If there’s one thing any good physical therapist sees a lot of these days, it’s computer-related injuries. From keyboards that lead directly to carpal tunnel syndrome to our nasty habit of barely moving out of a sitting position all day, our desk jobs are wreaking havoc on our backs, necks, wrists, joints and knees, and even causing tension headaches. In fact, according to one study of Chinese office workers in 2012, 60 to 64% of all office workers between the ages of 25 and 40 years old who spend more than 3 hours at their computer each day are bound to eventually suffer from back pain. For neck pain, that figure jumps to 71 to 76%.
There’s no question the office can be dangerous.
However, according to an article entitled Proper Computer Ergonomics for a Healthy Neck and Back by physical therapist David Coletta, it doesn’t have to be, just as long as you pay attention to the setup or your workspace and to your posture. A supportive, adjustable chair is a must, as this will keep your back from straining or hunching. Armrests are also crucial, as you’ll need a place of respite whenever you’re not typing. If you work from a laptop or tablet, try hooking it into a larger, detached screen when in the office. This will ensure you can more easily place the screen at eye level. Also, it keeps your neck in a neutral position.
Two other essentials are an external split keyboard and an ergonomic mouse, so that you can find the ideal angles and position for your wrists and your typing and mousing styles. Keeping items separate rather than attached as they are in a laptop will ensure your entire workspace provides the right amount of distance between objects.
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