Increase your computing comfort

Your workstation may be playing havoc with your health. Long hours of typing and slouching in your chair can lead to aches and pains in your hands, wrists, back, and neck.

“Musculoskeletal problems, including repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, are certainly a growing problem in the workplace,” says Trevor Schell, an ergonomist in Sudbury, Ontario. “Even so, using properly adjusted ergonomic equipment, taking breaks, and maintaining good posture can help people prevent many of these syndromes.”

The following suggestions can reduce your risk for keyboard-related pain.

Make adjustments

To do the job they’re designed to do, ergonomic chairs and computer desks must be adjusted to fit the person using them.

“If your office chair has a lumbar support designed to support the low back, you must adjust it to fit your specific height,” says Steve MacDonald, another Sudbury ergonomist. “Otherwise, the design function is going to waste, and you’re not getting the benefit.”

Other adjustments to improve your comfort include the angle of the seat, the height of the armrests, and the height of the chair.

“Most office equipment is designed to fit the average man,” Schell says. “So to achieve any degree of comfort, women have to make the necessary adjustments.”

Perfect your posture

Slouching in your chair—even an expensive ergonomic one—can cause problems if nerves and tendons are being pinched or compressed.

To sit in the ideal posture for computer work:

  • Adjust your chair height so your wrists can be in a naturally straight position, not bent up or down when you’re typing.

  • Keep your elbows bent at a right angle, close to your body.

  • Sit up straight and relax your shoulders.

  • Bend your knees at a right angle. Put your feet flat on the floor or on a footrest.

Put it together

“The science of ergonomics can go only so far,” Schell says. “The keys to comfort are being aware of the positions and actions that can cause upper body and low back issues and avoiding them.” 

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