If you spend a lot of time using a computer, you’re sure to notice a few aches and pains pop up from time to time. Eye strain, sore neck, back, or arm muscles, and maybe even carpal tunnel syndrome are just a few of the problems that can develop from looking at a computer monitor, typing on a keyboard, or using a mouse for hours on end.
Sure, computers can simplify our lives, and some people actually make their living using computers as a tool, but these problems are real, and persistent. Don’t worry. There are ways of rectifying the physical problems associated with continuous use of a computer. Following are a few health tips for computer users.
Good Posture Counts
Your mother always told you to sit up straight and not slouch. That is sound advice as far as using a computer goes. Keeping your shoulders straight, and aligning your hips, back, and head will help relieve strain and prevent painful cramps and muscle ache. Keeping your feet and legs straight and aligned with your body will also help.
Before sitting down at the computer, or after you’re finished for the day, it would be a good idea get some exercise. Taking a walk or going for a jog will not only help you get in shape and stay that way, but can relieve the stress that can build up throughout the workday. It really doesn’t matter whether you exercise before or after work, the exercise is what’s important. You’ll feel better, and your muscles won’t complain to you as much for making them remain in one position for so long while you’re at the computer.
During the course of your workday it would be a good idea to stretch your muscles once in a while. If you remain immobile it causes muscles to tense up, and stretching them relieves the buildup of stress that causes pain. Although the best way to do it is to get up and walk around for a few minutes, if you’re unable to do that you can simply stretch while sitting down.
Use a Comfortable Chair
Using good posture, exercising, and stretching are all good ideas, but since you’re sitting in front of a computer for so many hours, possibly the best thing you can do for yourself is to make sure your chair is comfortable. If your chair is oversized, or undersized, it will cause your muscles to rebel. Even if you’re in good physical condition you need to make sure your chair fits your body and is properly adjusted so you don’t sit too high, or too low.
Keep Peripherals Nearby
For those who work in an office environment a computer may be your most used tool, but it’s certainly not the only thing you use throughout the day. Printers, fax machines, and telephones are not used continuously, like a computer may be, but when the phone rings you don’t want to have to lean over and do contortions to answer it. By keeping the peripherals you use nearby, and within reach, you can not only save yourself a lot of time, but you won’t have to worry about pulling a muscle every time you reach for the phone.
Adjust Your Monitor
Looking at a monitor is an integral part of computer use, and eye strain can result from a using a monitor that isn’t properly adjusted. The monitor should be placed at a convenient height for you to use without having to tip your head too far up or down to read what’s on the screen. The brightness and resolution of the screen should also be adjusted to maximize your viewing throughout the day.
Proper Lighting Matters
In addition to the computer monitor being properly adjusted so it doesn’t hurt your eyes, you should make sure the environment around the computer is properly illuminated. If it’s too dark or too light, or the light shines on the computer at an improper angle you could develop eye strain very quickly.
No matter how many precautions you take to try and make your computer use less stressful and/or painful, one of the most important things you can do is to take a break once in a while. Get up. Walk around. Move some of the muscles you aren’t using while at your computer. If nothing else it will give your mind a rest and allow you to focus on something other than the computer for a few minutes.