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What NOT to Use: Part 2

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What Not to Wear

Have you ever seen What Not to Wear with Stacy London and Clinton Kelly? It's a reality show in which some unsuspecting person is singled out by friends and/or family for her fashion faux pas. It may be that she is unaware of her body type and wears clothes that just don't fit. Or it may be that her wardrobe and hair style reflect her glory days in 1985. Or it may be a total lack of awareness of self and the need to dress the part for her career. Whichever problem she's having, Stacy and Clinton step in to teach her what not to wear, and more importantly, what to wear. From the top of her head to the tips of her toes, each woman is shown what works best for her specific body type, coloring, and face shape and is given a list to keep on her person when shopping. What I love about the show is that they work with what she's got- there's no pressure to lose weight or or get a face lift. Rather, they focus on her existing assets an how to best maximize them and developing better shopping habits that will last (meaning, beyond the show!).

Welcome to Ergonomics: What Not to Use

Similarly, I am here to help you make and maintain better ergonomic choices. It may be that you know better and just keep making poor ergonomic choices, or it may be total ignorance that the choices you're making at work affect you at all. Either way, it's my job to walk you through some important ergonomic principles that I hope you will take with you as you go to work today (and tomorrow).

Today's Lesson: Posture

Mom was right- it's time to sit up! Stacy and Clinton would point out how good posture affects exactly what kind of first impression you give others. However, in addition to how people perceive you, good posture affects how you feel. If you frequently come home form work achy and stiff, chances are your posture could use some improvement. Here are some essential posture points you need to know:

  1. Don't slouch. Instead of slumping in your chair, sit up straight and ensure that your lower back is well-supported by your chair. Ideally, you should have an adjustable ergonomic chair that meets you exactly where you are. A less expensive option is lumbar support, and in a really tight pinch, you can roll up a towel for back support, though it's not a long-term solution.
  2. Don't reach. Whether it's across your desk for the stapler, over your shoulder for the phone, or even over your keyboard for higher keys, never reach. Instead, you should keep all essential items within a comfortable arm's reach so that you don't strain your muscles, joints, ligaments, or tendons. As for typing, your hands should hover over the keys so that you can move your entire hand to easily reach any key you need, thus eliminating any strain on your hands, wrists, or individual fingers.
  3. Don't cock your wrists. You should maintain a neutral typing and/or mousing position with your hands and wrists. Your wrists should never be cocked- from your elbow through your wrists and down to your hands, your arm should make a straight line. An ergonomic keyboard and mouse are musts for heavy computer users.
  4. Don't mouse from a distance. Your keyboard and mouse should be good neighbors. Rather than keeping your mouse inches away or even on a separate surface from your keyboard, you should keep them right next to each other. A keyboard tray or drawer is an excellent way to ensure you maintain proper placement and height of both items.

The overarching theme that ties your posture together is neutrality. In fact, your goal is to be Switzerland. The more neutral your body is, the less cramped and pained it will feel after hours of computer and desk work.