Computer Use: Minimizing the Strain on Your Neck

I can spend fifty hours a week at my desk easily. My work depends on it; then when work is done, there are the usual tasks such as paying bills online and keeping in touch with distant friends and family. Quite often a day has flown by and I haven’t moved position much. That not only strains my eyes, but it is a risk factor for back and neck problems.

In an office setting ergonomics has become a buzz word we have developed an immunity to. There are policies, handbooks and sets of rules which have been put together so we don’t hurt ourselves. We know they are there, but may not be using them. It is easier to rely on our subconscious habits. Being aware of and breaking out of those habits can save you chronic pain, or potentially more serious long-term problems.

To cut a very complex science down to a few basics, below are useful tips to remember when using a desktop computer, laptop or tablet device. These only cover neck and back strain. More information is available online on keyboard heights and other body strain issues.

  • Keep alignment in mind. Your back, neck and head should be as straight as possible, at all times. If you stay aligned, you are not fatiguing and stressing your spine. If your shoulders aren’t relaxed, your position is wrong.
  • Don’t cradle phones between your ear and shoulder; use the speaker phone button, a head set or put the phone down for a time to free both hands. This will save your neck.
  • Have lumbar support for your back on chairs.
  • The top third of your computer screen should be level with your eyes. iMacs have screens which adjust up and down easily. Similar set-ups make it simple to move the screen whatever your height, or if you need to stand up. That will save you crouching back down to read the screen. Also, make sure your chair is at the correct height for your desk.
  • If you need to repeat tasks over and over, make sure you take frequent breaks or alternate tasks, so you can get up and move without feeling you are wasting time.
  • ideas eatenDon’t sit in awkward postures for more than a very short time.
  • Use laptop risers and iPad stands which conform to the rules above. If you are unable to, or still find your neck aches when using mobile devices, minimize their use and/or take frequent breaks.
  • Keep heavy items such as reference books, between shoulder and waist height.
  • Make sure that objects you use frequently; such as staplers, the phone and pen holders, are within easy reach so you aren’t over-reaching to pick them up.
  • If you need to use paper documents as you work, a document holder which is attached to your monitor, or free-standing, may decrease neck strain as you aren’t looking up and down repeatedly. Even slightly bending your back and neck can create pain at the end of the day. It is repetition which creates the strain.
  • Learn to touch type so you need to look at the keyboard less.
  • Software companies make programs which will pop up on your screen, reminding you it is time to stretch, move and give your eyes a break. That will also help your spinal joints.

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This post is an expanded excerpt from “Avoiding Back Pain: A Simple Guide.” This is free e-book you can download here. The file is a 700kb .pdf file which will work on any computer or tablet device. It is protected so you will not be able to print or copy from it, but please, pass it on freely!

REBLOGS WELCOMED

This article / blog post and the book cover are Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2012. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

No images on this blog may be copied, captured, or altered for your own purpose without the consent of the originating owner. Where images are marked as being iStockphoto.com images, they are paid for and licenced to Cate for use on this blog. If you take them, iStockphoto.com has the right to take legal action against you for Copyright Infringement.

Please see the Blog Content and Image Copyright page of this blog for further information in regards to Guest Posts, other images, Cate’s checks on infringements and Liability.

Are Your Books Weighing You Down?

When I was at school, we used sports bags for our books. After looking at the health statistics and carrying out research, it was suggested that one possible cause for Adolescent *Scoliosis, was carrying those heavy bags in one hand. It was thought that a lopsided manner of carrying bags, placed extra stress on the growing spine, causing it to curve abnormally.

An answer was found. Backpacks were bought in for school use. The idea was that they would distribute the weight more evenly. However, over time the argument has continued as some studies claim that Scoliosis in adolescents is still too prominent, thus the back packs weren’t the answer. Others have argued that backpacks are the correct solution, however, they are being over-filled and worn too low on the back; thus the continued damage.

While a great choice, any backpack, whatever age you use them, may be too large for your body; packed unevenly so the weight is unevenly distributed; or carried by the handles. Doing so defeats their purpose. One study found that the weight of backpacks carried by children was more than it is recommended that a fully grown, adult body should carry. A child’s backpack weight should not exceed ten percent of their own body weight.

Over-filling anything you carry has the potential to do you damage. That doesn’t just include backpacks. It includes handbags, laptop bags, shopping bags and briefcases. These are risk items we don’t think about.

Handbags and briefcases come in various styles: some with long handles which can be slung across the shoulders to distribute weight more evenly; and some with very short hand-holds which, if heavy, will pull on your spine, shoulders and neck. Go to a busy bus stop. Often you will see workers juggling both a brief case and a laptop bag. Whether in school or out, the strain we are placing on our spines is increasing and if we aren’t careful, so will our injuries.

So have a think about your habits in what you carry. What can you remove to lessen the load? Are the handles long enough and wide enough to distribute weight? Have you gotten into a bad habit of carrying your load only on one side of your body, stressing that side more? Anything small you can do to reduce the pull on your spine will be helpful.

If you would like to know more about how to take care of your back and prevent injury, download your free copy of Avoiding Back Pain: A Simple Guide. This is the page link for downloading the book . The file is a 700kb .pdf file which will work on any computer or tablet device. It is protected so you will not be able to print or copy from it, but please, pass it on freely!


* Scoliosis is an abnormal curve in your spine, which can occur in the upper (thoracic) or lower (lumbar) spine; sometimes both which creates what is called a double major curve. Scoliosis can range in seriousness from a mild problem which creates back pain, to curves so severe that they can reduce the amount of room needed for the heart, lungs and your gastrointestinal system. Long term untreated mild Scoliosis can create chronic pain and abnormal wear and tear on the facet joints and other structures of the spine; leading to additional medical problems.


REBLOGS WELCOMED

This blog post, the book cover and it’s content are Copyright Cate Russell-Cole 2012. All rights are reserved Internationally. You may not reproduce it in any form, in part of whole, without Cate’s prior written permission. That includes usage in forms such as print, audio and digital imaging including pdf, jpg, png etc. A fee may be requested for re-using her work if it is for a commercial venture. Link sharing and Pinterest pins are most welcome as long as Cate is the attributed Author.

No images on this blog may be copied, captured, or altered for your own purpose without the consent of the originating owner. Where images are marked as being iStockphoto.com images, they are paid for and licenced to Cate for use on this blog. If you take them, iStockphoto.com has the right to take legal action against you for Copyright Infringement.

Please see the Blog Content and Image Copyright page of this blog for further information in regards to Guest Posts, other images, Cate’s checks on infringements and Liability.