Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How to survive in the modern office.

Post 511 - Sitting at the computer with bad posture for extended periods of time can cause health problems, especially backaches and carpal tunnel syndrome. If you work in an office and use a computer, you can avoid injury by following these tips:

- Support your back.
A correctly adjusted chair will reduce the strain on your back. Get one that’s easily adjustable so that you can change the height, back position and tilt. Sit back in your seat, so your back touches the back of the chair. Have your knees level with your hips. Your feet should be flat on the floor. If they’re not, get a foot-rest which lets you rest your feet at a level that’s comfortable to you. Avoid crossing your legs, as this can cut off circulation and cause hip problems.

- Place your screen at eye level.
A good guide is to place the monitor about an arm's length away, with the top of the screen roughly at eye level. If necessary, get a stand for your monitor so you can do this.

- Avoid screen reflection.
Your screen should be as glare-free as possible. Position the monitor to avoid reflection from overhead lighting and sunlight. Adjusting the screen's brightness or contrast can also make it much easier to use.

- Look away from your computer screen often.
Focusing on a computer screen for too long can lead to dry eyes and eye fatigue. Be sure to change your focus often, looking at a point in the distance, and blink regularly to keep your eyes moist. Looking away from the monitor often will reduce eye fatigue. Covering your eyes for 10-15 seconds will also help.

- Sit close to your keyboard.
Place it right in front of you, with the part you use most often centered on your body. Adjust the tilt of the keyboard so it feels comfortable. If you sit in a forward or upright position, tilt the keyboard away from you at a negative angle. If you’re reclined, a slight positive tilt will help maintain a straight wrist position.

- Avoid wrist pain.
Your wrists should be straight when using the keyboard. Position and use the mouse as close to you as possible. Your upper arms should be relaxed at your sides. Keep your elbows vertical under your shoulder and right by your side. A mouse mat with a wrist pad may help to keep your wrist straight and avoid awkward bending.

- Use a document holder.
Choose one that’s at the same height and distance as your computer monitor. Holders that can be mounted to the monitor are ideal.

- Reduce repetitive movements.
Movements that you repeat over and over, such as answering the phone or reaching for a stapler, can lead to strains and stress. Reduce unnecessary movements as much as possible by keeping items you use often within arm's reach and using tools, such as a phone headset, to reduce repetitive movements. Repeatedly cradling the phone between your ear and shoulder can strain the muscles in your neck. Also, alternate the hand you use to operate your mouse.

- Move around often.
Your body can only tolerate being in one position for about 20 minutes before it starts to feel uncomfortable, according to the Mayo Clinic. About every 15 minutes, stand, stretch, walk around or change your position for at least 30 seconds.

- Keep your desk tidy.
Take a few minutes each day to go through your papers. Throw away those you don't need and file those you do. While keeping away from too much clutter is good, adding a few items that mean something to you will personalize your desk and make it more enjoyable to work at.

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