place!  Typing, texting, and mousing are an integral part of most of our work days.  So, getting rid of the pain turn out to be a real pain since you have to keep working.  What can you do?

There are some basic posture and habit changes, as well as some ergo products, you can implement.  They will take time to fully integrate into your daily life, but it's important to try to make an effort as CTS will only get worse otherwise.

Tips to Avoid & Relieve Wrist Pain

Find the best-shaped mouse for your hand.

You can significantly reduce wrist extension and tendon damage just by using a mouse that actually fits the shape of your hand. Try out several different ergonomic mice to find the best size and shape for you. It should feel comfortable and encourage good wrist.

Optimize your mouse placement.

When using a mouse, your body should be in a neutral position with arms relaxed at your side and your mousing hand slightly higher than your elbow height. This typically places the mouse one or two inches above the number pad on a properly-centered, standard keyboard. Using a platform with a separate mouse platform is the easiest way to achieve this ideal position. But if you are using a flat platform for both your keyboard and your mouse, pull the mouse against the side of your keyboard, as closely at it will fit. The key is to eliminate the need to stretch or reach for your mouse.

Hold your mouse gently.

Always use a light touch with your mouse. Loosely curve your hand over your mouse, without allowing it to support the weight of your arm. Holding it too tightly flexes your muscles and can cause strain and injury.

Protect your wrists from contact pressure.

Your wrists should never be in direct contact with any surface, including wrist rests. This contact pressure on the wrists can quickly cause significant damage to your tendons. Instead, use the base of your palms to support the weight of your hands and arms in between mousing and typing. This will keep pressure off the sensitive carpal tunnel area in the wrist.

The main idea is to avoid any movement or positioning of the hand and wrist that is awkward, cocked, or causes any discomfort.  Taking this seriously can help you avoid CTS in the first place, as well as relieve current symptoms.

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4 Tips for Increased Productivity

Thursday September 25, 2014

4 Tips for Getting More Done, More Comfortably

Business Insider recently ran an article on productivity tools.  From carrying a moleskin for incredibly creative insights to hiring an older assistant, these tips are fabulously unattainable for most.  They assume a certain managerial, possibly even budget-free quality of life.  Most of us don't have assistants, much less the ability to buy every book we have a hankering for.  That said, I am definitely on the same page as the quoted Ryan Holiday:

"Like all people, I like to think I am a productive person," Ryan says. "If I am, though, it's because I've been ruthlessly efficient at one thing: stealing secrets and methods from people a lot smarter than me."

I'm not claiming to be smarter than anyone, but I have balanced being a mom, a student, a teacher, and a professional- all at the same time!  So here are four tips straight from the trenches.  They are my daily go-to's for better, more productive days. 

Here are some seemingly random, yet beneficial tips that can help increase your productivity and concentration even in the midst of a noisy environment.

Prioritize your day. Instead of checking emails at 9am, start your day with more important tasks or items on your to-do list.  Usually, even if you're not a morning person, you're starting off fresh and hopefully before you've hit any snags.  Only check your voice mail or e-mail once or twice a day, and keep your own messages short and direct. Don’t let low priority tasks interrupt you constantly throughout the day.

Use white noise. “White” noise fills in the sound spectrum so that you're not focused on any one specific sound.  Office-wide sound masking can lower distractions by up to 51 percent by covering the excess conversations and noise in an open floor plan. You can also try a personal sound machine, if you don’t have control over the sound quality in the office.

Limit distractions and interruptions.  Try establishing a “no-interruption” time of about an hour to focus on important tasks (see first tip). Start by turning off all your own distractions, like your phone and e-mail. Spend this time in focused concentration. Turn on a white noise machine to cover office noise(see second tip). You can even post a sign indicating that you currently cannot be interrupted, and a time when you will be available again. You can repeat this focused time throughout the day to make the most of your time.

Improve your posture.  Promoting good ergonomic practices isn't just a sales tactic. Working in an ergonomically balanced work space makes all the difference in the quality of your time work achieved.  Start with chair, and if you can, adjust your chair to properly fit you, from the height of the seat so that your feet are flat on the floor to the backrest on your chair to fit the curve of your spine. You could also add portable lumbar support if your chair does not fully support your lower back (even a rolled up towel can do the trick!). Then, move your arm rests low enough or out of the way while typing to allow free arm movement.  Finally, be sure your hands are in a neutral typing position.  That means no weird positioning (even while mousing!) or cocked wrists.

They might not all work for you, but some of them just might help you keep going without losing your train of thought or overall health.

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3 Ergonomic Tips for Laptop Users

Thursday September 11, 2014

Tips for Laptops

Laptops are all the rage, which is no surprise.  "I'd love a computer tied to my desktop," said no one ever.  We all want the fancy bells and whistles that seem to make our lives easier, more efficient and effective.  And that's what laptops do- we take 'em everywhere with us and work from anywhere.  I mention all this to say that while we have left our PC's in the past, we still need to remember the same ergonomic principles, or at the least tailor our habits to better ergonomic practices.
  • Try an ergonomic keyboard.  Laptop keyboards can be small and definitely not as comfortable as a full-sized keyboard.  Keys can be omitted or put in weird spaces just to make the fit.  A common problem is hand cramping and quite honestly irritation during use.  Thus, bad habits form quickly.  The hands tense up and poor wrist positioning can lead to aches and pains, as well as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. An ergonomic keyboard is larger and encourages good hand positioning, which reduces chances of stress injuries.
  • Raise your laptop to avoid eye strain.  Since laptop screens are often smaller than desktop monitors, it's important to at least elevate them so that you're not squinting to see the screen.  You can use a monitor lift to get your screen to eye level with a PC, but that's not terribly practical for laptop use.  An option here is to set the laptop on a raised surface and possibly incorporate the above mentioned ergo keyboard.  Also, be sure to take breaks and to blink often to keep your eyes hydrated.
  • Try an ergonomic mouse.  Nothing is more maddening than getting used to a new mouse, especially one that is built into the keypad.  What's more, hand cramping comes back to plague you.  An ergonomic mouse is the size and shape you're used to, can be added for temporary use at any time, and helps you use your hands and wrists in positions that won't injure you.  

It's essential to take steps to avoid eye strain and repetitive stress injuries while computing from the comfort of your own lap.

Posted in carpal tunnel syndrome , ergonomic keyboards , ergonomic mouse , eyestrain , hand pain , repetitive strain injury (RSI) , Uncategorized | Make a Comment

3 Ergonomic Tips Every Parent Should Know

Thursday September 4, 2014

Usually we provide ergonomic tips or resources for desk workers on how to protect themselves from common work-related strain and injuries.  Today is dedicated to parents.  While not all parents work out of the home, many of us do work from home, and we all know that we work all day.  (Can I get an amen?)  All that to say parents are hard workers and need to take care of themselves while on the job, too.  

3 Ergonomic Tips

  • Protect Your Shoulders.  How many times do you reach around from the front seat to retrieve and hand back a dropped sippy cup or toy?  This may be great fun for your toddler, but it's no good for your rotator cuff.  Unless you're looking for surgery in the not too distant future, stop doing this immediately.  Your kids will only take a few days to learn that they can easily pick up their own dropped items when they get out of the car.  Or, if you have a rock star older kid like I do, make her the picker upper at stops.
  • Protect Your Back.  There is not one move every parent does that puts out our backs.  It's all the little twists and turns we do every day that add up: bending over for toys, babies on hips, growing children climbing on for piggy back rides, etc.  All those moves take a toll on our backs, so do your best to minimize twisting or jarring.  As they say, lift with the legs, not the back.
  • Protect Your Eyes.  Whether you're working from home like I do, checking emails, or just teaching your kids how to use the computer, even screen time for Mom adds up.  Be sure to take care of your eyes by taking breaks from staring at the screen, blinking your eyes frequently, and keeping your screen lifted to eye level.  This higher position is better for your eyes and neck.

Being a mom or dad is very physical.  When we have children, we're all in, and that includes our bodies.  Three main things to protect: shoulders, back, and eyes.  It's simple, but so, so important.  After all, staying healthy is part of making parenting fun.

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3 Ergonomic Tips

Wednesday August 27, 2014

Ergonomic Hacks for Bankers

Banks are every day necessities.  We need them, and they need us.  But not all banks are equal.    Some serve their employees and customers better than others.  Here are three things that will help any bank have happier, healthier, and more protected transactions.

  1. Monitor shields.  Monitor shields keep the sun from rendering the screen useless.  This is great for counter-acting windows and glaring overhead lights.  Additionally, monitor shields protect the user from nosy neighbors.  Whether people mean to or not, we simply can't help ourselves from straining to see other people's business.  A shield allows the user (the person sitting right in front of the screen) to see what's there, but not from other angles.  Thus, the user and his/her information is protected.  Plus, when necessary, the screen is easily and quickly removable.  
  2. Monitor lifts.  Not as .007 essential, these devices lift the monitor for better viewing for short, average, and tall employees.  Screens are sort of a one-size-fits-all purchase, but lifts allow for adjustment for fewer neck aches and pains.  What's more, keeping the screen raised keeps your eyes healthier.  Eye strain is a common problem for computer workers, and it only worsens when looking down at a screen for too long.
  3. Sound masking.  An individual sound machine allows a single banker to ignore business around him and focus on the task or conversation at hand.  A sound masking system is farther-reaching and achieves speech privacy for all involved.  Both employees and customers are protected from being overheard.  Be it for the bank itself, or the customer, speech privacy cannot be over-rated.  That's why every aspect of leaks needs to be considered- not just the digital ones.

Taking care of employees and customers is important.  Everyone needs to walk away happy their experience.

Posted in comfort , ergonomics , sound masking , Uncategorized | Make a Comment