The computer work station is very close to eclipsing the television set as far as passive damage to our health is concerned. That is, if it hasn’t already. We are all spending more of our lives in front of computers with no regard as to how our bodies handle it, and the truth is they don’t handle it well at all.
Your body was made to run and jump, not point and click. While the latter may seem much “easier” than the former, it’s not any easier on your body.
Give your workstation a 5-minute tune up to make it more body-friendly. Spending this short amount of time to occasionally set things right can make you more efficient as well as save you money and years of pain down the road.
- Monitor – Realize that your head, supported by your neck and shoulders, follows your eyes. This spells trouble for everyone who’s monitor is too low, which, coincidentally, is almost all of us. We all still use desks that were made for writing on, except now we put computers on them. Sitting with your feet flat on the ground, look straight ahead. ideally you should see the top 2~3 inches of your monitor at your eye level. This makes it more likely that you’ll look down the page using your eyes, not your shoulders and neck.
- Wrist Rest – This unfortunately named item is ubiquitous in the modern office. Problem is, it’s not a rest for your wrists. Your wrists contain all kinds of important stuff to make your hands work packed into a very small area. Look at the bottom of your wrist right now; you can practically see all that stuff. You know why? There’s no fat pad to protect it. Don’t rest your wrists for an extended period of time on anything. Wrist rests should be called palm rests, because that’s what they’re for. Your palms are fatty pads perfectly designed for resting the weight of your arms and hands on. So move your “wrist rest” into a position where you can set your palms on it for 30 seconds every 20 minutes or so to give your wrists a rest.
- Angles – Old and busted: back and elbows at 90°. New hotness: open angles and butts in seats. Elbows at 110°, sit all the way back in your chair with your sacrum against the back rest. No-nos are “perching” and “slouching”. Women tend to be perchers, men tend to be slouchers.
- Mouse – Clean it. Laser, infrared, or rubber ball, pick it up and get the gunk off the bottom. Do it now and do it frequently in the future. That gunk can make your mouse less responsive, which will make you instinctively grip it harder in an effort to be more precise. Over time this can lead to nasty repetitive stress injuries. Also want to take this opportunity to adjust the scrolling sensitivity in your control panel or system preferences. Find a balance between so sensitive it leads to the death-grip syndrome described above, but sensitive enough that you don’t end up doing a lot of excessive movement to get your mouse from one thing to the next.
- Levels – The keyboard-only tray was invented by a chiropractor, I’m sure. Having your mouse up and away from your keyboard might be the worst possible thing you could do to your body while sitting in front of a computer. If you have to stretch to reach something that you use a lot (a la mouse), then your workspace needs an adjustment. The mouse and keyboard are the primary interface with the computer for most of us. Get them on the same level so that your seating position can then be tailored to easy, strain-free access to both of those items.
Now back to
surfing for porn window shopping work. We may love our shiny boxes, but we shouldn’t kill ourselves over them.