Office Ergonomics

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May 9, 2012

Do you ever feel achy, sore or painful after spending time on the computer? If you’re like many of us, your answer is, at least sometimes, yes! Thankfully, there are some basic guidelines that you can use to help yourself feel better and improve your tolerance.

Start with your keyboard. Ideally, this should be at your elbow level, so when your hands are on the keyboard, your forearms are level and elbows are at your sides. So adjust your seat height to that position.

If your seat back is adjustable, adjust the position to give you good low back support. Make sure the seat tilt is locked in the upright position. If you need additional back support, try a low back cushion or pillow.

The optimal position for your monitor is directly in front of you, with the top of your screen at eye level. If you use bifocals for computer work, the screen should be lower, so you can look through them without tipping your head back. If you are using a laptop computer and are having symptoms, try a monitor holder to raise the screen level and a separate keyboard.

Your distance from the monitor should be about an arms-length away but be sure to adjust it if needed so that you don’t need to lean forward to read anything.

If you use a separate mouse, its location should be just to the right or left of the Keyboard, to avoid overreaching.

With your hips all the way back in the chair, there should be 1-3 fingers of space in between the back of your leg and the seat edge.

Armrests are not mandatory for computer work. If present, should be slightly higher than the point of the elbow, and adjustable.

With your chair properly adjusted as above, if your feet are not supported well, use a footrest.

If you’re typing off copy (books or papers), they should be brought up to monitor height by using a document holder. In a pinch you can use a clipboard. Never flat!

For moderate to frequent phone use, a headset is recommended. Don’t hold between ear and shoulder.

Lastly, remember to sit all the way back in your chair and pull it up close to your work.

Happy computing!!!

Sleeping Positions and the Proper Way to Get Out of Bed

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May 8, 2012

The way you sleep at night can make a big impact on the way your back and neck will feel in the morning when you wake up. Many people are causing more back and neck pain from the way they sleep. Below are some helpful tips for making sure you have the most comfort during the night.

For back pain, you want to make sure your pelvis, hips, and spine are not twisted out of place when you sleep. A good way to take some stress off your back is to try sleeping on your back with some pillows under your knees, so that your knees are bent up. If you don’t like sleeping on your back, try lying on your side with a pillow between your knees, to keep your hips and pelvis even with each other.

For neck pain, the worst thing you can do is lie on your stomach with your head turned one way. This can tighten your neck on one side and cause stiffness or pain when you wake up. Instead, try lying on your back. If you’d like to lie on your side, try folding a pillow or using two pillows under your head to keep your neck even, so it doesn’t tilt to one side as you sleep.

When you get out of bed in the morning, it is best to start lying on your back or side. If you’re on your back, bend both knees up and roll to the side, so that your shins are off the bed. Use the arm closest to the mattress to push yourself up so that you’re sitting, and be sure to keep your body straight. Avoid twisting your trunk! If you’re lying on your side, simply dangle your shins off the bed and push yourself up to sitting.

Tips for Better Sleep

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May 7, 2012

Not getting enough sleep is bad for our health. Sleep insufficiency is linked to motor vehicle accidents, occupational errors, and chronic diseases such as depression, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and cancer. According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult obtains an average of less than 7 hours of sleep per night. The amount of sleep we need changes as we age and varies between individuals, but it is recommended that adults obtain 7-9 hours of sleep per night. The following are tips that can be used to help improve sleeping ability.

  1. Go to bed at the same time every night, and get up at the same time every morning, even on weekends
  2. Avoid large meals immediately before bedtime
  3. Avoid nicotine
  4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol near bedtime
  5. Include physical activity in your daily routine, though avoid vigorous exercise in the few hours before going to bed
  6. Limit daytime naps. If you must take daytime naps, limit them to 10-30 minutes, and avoid taking naps later in the afternoon or evening
  7. Create a relaxing bedtime routine, such as reading, taking a warm bath or shower, or listening to relaxing music
  8. Use your bedroom for sleep and sex only – avoid watching television or using computer while in bed
  9. Create a comfortable sleeping environment – get rid of distractions, such as noises or bright light, sleep on a comfortable mattress, keep the temperature cool
  10. If you frequently have trouble sleeping, contact your physician to identify and treat any possible underlying causes that may be preventing you from sleeping

Benefits of Traction

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May 4, 2012

When it comes to neck and back pain, there are many benefits from traction. During traction, your neck or low back are given a pull from a machine in order to stretch those areas. Treatments are usually ten to fifteen minutes long.

Traction is used to treat pinched nerves, neck and back tightness, and headaches. While in traction, the neck or the low back is stretched, and along with it, the spine is stretched a little as well. If you have pinched nerves in your spine, this can help take some of the pressure off and ease arm or leg pain. Traction is also good for treating bulging discs in your spine, which can also pinch your nerves if they lose enough water in the middle. By pulling your spine apart a little, traction can help the disc’s water and gel slip back into place.

Also, neck traction is good for treating headaches because it can stretch the muscles in the back of your neck and at the base of your skull. These muscles often cause headaches when they get too tight.

While traction is good for many conditions, there are some things it should not be used with, such as spinal fusion surgery, osteoporosis, and some spinal problems where the bones in your spine are slipping out of place.