Improper computer ergonomics can have a strong negative impact on how you feel throughout your work day, and can even impact your productivity. Whether you're at home or in the office, we offer some tips on how to make quick changes to improve your work station.
Like it or not computers have become an integral part of our day to day lives. From work to pleasure, we are all spending a significant amount of time on some form of a computer. This usage has drastically risen over the past few decades. In 1984 only 8% of households owned a computer, compare that to 2016 when 89% of people report having a computer in their home.
This drastic increase in technology use has of course brought on some amazing innovation that has changed our life for the better. Unfortunately it has also brought on a cascade of musculoskeletal dysfunction that comes from chronic poor computer posture and overall lack of motion. It is critical to anyone who wants to maintain their health and wellness to find an appropriate balance of technological use, while making sure that their day to day activity does not decrease.
How to Improve Your Computer Ergonomics
We want to offer you some straightforward tips and ergonomic changes so that you can be aware of how to use your computer without pain or discomfort. Below are a few things to review and evaluate to ensure you are correctly using your technology.
1. How long are you in front of a computer screen?
We are not designed to sit or stand in one position for long periods of time. Both are problematic for our musculoskeletal system and can lead to a multitude of problems. It is very important to alternate your positions throughout the day as well as taking plenty of small breaks to move and stretch your body. A common misconception is that taking more small breaks will lead to a decrease in productivity however research shows when people take a small break every 30 minutes to give their body motion and a change of scenery it actually increases energy levels and focus. If you are not already changing positions and taking breaks you need to consider how to make this happen during your computer time.
2. Is your screen in the correct position?
This is one of the most common ergonomic mistakes that is made every day. The height of your screen, as well as the distance from your face, is critical. Most screens are too low and too far away which leads to a hunched over posture that is required to look at your work. So what is the right height and distance from you? Height: The screen should be located so that your eyes are looking straight at the screen with ⅔ of the screen below eye level and ⅓ above. This will ensure you do not flex your head forward and down at the screen. Distance: The screen should be no more than 18 inches away from your face. If it is too far you will need to lean forward or hunch down throughout the day to do your work. When the screen is close you can comfortably see what you're doing from a neutral and upright position.
3. Are you using a laptop most of the time?
If you primarily use a laptop, you are using a computer that cannot be ergonomic on it’s own. This is because the screen and the keys are connected meaning only one can be properly placed. If you are using a laptop you need to get a stand to place the laptop on so the screen can be elevated to the correct height. You then use an external keyboard and mouse so that your arms can rest comfortably at your side with your elbows at roughly 90 degrees. This can be done for cheap and will make a huge difference.
We would love to teach you more!
These tips will be hugely impactful when implemented, however they really only scratch the surface of ergonomics. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask, or Dr. Andrew is offering complimentary virtual Health Talks to businesses that are committed to keeping their employees safe and healthy. Whether you’re working from home or back at the office, being aware of your ergonomics can benefit your overall health as well as your productivity. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like more information about providing a health talk for your workplace.