Ergonomics Made Easy Blog

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

Dealing with Back Pain

Thursday May 27, 2010

Everyday Back Pain

Whether it's sleeping in an awkward position, carrying a baby (in the womb and on the hip), or a sustained injury, most of us have to deal with back pain at some point.  For most, it's lower back pain, and we often erroneously assume that there's little we can besides treating it with medicine.  Actually, just adjusting your everyday habits can have an amazing impact (or lack of impact as the case may be) on your poor back. 

Consider the following options for less back pain:

  • Lift with your legs, not your back.  You've heard it before, but whenever it's possible (and your knees allow it), squat down to pick something up, instead of bending down and putting strain on your back.
  • Stretch before and after all forms of exercise and sport.
  • Take stretch breaks during long periods of sitting, including while you work.  They don't take long and will help you refocus.  Plus, to avoid eye strain, you need to rest your eyes anyway.  Two birds, one stone.
  • I know it's hard to put into practice, but avoid quick, sudden movements, especially those that would twist your back.
  • If you're a mom or care taker of a baby or toddler, here are some great carriers/slings I can personally recommend because no matter your parenting style, you need to protect your back: Ergo & Hip Hammock.  I like Ergo for kids up to a year and the Hip Hammock for "hip babies"- those that are big enough to sit on your hip but not yet walking.  I also like backpack carriers with a strong waist band- these are great for hiking and walking tours.
  • Your mom may have slapped your hands until you sat straight, but now it's time to sit "neutrally."  This means a sitting posture where no part of your body is strained, cocked, or bent awkwardly.  
  • Invest in a good ergonomic chair, or back support for your current chair at the very least.  Sitting the right way is key for your back.
  • If you use a lap top, make sure you employ good ergonomic posture on the couch, too.

The most important thing to remember is to keep your back neutrally positioned, and if you feel any pain or discomfort, try to avoid repeating what led to the soreness.

Posted in back pain , back support , eyestrain , Uncategorized | Make a Comment (1)

Going Green with a Power Strip?

Monday May 24, 2010

Easy ways to go green

I have been looking into "going green" in various, non-intimidating ways.  I'd love to say it's because we are good stewards of the earth, blah blah blah, but really it's because we live in Scotland and we give all our money to the University of Aberdeen for a PhD for my husband.  Part of being students (overseas with an unfavorable exchange rate) means looking for easy ways to save money.  Since my husband is a PhD student, we print a lot of his work for review and edits.  Instead of trashing all that paper, I save it to print less important documents (such as google maps to a new location) on the back side or I set them aside for the kids to color on.  Saving paper like that helps the economy and saves us.  Taking these baby steps have led me to look for other manageable ways to do "my bit", as they say here.  Thus, we are doing a better job of recycling and are even starting to compost.  {Yikes.} We try to turn off all unnecessary lights and appliances.  I even line dry our clothes when possible. Yes, we might as well be Mother Teresa, no?

With a power strip?

Anyway, another great option I found is the Energy Saver Green Power Strip.  It's not a fancy name and while it's not actually green {or any shade of green}, this power strip might be one of the greenest products you can add to a work station.  This power strip is designed so that its master socket controls the other sockets on the strip.  Setting up the primary and secondary sockets is easy to do (one button programming)  and will save you bundles. 

For example...

  • At home, your primary socket could be your TV, with secondary sockets being the cable/TIVO box, DVD player, and Play Station.  You obviously don't need cable or DVD player abilities if the TV isn't on.  Therefore, when the TV goes off, the other 2 can shut off automatically, too!
  • At work,your computer would be the primary socket, with printer, fax, etc as secondary sockets.  With one flip, you can turn them all off for breaks, inactivity, or at the end of the day.

This green power strip has an average savings of 16%, or $100 per work station.  That means that for $30, I'll still save $70 this year.  I could use $70 for sure.  I can only imagine the savings for a cubicle farm!  Plus, it's a win-win...we save money and we also do our part to keep harmful emissions down.

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Happy Hacking

Sunday May 23, 2010

Happy Hacking

Have you ever watched Criminal Minds and wished you had the skills of Penelope Garcia?  A good hacker is only as good as his (or her) equipment, you know.  In all seriousness, though, there are many reasons you need a good keyboard, not the least of which are speed and accuracy.  That's where the happy hacking lite 2 keyboard comes in.  Designed specifically for Linux and UNIX users, the happy hacking keyboard has gotten rid of less used keys and offers quick access to the control and escape keys. All 65 keys are withing easy reach of your wrists, thus keeping your hands and wrists in good ergonomic position. 

Additional specs:

  • Cylindrical, curved structur
  • Compatible with UNIX machines that support a PS/2 interface including Digital, HP, IBM, and SGI
  • USB Models are compatible with both PC & Mac personal computers with a USB interface
  • USB Models also offer 2 downstream ports on the back of the keyboard, making it easy to add other devices
  • 3.8-mm stroke soft-snap key switches, which turns on when the key has been depressed approximately 2 mm, while the key can be depressed up to 3.8 mm.  The required keying force to activate a key to 2 mm is less than 50 grams of force, giving it a very light touch in feel

Whether you're writing blogs, designing computer chips, or saving the world as an FBI hacker, the happy hacking lite 2 keyboard is your answer for easy, quick, and ergonomically sound typing.

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Easy Ergonomics

Friday May 21, 2010

How many hours a day do you spend on the computer?  Whether it's for work or personal reasons, from emailing to texting to Tweeting, most of us spend at least a third or a half of our awake time online.  It's a hard fact to face, but an important one in that our posture and use of computer equipment can either benefit or harm our bodies over time.  Just by being intentional about how we sit and work (or play) can help us avoid repetitive stress injuries such as , or tendinitis. 

Just as a reminder, here are some pointers for good ergonomics:

  • Never sit or work in such a way that makes you overextend or move awkwardly to reach anything.
  • Give yourself breaks to stretch and to rest your eyes.  Even blinking to return moisture to your eyes and switching tasks or points of focus will help you avoid eye strain.
  • Your keyboard should be in front of you and directly next to your mouse.  Your monitor, on the other hand, should be on a separate/raised surface so that you do not have to bend your neck to see it well.
  • When typing, it's important not to cock flex, or tighten your hands or wrists.  A wrist rest can help with this.

Easy Ergonomics

A nice option for easy ergonomics is the Freedom Package.  This free style split keyboard allows for use of both hands while maintaining a small foot print and a familiar lay-out, so as not to overwork your dominant hand.  Plus, the roller mouse is designed for use with unflexed hand and control is equidistant from both hands, thus encouraging ambidextrous use.  By relieving your dominant hand of sole responsibility for mousing, you allow less wear and tear on it.  The Freedom Package has many more features, but but the reason it's a top-seller is because it's a veritable one-stop shop for easy ergonomics at your fingertips.

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

Mouse Hand Warmer Pouch

Thursday May 20, 2010

Frigidoreceptors

Everybody responds to cold differently.  My husband can wear shorts in Scotland, but my mom wears a heavy coat in Texas in April.  Go figure.  This is probably due to the fact that we all have different sensitivity to cold- in fact, we each have frigidoreceptors, a cutaneous sense organ that is responsive to cold.  {If you knew that, you need to quit reading this blog and enroll in rocket science school.} 

Anyway, the point of this is that many people find that their hands and fingers get cold while working even when the rest of their bodies are comfortable.  The problem is that warming up the entire office can make the rest of your body too warm, if you're even allowed to touch the thermostat (!), not to mention heating offices can get quite costly.  So, you're left with frigid little fingers typing away day after day. 

Mouse Hand Warmer Pouch

So, here's another option to throw off your frigidoreceptors- a mouse hand warmer pouch.  Crazy, I know, but hear me out.  Like it sounds, it's a little pouch that you can slip your mouse and hand into  that provides infrared heat.  Besides being warm and cozy, this pouch is safe, cost-efficient, and energy-efficient.  Plus, who wouldn't enjoy being more comfortable at work?  Just remember, this is for your mousing hand- they're not winter gloves, as much as you may want them to be.  

May your fingers never be cold again!

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