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7 Computer Ergonomics Tips

Part 1: Computer Ergonomics to Save Your Back and Neck


Ergonomics for computer work for less neck and back pain.

Computer work can cause a lot of neck and back pain.

Image (c) Cavan Images / Getty Images

Computer ergonomics is worth thinking about when you next sit down to do some computer work.

Computer work is a lot more demanding than it looks. Many of us slump or tilt while working at our computers, forcing our bodies to get into and hold positions that are not only uncomfortable but extremely stressful to the neck and spine.

Attention to basic computer ergonomics can help us avoid not only immediate back and neck pain but alleviate conditions such as recurring headaches and improve our concentration. So many benefits for just a few simple adjustments! Here's what you can do to make your computer work healthier for your body and mind.

7 Computer Ergonomics Tips

Computer Ergonomics Tip #1: Invest in a comfortable office chair.

If you are going to be spending a fair bit of time doing computer work, you should buy the best quality chair you can afford. Actual ergonomic office chairs, such as this Human Freescale Ergonomic Office Chair designed to suit your body, your workplace, and the tasks you perform there, are available.

Whatever type of office chair you purchase, make sure that you adjust it correctly. Positioning the chair so you are at an upright 90 degree angle when seated is not the right position for good computer ergonomics; you should actually be slightly reclined. This diagram from Chris Adams, About.com Ergonomics, shows the proper ergonomic chair set up and posture.

Computer Ergonomics Tip #2: Move regularly.

Holding any single position for a long period of time is bad for the body. Period. So it should be no surprise that one of the best things you can do in terms of computer ergonomics is to change position frequently.

Shift the position of your legs. Stop typing for a moment and dangle your arms at the side of your chair. Shrug your shoulders occasionally. And don't forget the eyes. Look away from the computer screen at something more distant such as a clock on the wall every ten minutes or so.

You should also take regular breaks, where you get up and walk around for a bit, stretch or do a few simple exercises.

Computer Ergonomics Tip #3: Position the monitor correctly.

The correct monitor position, from a computer ergonomics point of view, is one where when you look at the monitor, your neck is in the neutral position, neither bent down nor craned up. If you drew a line from your eyes to the screen, the line would strike the screen about one quarter of the way down.

Your back, as discussed in the first computer ergonomics tip about proper body position while seated, will be slightly reclined. You should never be leaning or straining forward to see whatever’s on your computer screen while doing computer work.

Having a monitor with a movable slide that lets you lower or raise the monitor will make it much easier to get your screen into the right position.

Computer Ergonomics Tip #4: Position the keyboard correctly.

It should not be on your lap or on top of the desk. Good computer ergonomics dictate that the keyboard be positioned below the desk on a keyboard pullout tray. This helps ensure that your wrists and forearms stay in the neutral position.

The keyboard should also be tilted away from the user. "Using a lowered keyboard holder on a preset tilt away from the user can help prevent carpal tunnel," according to the results from a 1995 Cornell study, and encourages a healthier seated posture (Ronda Crenshaw, Ergonomics 102; Creating a Healthy Workstation).

There are more computer ergonomics tips that you can use to stay healthy and be more productive on the next page...

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