Ergonomics Made Easy Blog

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

Quick Tips to Protect Your Wrists

Friday July 29, 2011

Most computer users spend their days reaching back and forth between their keyboard and mouse, creating muscle strain in the wrist and arms. Even worse, this movement is combined with poor posture, quickly leading to constant pain and possible injury. Check out these quick tips for healthier, pain-free mousing.

Upgrade your mouse. Find the right size and shape for your hand to significantly reduce wrist extension and tendon damage. The best ergonomic mouse for you is one that promotes good wrist position. Try several different styles to choose one that is comfortable and supports your natural movements.

Optimize your mouse placement. The key in mouse placement is to eliminate the need to stretch or reach for your mouse. Using a keyboard tray with a separate mouse platform is the easiest way to achieve a neutral position, with arms relaxed at your side and your mousing hand only slightly higher than your elbow height. If you are sharing a platform for both your keyboard and mouse, pull the mouse closely against the side of your keyboard to minimize any reaching.

Move your mouse from the elbow. Never move your wrist when using your mouse. To protect yourself from injury and pain, it is important that your wrist remain straight, in line with your arm, with no movement at the wrist itself. Any bending of the wrist, either to the side or up and down, can lead to tendon damage. All mouse movement should come from the motion of the entire lower arm, pivoting only at the elbow. Look carefully at any arm rests or hand pads you may have to ensure they do not restrict free movement of the arm.

Protect your wrists from contact pressure. Your wrists should never be in direct contact with any surface, including wrist rests and mouse pads. Any contact pressure on the wrists can agitate the sensitive carpal tunnel area. Instead, use the base of your palms to support the weight of your hands and arms in between mousing and typing.

Even if you are not experiencing any pain, we all need a few reminders in wrist health. Find a well-fitting ergonomic mouse that helps you keep your hand and wrist relaxed in a good position. Using a keyboard tray can also help place this mouse in the best position for easy, pain free use. A few changes to your mousing habits can protect you from pain and injury.

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Why You Shouldn't Sit Too Much

Thursday July 28, 2011

The Dangers of Sitting

There has been recent discussion about the dangers of sitting too much.  While most people would probably agree, if push came to shove, that sitting is maybe not the best thing to do all day, they would probably also say that sitting is offset by exercise.  Interestingly, a recent study found that sitting more than 6+ hours a day increases risk of death up to 40%...even if you exercise!  It also found that obese people tend to sit between 2 and 3 hours more than thinner folks and that chewing a piece of gum burns more calories than sitting.  Finally, this study concluded that people who sit for work have twice the rate of cardiovascular disease than those who stand for work.

As if that's not enough, an Australian study recently found that a sedentary lifestyle {one characterized by sitting and expending very little energy} contributes to chronic conditions such as heart disease and can increase the risk of colon cancer.  They found this by observing various colon cancer patients and their work environments.  The final results are as follows:

Subjects who spent 10 or more years in sedentary jobs had twice the risk of colon cancer and a 44% increased risk of rectal cancer, compared with those who never held a sedentary job. The association was independent of recreational physical activity. Occupations requiring heavy physical activity were associated with a 44% reduced risk of colon cancer compared with light-activity work.

How Can We Reduce Our Sitting Time?

Rather than assume that there's not much we can do other than chew a whole lot more gum or get a new job, a more helpful approach might be to look at ways to eliminate excessive sitting.  When at home, limit how much time you spend sitting looking at your computer or TV.  While work may seem hopeless, there are actually more options than you think.  Incorporate hourly walking and stretch breaks, especially if you can coordinate them with phone calls or other tasks not tied to your desk.  A great option is an adjustable height desk, which literally raises and lowers the work surface so you can sit or stand to work!  You might recall that sitters had twice the rate of cardiovascular disease than standers.  Throw in back aches, health concerns, fear of colon cancer, as well as collaborative work form time to time, and there's no reason not to consider such a versatile desk.

Sitting too much can lead to serious health issues.  Adjustable height desks allow workers to split their time between sitting and standing.

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How an Ergonomic Chair Can Relieve Back Pain

Wednesday July 27, 2011

Do you experience pain in your back after a day at work? Do you spend more than three or four hours a day sitting in a chair? Take a few moments to evaluate your sitting habits. Better habits and good equipment can help reduce back pain and keep you pain-free longer.

Evaluate your posture. If you work in front of a computer, the goal is to sit in a neutral typing position. This position requires the least amount of work for your muscles, thus reducing strain and stress in your back.

  • Start by reclining your backrest slightly, allowing your body to relax more while sitting.
  • Make sure your feet are resting firmly on the floor, fully supporting your legs and back. Never pull your feet under your chair or cross your legs.
  • Relax your arms a few inches above your lap, with your forearms parallel to your thighs; try using an easy-to-install, adjustable keyboard tray to quickly adjust your keyboard into an optimum position.
  • Make sure you have enough lumbar support; to boost lower back support you can always use a rolled towel or portable lumbar support.

Upgrade to an ergonomic chair.  Ergonomic chairs are specifically designed to help you maintain good posture and comfort all day long. Here are a few guidelines to choosing the right ergonomic chair for you.

  • Your chair seat should be wide enough for a comfortable fit and should not be too deep to catch behind your knees. You also not feel any pressure points, even after sitting for a few hours.
  • Try to find a chair that easily adjusts height while you are seated, to provide for fast and accurate positioning.
  • When you sit in a chair, the back rest should curve to fit your spine. Some back rests can be adjusted to provide a better fit. More importantly, there should be good lower back support.

Many people have found relief from back pain by using a good, ergonomic chair that has been perfectly adjusted to fit their needs. An adjustable keyboard tray can also help you maintain good posture throughout the work day, eliminating muscle stress and strain. These small changes can help you feel better fast.

 

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Tips for Relieving Neck & Shoulder Pain

Tuesday July 26, 2011

Shoulder & Neck Pain at Work

Neck and shoulder pain may seem like it's just a part of your life.  You may feel powerless to do anything about it.  You may not even realize why you have it or where it's coming from.  For many, neck and shoulder pain a direct result of working at a desk.  Before you get mad at your job, though, take a few minutes to read the following tips and see if there's anything you can improve upon for your own sake.

Tips for Relieving Neck & Shoulder Pain

  • Sit (or stand) up (mostly) straight:  The biggest culprit in neck and shoulder pain is poor posture, which includes slouching, raising your shoulders, or simply twisting your body into awkward positions.  Each example places undue strain on your muscles and joints. The first step in maintaining good posture is to adjust your chair to fit your body. You should be able to rest your feet firmly on the floor and the armrests should be low enough to allow free arm movement from the elbow. Next, lower the back rest to fit the curve of your back so that your lower back is properly supported. Additional lumbar support can be added easily if you need more support or your chair doesn't provide good support.  Finally, many workers are starting to see the advantages of an adjustable height ergonomic desk that they can adjust to meet their changing needs as they sit or stand to work.
  • Take a Break to Stretch: Be purposeful in taking a break once an hour to walk around and stretch out your muscles.  This will allow you to stretch your shoulders, neck, and back regularly throughout your day.
  • Move Your Keyboard: When your keyboard and mouse are improperly placed, you force your body {neck and shoulders, as well as wrists} to compensate.  If your keyboard is too high, or too low, you tend to tighten those muscles, creating tension and soreness.  In contrast, your keyboard should be centered directly in front of you and slightly lower than your desktop, but above your lap so your arms and shoulders can be  completely relaxed while you are typing or using your mouse. An adjustable keyboard tray allows this placement and even frees up desk space.  It keeps your keyboard and mouse about two inches above your lap, slightly below your relaxed elbow height. You may also find significant improvement in muscle tension by using an ergonomically designed mini keyboard or a split keyboard.
  • Adjust Your Computer Screen: No matter what kind of computer you're using {including laptops!}, your monitor should be centered directly in front of you, about 15 to 25 inches away, and sit at eye-level. Looking down or up, turning to the side or leaning forward to look at your screen will strain your neck muscles, not to mention add eye strain to the equation. Monitor shelves are easy to install and quickly provide additional height.

Neck and shoulder pain can lower your productivity and create additional stress in the work place. These tips can bring relief to your current discomfort, and restore good posture to prevent additional pain.


Posted in adjustability , back support , eyestrain , keyboard tray , neck pain , repetitive strain injury (RSI) , shoulder pain , Uncategorized | Make a Comment

Find Fast Relief from Hand and Wrist Pain

Monday July 25, 2011

Do you experience pain in your hands or wrists? This is a common problem for computer users, but can also plague anyone, not just office workers. Repetitive motion and awkward posture (even while you sleep) can create pain in your hands and wrists. Try these quick tips to relieve your pain and prevent future injury.

Tips for immediate pain relief:

  • Apply ice. Cold compresses reduce inflammation in the wrists and hands and provide a slight numbing of the pain. Just remember to wrap ice in a towel, not putting it directly on your skin. Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can also quickly relieve pain. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about safe use of medication.
  • Try using a wrist splint. Wrist pain is most frequently caused by flexing or overworking your wrist area. A wrist splint will comfortably hold your hand and wrist in a straight and flat position, preventing over-flexing. Although it can be helpful to use a splint at work, most people find night to be the more effective time in relieving pain. At night we often bend awkwardly without realizing it, pinching the median nerve.
  • Fix your posture. Too often pain is caused by not using good positioning or posture in your hands, wrists and arms. First, while typing, our hands and wrists should be fully relaxed. Next, your hands should be level with your wrists and arms, not held at an angle. Lastly, you should see a straight line from your elbow all the way through your middle finger; your wrists should never be bent to the side.
  • Try an ergonomic keyboard. Ergonomic keyboards are designed to help you use good hand and wrist posture.  Try out the many styles and sizes of keyboards to find one that is comfortable and fits the size and shape of your hands.

These tips can help you find fast relief from hand and wrist pain. Try a wrist splint to stop the muscle strain and allow your muscle time to heal. Future pain can be prevented by practicing good hand positioning; a good, ergonomic keyboard will help you maintain good hand and wrist posture. Take action today to find the pain relief you need.

 

Posted in carpal tunnel syndrome , ergonomic keyboards , hand pain , wrist pain , wrist splint | Make a Comment