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Ergonomics and Posture for Computer Users

General


Are you taking care of your health? We’re sure you are – morning exercises, running, gym, cycling – you name it! And how about performance at work? Most probably as well. We all know that today it is very important not to get lost amongst all these new technologies, equipment, gadgets, software and stay in good shape and high spirits. But… It all can go very wrong if your work space, as a computer user, or place where you beat up the records as an enthusiast gamer, is not organized for proper posture and comfort. Especially, with all the time we spend behind our custom computers, both at work and at home. As a consequences – back and neck pain, visual deterioration, wrist disorder and some other quite unpleasant health conditions. So, what can we do about it? Is there a way to avoid all this?

What is ergonomics and how does it work?

Ergonomics in IT is the way of designing or arranging workplaces, equipment and software in order to improve people’s interaction with them. Ergonomics aims to reach several objectives:

  • improve workspaces and environments to minimize the risk of injury, harm or health condition deterioration.
  • make sure that as technologies change, so too does the tools we use for work, rest and play must be designed for our body’s requirements.
  • create safe, comfortable and productive workspaces by bringing human abilities and limitations into the design of a workspace, including the individual’s body size, strength, skill, speed, sensory abilities (vision, hearing), and even attitudes.

Ergonomics is relatively new science that was invented back in to 1949, but relies on research carried out in many other older, established scientific areas, such as engineering, physiology and psychology. It uses data of such disciplines as biomechanics – muscles, levers, forces, strength, anthropometry – body sizes, shapes and variations, environmental physics – noise, light, heat, cold, radiation, etc.

How to ensure comfort during extended gaming and computer use

Good posture

Following the most important general recommendations will help you to identify whether you really need to change something while sitting behind your computer:

  • Table height should slightly lower than elbow position
  • Wrists are in neutral and straight position
  • Head is upright and over your shoulders
  • Eyes are looking a bit downward and not bending from the neck
  • Backrest of the chair should support the natural curve of the lower back
  • Elbows are bent at 900 and forearms should be in horizontal positions
  • Shoulders should be relaxed and not raised
  • Thighs in horizontal position with a 900 or 1100 angle at the hip
  • Feet are flat on the floor or supported by a footrest.

The moral here – a good armchair is essential! Don’t save on buying a good one – ergonomic armchairs are designed to consider human body anatomy specifics and ensure comfortable posture.

Monitor

As mentioned head should be upright and over your shoulders, so position your monitor in the way to achieve this – head shouldn’t be bended up or down and straight line from your eyes should got to the upper part of the screen. Chose the monitor with adjustable height and screen angle.

Keyboard

Keyboard should not be laying on the thighs. If your desk surface is higher than your elbow – a retractable keyboard stand underneath would be preferable. It will make sure your wrists and elbow are in neutral and relaxed position.

Mouse

When you sit your forearms should be relaxed and in natural position. The area where you could move your arms without having your forearms raised or downed – is a neutral reach zone. That is where mouse should be positioned – ideally closer to the keyboard. Preferably to have a mouse with symmetrical shape, which would be feeling comfortable in the hand.

Lighting

Room lighting should not be neither too bright nor too dim. In real life, for different tasks and people lighting requirement (or demand) lighting may vary. For example, while reading the documents, it requires 4-5 times more light than when watching the images. So, adjust the light strength and tint according to your need and, at the same time, make sure you’re not having any discomfort. Try to avoid any bright opposite lighting that aimed straight into your eyes as well as any flares on the screen coming from the back.

General positioning in a work or game

Try to organize your environment in the way that you don’t have to reach your hands far away to get something from the shelf, for example. In certain circumstances, it might lead to sprain or contortion. Put those things that you need to use on a constant basis closer, so you can reach them even without taking off your chair.

If you will organize your work or game space and equipment in a right, ergonomic way, it will help you to improve your performance a great deal. And certainly, save you from a lot of troubles with your health right now and in the future.

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I'm a marketing professional who loves to get down to the geeky details. When I'm not studying the latest components or industry news, I can be found biking, hiking or gaming.

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