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Avoiding the Ouch – Desk Ergonomics
Over the last couple of years many of us have moved from a company workplace to work-from-home. This changed our daily dynamic in many ways with one possibly being less mobility. In addition, as I get older my body aches have increased (my parents were right, should I tell them?!). I can be sitting, standing, or walking when a pain occurs. Outside of reversing time, exercising, stretching before we exercise, yoga, eating healthy, what can we do (like those are not enough 😊)? Reversing time like the Benjamin Button movie (I haven’t seen it because it is a creepy concept to me) is not possible, so that is out. Another option is to medically slow the aging process but since we don’t all have hyperbolic chambers like Tom Brady, that option is out too. If you love or at least tolerate exercise or yoga or eating healthy (most of the time), great, keep it going. Plus, even while you are working you can eat healthy as long as you don’t spill anything into your computer that damages it!
What else can we do while working for those of us who sit at a desk and stare at a screen all day? The suggestions below hopefully will help ward away daily aches and possible long-term negative effects.
Take care of your eyes
Practice the 20-20-20 Eye Rule – Looking at screens too much can lead to eye strain. Eye strain will likely not cause permanent damage to your vision but can be painful. Try every 20 minutes spent using a screen, look away at something that is 20 feet away from you for a total of 20 seconds. How far away is 20 feet? Look out a window at an object that seems far away, like a tree or a building across the street. If you work in a small space, try walking outdoors or into a larger area.
Sit farther away from your computer screen. A good rule is to be at least 25 inches or roughly an arm’s length, away.
Consider using a matte screen filter to reduce your screen’s glare.
Buy some artificial tears to use when your eyes feel dry. A humidifier can also help. Blink often to help replenish your eye’s own tears.
Dim your screen if it’s much brighter than the rest of the light in the area. You could also adjust the room lighting so the contrast is lessened.
Keep your screens clean. Dirty screens with fingerprints and other debris can strain your eyes even more.
Elevate your monitor so that the top of the screen is at or slightly below eye level. If you wear bifocals, lower the monitor an additional 1 to 2 inches for more comfortable viewing.
Someone told me when I was a child that eating carrots helps your eye-sight. I don’t know if that has been proven but feel free to try it!
Setup your workplace to fit you
Under the desk, make sure there’s clearance for your knees, thighs and feet.
Adjust the chair height so feet rest flat on the floor and thighs are parallel to the floor.
If the desk is too low and can’t be adjusted, place sturdy boards or blocks under the legs.
If the desk is too high and can’t be adjusted, raise your chair and use a footrest, if needed.
Adjust chair armrests so your arms gently rest on them when your shoulders are relaxed and where your elbows are at a 90° angle when using the keyboard.
When using your keyboard and mouse, wrists should be at the same level as your elbows and kept straight. If needed, use a wrist support pad.
Use keyboard shortcuts to reduce extended mouse use.
If you are ambidextrous, alternate the hand you use to operate the mouse by moving the mouse to the other side of your keyboard.
If you frequently talk on the phone and type or write at the same time, place your phone on speaker or use a headset rather than cradling the phone between your head and neck.
Don’t be sedentary
Get up and move every 30 minutes – Take a quick walk around the office, stretch at your desk, or stand during phone calls. This can possibly reduce blood clots in our legs.
We may get so wrapped up in what we are doing that we forget to take a break so try setting a timer.
This helps with keeping your eyes lubricated, provides a reason to walk around, and is good for your overall health.
Now that we have settled into the “new normal” of our work-from-home life, let’s not to forget to take care of our bodies because we only have one life to live.