There are many factors to consider in ensuring that your computer workstation is ergonomically safe. Your overall health, well being and safe work habits all play a vital role in reducing the risk of muscle pain and subsequent injury. I have compiled the top five things that people do while working at their computer workstations, which makes them prone to soft tissue injuries such as neck pain, shoulder pain, wrist pain, elbow pain and back pain. The top five issues to avoid while sitting at your desk include the following:
Leaning forward with your forearms on the desk
This is commonly seen in people who spend good part of their day reading lengthy e-mails or articles on their monitors. Depending on the frequency and the amount of time spent in this position, it may cause shoulder and neck muscle strain. There also may be some symptoms of discomfort and pain. This can easily be corrected by raising the monitor at eye level or slightly below eye level or by adjusting the chair higher, ensuring that both the feet are flat on the floor.
Eye strain and your computer workstation
Many people are noted to squint their eyes while viewing their monitor screens. This is a sign of eye fatigue and it is usually seen in people towards the end of their workday. Other probable causes include the viewing distance from the monitor, lack of taking regular breaks at work and lack of sleep. The viewing distance should be at an armâ€™s length between the person and their monitor. For people working in the computer industry, it is recommended that an eye examination be completed once every two years. Taking your breaks regularly ensures that your muscles do not get over fatigued and it also increases your overall productivity.
Neck posture and Ergonomics
Do your ever experience neck and shoulder pain while working at your computer workstation? If your answer is yes, then you are probably flexing your neck forward while viewing the monitor screen and this is one of the most common problems seen in computer users. This is directly related to your posture while working and this problem can easily be resolved. Follow this simple rule; sit with your ears over your shoulders and shoulder over your hips. This will not only reduce the incidence of your neck and shoulder pain; it will also promote a more neutral sitting posture.
Keyboard and your posture
Have you ever noticed while working at your computer workstation, especially at night, you tend to put your feet up and the keyboard ends up in your lap? Placing your keyboard in your lap while typing or working on the computer puts more strain on your neck and shoulder muscles. The above described posture also strains your low back muscles. Therefore, it is crucial that you maintain a neutral posture while working at your computer workstation i.e. by placing the keyboard on a drop down keyboard tray while ensuring that the keyboard and the mouse are on the same level.
Forearm position and the mouse pad
Have you ever started using the mouse placed close to your keyboard in the morning and noticed it getting further away from the keyboard as the day progresses? Letâ€™s face it – these days when you enter your office, there are several e-mails to read, phone messages to be picked up, meetings to be attended, reports to be reviewed, and several projects on the go. What ends up happening is that the keyboard and the mouse pad keep migrating sideways as the day progresses. Therefore, it is recommended that an L-shaped workstation be used. Computer can be set-up in the middle or on one side of the desk and the remaining space can be utilized for completing non-computer related tasks.
Within Vancouver, each workplace requires different practices to ensure your safety. Please contact the trained Occupational Therapists at Complete Rehab Solutions to see if an ergonomic assessment is suitable for you. We can provide recommendations for safe working practices to ensure that you work healthier for much longer.