Do you have back troubles, carpal tunnel, or just generally feel uncomfortable at the end of the work day? Chances are that even if you aren’t experiencing any of these symptoms chances are you still don’t have an ergonomic workspace. Most of us work about eight hours a day, which can be a long time to sit still, and we often cause ourselves unnecessary pain and uncomfortability as a result. Luckily, there are many things you can do in order to enhance and alleviate several of the problems resulting from a not very ergonomic work station.
There’s absolutely no doubt that laptops are incredibly convenient for the working man or woman. That doesn’t mean they’re particularly well-designed ergonomically speaking. The position of the keyboard and the screen is far from optimal for both your eyesight and typing. Many companies sell laptop stands that will properly angle the keyboard at a angle conducive to comfortable typing as well as giving you a view of the screen that allows for the center of the screen to be adjusted to your eye level and not requiring you to hunch over with poor posture. Trackpads also aren’t the best, so investing in an external mouse and keyboard for your laptop can be a great decision in order to improve your work station.
Your average, everyday keyboard isn’t designed with comfort and the prevention of ailments such as carpal tunnel in mind. In order to prevent general discomfort from typing, keyboard users should allow their hands to “float” while typing, not resting them on the desk. Angling your wrists too far upward or downward can result in discomfort, pain and carpal tunnel syndrome. However, this can be a difficult endeavor for many and your wrists can become easily tired. Luckily, there are options such as tented or split keyboards and wrist rests that will help you achieve better wrist posture while typing.
It’s no secret that a lot of people have bad posture, especially when it comes to sitting up straight. Slouching in your chair can cause potential issues with your heart, lungs and gastrointestinal system. A good chair can help prevent a lot of these things, when sitting your chair should offer good support for both your upper and lower backs, and if your chair doesn’t allow for this many an office supply chain sells back supports for chairs. It is suggested that you change posture often from sitting, to declining to reclining. When fully reclined your chair should have an angle between 100 and 120 degrees. Alternatively, if your place of work allows it, you can stand, but keeping a footrest nearby can be a good idea to prevent sore feet.
Along with your keyboard, your mouse is probably one of the most used parts of your workspace everyday, and like keyboards improper use can lead to a lot of discomfort and potential pain. Keeping your mouse close to your keyboard is a necessity, this will allow you to do rapid switching between typing and using your mouse without large motions that can over time wear you out. Likewise, start to learn your keyboard commands, not only does this often require much less work than reaching over and using the mouse to go through menus but it will speed up the your pace at which you work. Finally, some ergonomic experts suggest switching the hand with which you use your mouse to avoid repetitive strain on one hand. Though it may be difficult at first, you’re body will quickly adapt to the change.
Though most bosses and many employees actually don’t like taking breaks from their work, a break every once in a while can be useful in ensuring that you don’t strain your muscles from typing or get eye strain from staring at the monitor for too long. Though an extended break not not be possible, you can easily take a 1-2 minute break every 30 minutes. These “micro-breaks” can be effective for briefly readjusting your eyes and allowing your hands a brief moment of rest. If your work is conducive to it, switch between tasks occasionally, if you move from a typing intensive task to one that’s not so typing intensive you can take “natural breaks” for your body without stopping your work output.
Ricardo Casas is the Founder and CEO of Fahrenheit Marketing LLC, an Austin, TX based Internet Marketing company. As the owner of a small office, Casas regularly sees less than stellar ergonomic work station designs and encourages behaviors that prevent lack of comfort while in the office.