Computer Ergonomics – For Your Body’s Sake

Computer Ergonomics Explained…

computer ergonomicsIf you are like most of us computer users, when you sit down at your keyboard the first thing you do is lean back in your chair, slouch forward and put your arms at some bizarre angle to start your program. And if you are reading this article the odds are, you’re spending a lot of time at your computer in this or some other strange position. You probably don’t even think about how anti-productive this is to you not only while you are at the computer, but how it has far reaching negative effects on every aspect of your life. Let’s talk about how the body works and how this repetitive motion is counter-productive to what you are trying to achieve.

This is where computer ergonomics come into play.

Your brain sits up in your head (in most cases) and sends messages down your spine, out your nerves, to every one of the 80 trillion cells in your body. As long as the messages can flow uninterrupted from the brain to the body, every cell works at 100% of its capabilities. If there is any interruption of the messages, the body begins to malfunction. It will most likely work, but not at its full capacity.

The most common way to interrupt the flow of messages is by some mechanical interference, specifically a bone in the spine moving out of place and pinching a nerve. If we pinch a nerve the most noticeable condition to occur is pain. Many computer users, perhaps even you, have neck and back pain. Poor body positioning which twists the bones out of place and pinches the nerves most likely causes this. Bones can also be moved out of place by trauma, such as car accidents, sports injuries or even sleeping wrong.

Stress (which none of us ever have) can tense up muscles which in turn can pull a bone out of place and even the food we eat, such as caffeine, can cause muscles to tighten and pull bones out of place. However, 80% of the nerves in our body do not feel pain, yet if they are pinched can cause the body to malfunction by cutting off the messages from the brain to the body.

You don’t feel your heartbeat, but it is controlled by nerves. You don’t feel your lungs breathe, your intestines digest food, or your pancreas produce insulin, but they are all controlled by nerves. Many studies have shown that if you pinch a nerve to an organ that organ will malfunction. This means that how you sit at your computer can misalign your spine and cause far-reaching negative effects on all aspects of your life. Now let us discuss how to correct the problem and get your nervous system back “online”. (Sorry, I could not resist)

In computer ergonomics, we start with the monitor which should have the top of the screen level with your eyes when you are sitting straight up in your chair. Your head should be over your shoulders. The average human head weighs about 10 pounds, which is the size of a bowling ball. When it is directly over the shoulders, the neck muscles can easily balance it. If it is tilted forward or backward too far, muscles become over stretched and /or contracted causing pain and pulling bones out of place.

Your elbows should be at your side at a 90-110 degree angle and close to your body or resting on your chair arms. The mouse should be the same height as your keyboard and when moving the mouse your hand, wrist and arm should be in a straight line.

Computer Ergonomics and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome…

Your wrists should be on a wrist rest and avoid any excessive flexing of the wrists and fingers should extend straight out from the hands. Strike the keys gently to avoid unnecessary stress on the fingers. Improper wrist motions can cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which is pain in the palm side of your wrists. The bones in the wrist can misalign. There can be swelling in the wrist or the elbow and the shoulder or neck can be out of place, pinching nerves that go to the wrist. If you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, don’t automatically assume it is only a wrist condition. Many people take unnecessary drugs and have useless surgery because the no one ever looked beyond the wrist.

The chair you choose is also of vital importance. A good chair will have a low back (lumbar) support and when you sit upright your low back will fit snug into the support. It should have an adjustable back, arms and seat to allow for different heights and tilts of different desks. Five legs on the bottom offer more stability than four and your knees should be level with your hips. If your knees are too low, use a footrest to raise your knees. The chair must be directly in front of the monitor to avoid twisting which will strain muscles and ligaments, pull bones out of place and pinch nerves.

Now we have achieved computer ergonomics, i.e. the ideal keyboard state of being. But how many of us are going to do this every time?

In a perfect world we would all have perfect posture, eat a healthy diet and have no stress. If you do wander off the straight and narrow, find yourself a good chiropractor and get those misalignments realigned and be more careful in the future. How long your problem has been there and your overall state of health will determine how long it will take to get the problem fixed. Ask your friends if they can recommend a chiropractor that they have used and received good results with or call your state Chiropractic Association for a referral near you.

You will be amazed how much more productive you and your co-workers will be when you incorporate computer ergonomics and do things the way they should be done by taking good care of your mainframe. (I just had to do it one more time).