Ergonomics Made Easy Blog

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

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

Taking Care of Wrist Pain By Day & By Night

Tuesday January 24, 2012

CTS

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has been around awhile, but is being reported more and more frequently as our computer usage goes up.  Not only do we type, text, and mouse all day at work, we do it on the way to work, on the way home, and at home for personal time.  Plus, possibly quite unaware of it, we strain our wrists as we sleep.  If you don't believe it, pay attention tonight as you position yourself to fall asleep.  Check out all the crazy positions you try out as you attempt to find the perfect sleep spot.  Often, we prop ourselves on our sides by our wrist(s) or just fold them funny as we tuck in.  Thus, our poor wrists never catch a break- not even at rest time!  This problem is only worsened with pregnant women, who are already swollen and have a fairly high chance of experiencing CTS during their pregnancies.  Pregnant women are known for interesting sleep positions, so they, too, stress out their wrists as they toss and turn throughout the night.

It may seem as if CTS is an inevitable part of a computer-users' life.  Fortunately, that is not true.  First, be on the look-out for the symptoms: pain, burning, tingling, or numbness in any part of your hand, wrist, or fingers.  Next, check out the following habit and posture changes you should make immediately.

  • Correct your posture.  You may not realize that there is proper and improper hand and wrist positioning.  Essentially, DON'T bend or cock your wrists.  DO everything you can to avoid cocking or bending of your wrists.  If you feel pain as you are typing, texting, or mousing, stop what you are doing and re-position yourself.

  • Try ergonomic products.  In particular, an ergonomic keyboard is designed to better your hands, while an ergonomic mouse makes mousing more natural and less straining for your wrists.  Regardless of what keyboard and mouse you're using, be sure to keep them side-by-side and on the same surface to reduce movement and therefore injury.  So, lastly, a keyboard tray will store both and at a lower spot so your arms, wrists, and hands can work more comfortably.
  • Wear a wrist splint. If you're already experiencing wrist pain, one of the trouble spots is night time.  So often, we flex our wrists and sleep with them in quite odd positions, never even aware of it.  Thus, wearing a wrist splint at night time can protect you from doing more harm.

Using an ergonomic keyboard and ergonomic mouse at work and wearing a wrist splint at night can greatly reduce wrist pain and injury so you can keep working without excessive pain.

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

Free Tips, Tools, & Resources for Boosting Your Productivity

Tuesday January 17, 2012

Productivity Boosters

Getting it all done, and on time, has become increasingly more complicated and therefore challenging.  With the advent of great new technology {I shiver when I think of the pine system of email I logged into for college just 12 years ago} comes a new era of distractions.  Besides the typical office noise we all face, we're distracted by our own gadgetry as well. While I love being productive and crossing tasks off my to-do list, I can always tell when I'm in a mood for distraction by how frequently I refresh my email, Pinterest, blog stats, or Facebook.  I don't think I'm the only one either.  Guarding ourselves from ourselves can be just as difficult as protecting our time from office time sucks, such as seemingly pointless meetings and co-worker chatter.

Thus, in case you are not totally tech-savvy like me {meaning I'm not at all}, here are some productivity boosters you may not be aware of.  I have broken them into several categories: free Firefox add-ons, a free white noise online generator, and some ergonomic products known for efficiency.

First, check out these great Firefox add-ons.

  • LeechBlock: a Firefox add-on that allows you to block sites so you can avoid their distraction.
  • Customize Google: CustomizeGoogle is a Firefox extension that enhance Google search results by adding extra information (like links to Yahoo, Ask.com, MSN etc) and removing unwanted information (like ads and spam). All features are optional and easily configured.
  • FlashGot: Download all the links, movies and audio clips of a page at the maximum speed with a single click, using the most popular, lightweight and reliable external download managers.
  • StatusBar: View and manage downloads from a tidy statusbar - without the download window getting in the way of your web browsing.
  • Flashblock: Flashblock is an extension for the Mozilla, Firefox, and Netscape browsers that takes a pessimistic approach to dealing with Macromedia Flash content on a webpage and blocks ALL Flash content from loading. It then leaves placeholders on the webpage that allow you to click to download and then view the Flash content.
  • URL fixer: URL Fixer is an extension for Mozilla Firefox that corrects typos in URLs that you enter in the address bar. For example, if you type google.con, it will correct it to google.com (asking first, if you enable confirmation).
  • Tab Mix Plus: Tab Mix Plus enhances Firefox's tab browsing capabilities. It includes such features as duplicating tabs, controlling tab focus, tab clicking options, undo closed tabs and windows, plus much more. It also includes a full-featured session manager.
  • ScrapBook: Helps you to save Web pages and organize the collection.

And, a final productivity booster for any browser:

Now, take a look at these ergonomic products that maximize on comfort and minimize movement, thus making any workspace more efficient.
  • Ergonomic Mini Keyboard: a smaller, more compact design helps minimize movements for faster typing
  • Ergonomic Mouse:  a handshake grip like this Evoluent mouse offers is much more comfortable and prevents straining; pair it with a slim-lined ergo keyboard that lets you pull it in close, and you have an efficient little typing space!

Finally, be sure to take a look at these productivity tips for mousing and a mini keyboard.

Check out these free productivity add-ons, a free white noise generator, and efficient ergonomic equipment to get a little boost at work.

Posted in ergonomic keyboards , ergonomic mouse , mini keyboard , productivity , Uncategorized , white noise | Make a Comment

The Benefits of a Left-Handed Keyboard for Any User

Thursday January 12, 2012

Hand and wrist pain is a common problem for frequent computer users.  And these days, who isn't?  Even my 5-year-old daughter comes home from kindergarten with computer sheets to help her figure out a keyboard.  I realize she will be using one soon enough, but I am sad to say "figuring out" a keyboard can be fairly challenging.  When I recently had my laptop stolen, I borrowed several different computers from generous friends.  I had a variety of keyboards, none of which were natural fits for me.  Some were tiny, others were ginormous.  Some I had to practically pound to get the keys to respond, while others were pretty touchy.  All in all, I had a very interesting time of trial and error as I got accustomed to each one before thinking through ergonomic keyboards and which ones are best.

There are many ergonomic keyboards to choose from.  Just to shake thing sup a bit, I'd like to look at the left-handed keyboard and how it can benefit any user, even righties.

Ergonomic comfort

Left handed keyboard mouse placement comparisonPart of ergonomic comfort is keeping neutral typing posture, where you keep your muscles and limbs as natural as possible and as relaxed as possible.  This is where left handed keyboards come in.  They have standard QWERTY keyboard set-up, with the number pad on the left side instead of on the right.  This allows you to pull in your mouse closer to the keyboard- see the image.  This minor change reduces the strain caused by reaching out for your mouse.  By keeping your arms closer to your body, you will lessen the strain in your arms and shoulders. A left-handed keyboard lets you move your mouse closer where your key pad would have been, making your typing more ergonomic and more comfortable, whether left- or right-handed.

Increased productivity and efficiency

A left-handed ergonomic keyboard, like all ergonomic keyboards, is designed to minimize effort while type, making every keystroke more efficient. But the left-handed design can further increase your productivity by allowing you to multi-task with your hands. For example, instead of moving back and forth between your number pad and mouse during spreadsheet data entry, you can use the number pad with your left hand and the mouse with your right hand.  Gamers also benefit from using the number pad and the mouse on your right simultaneously when game function requires concurrent actions.

In recent years, left handed keyboard have increased in popularity with right handed users because of the benefits they provide. The ability to use the mouse and the number pad at the same time can increase your productivity and efficiency on the computer. And as with all ergonomic keyboard they also provide better comfort and ergonomic protection.

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Tips for Wrist Pain & Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Thursday January 5, 2012

While Carpal Tunnel Syndrome has been a medical condition for quite some time, more and more people are reporting pain in their wrists and hands as a result of their computer-related work.  It used to be that musicians and hand-workers suffered in the sensitive carpal tunnel area, but now anyone who repeatedly uses their hands and wrists to type, mouse, or text can be a victim of CTS.  

Read below for a definition, symptoms, and some ergonomic tips to help you escape the pain and discomfort of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition named for the long, thin passageway known as the carpal tunnel.  The tunnel is about the size of your thumb and is on the palm side of your hand; it is surrounded by ligaments and bones.  The tunnel serves as a protective barrier for the median nerve that runs through the arm and into the wrist, hand, and fingers. This essential nerve sends the signal to bend and move the fingers. That's why straining this tunnel can be so painful- it is the center for all major hand, wrist, and finger movements.  When certain movements are repeated frequently or excessive pressure is put on this particular area, a host of symptoms may appear, often making the simplest of tasks difficult and even painful for many.

What Are Some Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

You'll typically notice pain in the hand, wrist, or fingers.  Some people feel burning, tingling, or even numbness in those areas, which can be not only frightening but a real liability for work. If you notice any pain, burning, tingling, or numbness, do not hesitate to contact a doctor, and at the very least spend time correcting your typing posture and habits. Check out the tips below to avoid the onset of CTS and find relief.

Tips for Relief of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

  • Correct your posture.  You may not realize that there is proper and improper hand and wrist positioning.  Essentially, DON'T bend or cock your wrists.  DO everything you can to avoid cocking or bending of your wrists.  If you feel pain as you are typing, texting, or mousing, stop what you are doing and re-position yourself.

  • Try ergonomic products.  In particular, an ergonomic keyboard is designed to better your hands, while an ergonomic mouse makes mousing more natural and less straining for your wrists.  Regardless of what keyboard and mouse you're using, be sure to keep them side-by-side and on the same surface to reduce movement and therefore injury.  So, lastly, a keyboard tray will store both and at a lower spot so your arms, wrists, and hands can work more comfortably.
  • Wear a wrist splint. If you're already experiencing wrist pain, one of the trouble spots is night time.  So often, we flex our wrists and sleep with them in quite odd positions, never even aware of it.  Thus, wearing a wrist splint at night time can protect you from doing more harm.

Using an ergonomic keyboard and ergonomic mouse at work and wearing a wrist splint at night can greatly reduce wrist pain and injury.

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