21. Are you at that keyboard
again? Well, sit up!
By Mark Alberstat
SITTING PRETTY IS more than a casual phrase these days as computer users
and game players stoop, bend and contort themselves for hours every day in
front of their PCs.
Poor posture and the general ergonomics of your home or office workspace
can create serious and long-term injuries.
In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
estimates that 100 million U.S. citizens suffer from RSI (repetitive
stress injuries). RSI has also become the number one job-related injury in
the past decade.
The sad fact behind these and other similar statistics is that most of
these injuries could have been prevented with a little thought and
Any constant and repetitive motion that damages muscles, bones, nerves or
soft tissue can be termed a repetitive stress injury. For computer users,
the injuries usually occur in the hands, wrist, neck and/or shoulder.
RSI includes the famous, and all too common, carpal tunnel syndrome, which
affects the sensation in the thumb, index and middle fingers.
The following are some of the common symptoms of computer-related RSI:
- sore neck/back
- recurring headaches
- weakened grip
- pain, numbness or stiffness in the wrists, fingers or hands
One of the best ways you can avoid suffering any of these symptoms is to
simply take a break of five to 10 minutes during every hour you are at the
computer. Not all employers will allow you to get up and walk around for
that time but a short break away from the posture of your work station can
help your long-term health.
Correct posture at your workstation is another easy way to help your
longer-term health. This sitting posture includes the correct height for
the keyboard, mouse and monitor. Many purpose-built computer desks have
slide-out shelves for your keyboard and mouse and are at a good height for
most people. Adjustable chairs also aid in giving you the correct
position for these desks.
Some helpful Web sites are:
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Net, a community-owned Internet provider. If you have a question about
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a column, we'll send you a free mousepad.
Originally published 9 November 2003