I had the opportunity to attend a class by registered nurse, Deidre Rogers of Ergovera.com in ergonomics last week. The lessons I learned helped me be more aware of my posture.
As writers, we spend a lot of time in front of the computer so I thought the ergonomics of the writer would be a valuable topic to share with all of you.
Here is a summary of what I learned:
- Most desks are made to fit men. This means the average height of a desk is 27 inches from floor to elbow. It's advisable to use an adjustable desk that you can elevate or lower according to your position/size.
- A keyboard tray is most useful since it will likely place your keyboard at the level of your neutral elbow/wrist positions. Your elbow must rest comfortably at your side with wrist 1-2 inches below your elbows when typing.
- It is helpful to purchase an adjustable desk which can be raised or lowered to fit your needs, especially if multiple people are using one desk.
- A chair with a convex back supports the back better. SomaErgo.com and Ask Ergo Works offers a wide range of modular chair systems which you can adjust to fit your body.
- The arm rest of a chair must be in a neutral position. Again, find a chair that is not too wide. Your arms should fall naturally on the arm rest without you having to spread your arms wider than your shoulder width.
- When sitting, your back, head, and neck should be in a neutral position. To help you with this, visualize your head as a bowling ball balancing on your neck/spine. Your head too forward or back can cause strain on your neck and shoulders.
- Your hips should be 1-2 inches above the knee. Your back should be supported. Women tend to sit straight, perched on their seats. Make use of your backrest. That's what it's for.
- If you use a gym ball, again make sure your hip bone is 1-2 inches above your knee height. Deidre Rogers, RN advises using gym balls to no more than 20 minutes at a time and 3 times a day at maximum.
Note: While the gym ball helps engage core abdominal muscles, improves stability, and strengthens lower back, the absence of an arm and back rest can cause neck and shoulder strain. The gym ball also may not be tall enough for your desk putting your wrist and elbow in a compromised position.
- Your eyes lead your posture. The top line of your text on the screen should be 2 inches lower than your line of sight. In other words, your eye sight should be looking at a 15 degree angle downward towards the top line of your text.
- When sitting at the screen for long periods of time, the computer glare can be straining on the eye. Give your eyes a rest and follow THE RULE OF 20.
- After 20 minutes of viewing, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- The body also needs to refresh itself. After 20 minutes sitting in front of the computer, loosen your limbs, stretch, or take a walk.
KEYBOARD AND MOUSE
- If you are small-boned like me, the smaller your carpal tunnel bone is. This can lead to poor circulation and cold hands. So in small-boned people, it is important to be mindful of your posture to prevent future problems that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Your wrist should be straight and in line with the rest of your arm.
- With your fingers on the keyboard, your elbow should be slightly above your wrist at an almost 120-degree angle.
Here is a photo of an ergonomic keyboard that positions your wrist and arms in a neutral position. Notice the angle of the keyboard.
|Available at Ask Ergo Works|
- Your keyboard length shouldn't be wider than your shoulders. Otherwise, the reach of your mouse will be unnatural.
- People with broad chests will benefit with the split keyboard design.
- The use of your mouse can develop a thumb disorder called De Quervain disorder.
De Quervain's tenosynovitis (dih-kwer-VAINS ten-oh-sine-oh-VIE-tis)- "is a painful condition affecting the tendons on the thumb side of your wrist. If you have de Quervain's tenosynovitis, it will probably hurt every time you turn your wrist, grasp anything or make a fist." (Mayo Clinic)
|Evloluent mouse available at Evoluent.com|
- Your mouse should be placed at the level of your keyboard and close to it so you don't have to reach for it. Reaching can cause problems to your rotator cuff.
- Shortcut keys eliminate mouse use. Deidre advises you use shortcut keys as much as possible. It's best to use two hands when using a shortcut key combination to avoid straining either hand with awkward finger and wrist positioning. Here is a list of Shortcut keys.
- Do not rest your wrist on the keyboard unless you have a wrist cushion for your keyboard.
- Practice wrist-floating-style of typing and keep your arms in a neutral position- elbow bent comfortably by your side with wrist 1-2 inches below your elbows.
- When typing, use a light touch on the keys.
"The tendons from your fingers connect near your elbow so striking the keys too hard can lead to problems you might not associate with your keyboard like pain and inflammation in your elbows (Epicondylitis)." (Healthy Computing)
Now that you are comfortable in your chair, type away my friends!
Note: If you are more of a pen and pencil kind of writer, be sure to use a light grip. Let your ink flow as do your thoughts.
I hope this topic was helpful to you as it was for me.
Wishing you all a healthy body and a creative mind!
****************Here is a summary of the resources I've used: