It’s pretty common for anyone nowadays to spend several hours in front of a computer. Some people have to do it for work, while others for studies and other tasks. Long periods on the computer will definitely put some strain on our bodies.
Despite not being normally seen as a strenuous activity, engaging with computers for extended periods actually does affect our bodies negatively. It gives rise to physical problems like backaches, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, stiff necks, headaches and other musculoskeletal disorders.
There are some improvements you can make to your computer usage habits. These simple ergonomic modifications will help elevate and prevent any adverse effects, like when you’re at your home office.
8 Ergonomic Improvements You Can Make When Using a Computer
These ergonomic improvements are simple and easy to carry out. In fact, the concept of ergonomic comfort is all about adjusting your posture and habits. Ergonomics is the design of a computer workstation that fits your natural body movements and functions. These are some of the most effective steps you can take to increase your comfort when using a computer:
1. Eye level screens
Always make sure that the screen is at the same level as your eyes. The top of the screen should at least be on the same level as your eyes. This will prevent you from needing to strain your neck looking down while staring at the computer screen. If you’re using a laptop, invest in a separate plug and play keyboard and mouse, so that you can raise the laptop to eye level, and still keep your hands by your sides.
2. Posture is everything
The importance of good posture cannot be stressed on enough. Good posture will save you from many long term effects of being sedentary. Part of good posture is to ensure that your head and neck are resting on your backbone as much as possible. Avoid straining or leaning forward as you stare at the screen.
Also, you should avoid slouching as this puts a lot of pressure on your vertebrae. Try and sit up straight with the help of a lumbar support chair. Chairs with a built-in lumbar support will offer you a firm backing to sit up straight without needing much energy, thereby reducing the chances of fatigue by the end of the day.
3. Keep your arms supported
It’s important to keep your hands at the same level as your waist, and supported as you use them to type or navigate. Make sure the chair you’re sitting on has armrests so that you don’t strain your arms as you use them. An ergonomic chair will have adjustable armrests that can ensure that your arms aren’t left hanging for hours. If there isn’t enough support for your arms, they will cramp and ache from the strain.
4. Take breaks regularly
Taking breaks will ensure that you don’t strain yourself, be it your wrists, back, eyes or feet. For every hour of computer usage, take at least a 15 minute break. Taking a break means stopping all computer activity. This includes not watching the screen, whether videos of social media..
Instead, take this opportunity to do some stretches, or take a short walk to the pantry or kitchen to make yourself a drink. Taking regular breaks will give your muscles the rest it needs and avoid it from injuries due to overuse.
5. Reduce screen glare
Avoid placing your screen in front of a bright window or lights as this will cause a glare. It will also stress your eyes out, causing you to have a headache or migraine attack if you’re exposed to it for prolonged periods.
You should also ensure that the place you’re sitting is well lit and that your screen is not too bright. The brightness of your screen should be adjusted to your surroundings to make sure your eyes are not burdened too.
6. Keep things within reach
The keyboard and mouse should be within easy reach of your outstretched arms. You shouldn’t need to stretch out in order to reach them. On the other hand, you should also not be too close to your work desk so that your arms are slightly curved as you work rather than completely bent.
At the same time, any stationery or files that you need regularly should also be within easy reach of your hands, so you don’t have to keep stretching to reach them. This continuous reaching may have an adverse effect on your arms and back in the long run.
7. Keep your feet on the ground
It’s really important to adjust your chair so that your feet rest firmly on the ground. The reason for this is so that your feet will be able to support your entire body’s weight. Letting your feet dangle will be very tiring, and cause you to suffer from fatigue at the end of the day. Your work station chair or ergonomic chair should be adjustable. You can lower or raise it so that it is exactly the height from your knees to the floor.
8. Screens should be an arm’s length away
When we were kids, our parents would scold us for sitting too near the TV screen. There’s plenty of truth to this. Sitting too close to any sort of screen will strain your eyes. This includes a computer screen too. Therefore, the most ideal distance would be about an arm’s length. Adjust your screen so that you can still reach your mouse and keyboard, but the screen is the ideal distance away.
Creating An Ergonomic Environment For Yourself
One of the leading things you can do to have a more ergonomic computer usage environment is to invest in ergonomic gadgets and furniture. You can consider going for ergonomic chairs and table in addition to your ergonomic keyboard and ergonomic mouse setup.
Another thing you can do is reduce physical stress and keep healthy. Strengthen your body by sleeping enough, maintaining a healthy diet, exercising and more. This way, your body will be less prone to the negative effects of prolonged computer usage.