Healthy Computer Use
One of the most common health problems arising from regular computer use is repetitive stress injury. This essentially means we are treating our bodies like a machine and doing too much of the same thing for too long. By doing this we are forcing our bodies to respond with inflammation. This inflammation commonly manifests as tendonitis, numbness, or pain that may be direct or referred by another part of the body that has been strained or overworked.
Many people working in a computer related filed have needed to change occupations because they suffered chronic debilitating pain due to repetitive stress. Our bodies do best with balanced variety, whether in our diet or in our physical movement. But what can we do to improve our computer use health?
First, we should limit the amount of time we spend at a computer, period. The more time we spend doing the same thing the greater the chance we will overdo it. Correcting this behavior requires that we take regular breaks, stretch, and spend time away from sitting. Even a few minutes AFK can be helpful.
Our workstation or work area should be arranged so it is ergonomic and comfortable. Paramount to this is having screens that are at eye level, a keyboard that feels good to your hands and fingers, and a desk that is elevated to a good height to minimize neck, eyes, back, and hand fatigue.
For all of you who use a laptop as you primary computer, please note this quote from my wife, who is a licensed physical therapist. "Laptops were never designed to be ergonomic or healthy." I would extend the same comment to smartphones, tablets, and handheld game consoles.
Fine. We have all heard this before, so what? We still have our technology addictions and social media to maintain. How do we do that and not break our bodies? The short answer is variety. Here are some places to begin:
- Make sure your workspace is conducive to healthy posture and body mechanics.
- Invest in a good office desk, a good computer keyboard, and try different input devices, such as a trackball or touchpad.
- Learn more keyboard shortcuts to minimize "mouse hunting" and unnecessary keystrokes.
- Try to be an ambidextrous mouser to distribute repetition across both sides of your body. Yes, you can do it, with practice. If you're truly adventurous you can try getting used to a two mouse setup, with one mouse for your left hand, and one for your right hand. This arrangement can be beneficial in a number of ways, including allowing you to someday hold a pencil in one hand to take notes, while driving a mouse pointer with your other hand. Very handy. 5.If you are mono-monitor, explore having multiple monitors. Having more space to lay out your work reduces the number of clicks required to get the information in front of you, and it also increases your productivity.
Okay, let's have some healthy computing!