The Pain of Computer Use
BACK & COMPUTERSOpen or Close
Make your computer back-friendly, Sitting badly in front of a computer for hours on end, is storing up trouble.
• The body can tolerate being in one position, for only a short period of time, before you feel the need to adjust.
• Positioning monitor, keyboard & mouse correctly, can help to ensure good computer posture & the proper chair, is essential.
• Repetition – performing the same movement over and over again, can also lead to muscle fatigue or injury, especially if your body is badly positioned.
Here are some practical tips:
Adjust your chair & VDU/screen to find the most comfortable position, for your work. As a broad guide, your forearms should be approximately horizontal & your eyes the same height as the top of the VDU
• Make sure you have enough work space to take whatever documents, or other equipment you need
• Try different arrangements of keyboard, screen, mouse & documents to find the best arrangement for you. A document holder may help you avoid awkward neck & eye movements
• Arrange your desk & VDU to avoid glare, or bright reflections on the screen
This will be easiest if neither you nor the screen is directly facing windows or bright lights
Adjust curtains or blinds to prevent unwanted light
• Make sure there is space under your desk to move your legs freely. Ensure any obstacles are moved, such as boxes or equipment
• Avoid excess pressure from the edge of your seat, on the backs of your legs & knees. A footrest may be helpful, particularly for smaller users.
MOUSE PROBLEMSOpen or Close
Using a computer’s mouse & avoiding pain
• Position the mouse within easy reach, so it can be used with the wrist straight.
• Sit upright & close to the desk, so you don't have to work with your mouse arm stretched.
• Support your forearm on the desk, & don't grip the mouse too tightly.
• Rest your fingers lightly on the buttons & do not press them hard.
TYPICAL POSTUREOpen or ClosePLEASE CLICK IMAGE
Analysis of the typical posture in an office:
Too often people slouch in their chair which because of its price is generally quite comfortable, but in fact wrongly comfortable. When you slouch you:
• decrease your lumbar lordosis (decrease extension of low back) which feels good because you stretch some muscles but in fact you over stretch for 8 hrs a day your ligaments , capsules & discs of your low back.
• increase of thoracic kyphosis (flexion of mid back). This leads to a poor relaxed posture which compromises your ability to breath.
• In fact your diaphragm cannot contract properly because it sits on your abdominal organs. This obliges you to breathe with your upper chest & use the accessories muscles of respiration.
• Bring your head back, as the you might have a bit of wear & tear in his neck this neck extension is precipitating some neck pain & associated headaches.
• Only the wrists or first third of the forearm is resting on the desk. By doing so you need to carry the weight of your arms & forearms. Well known muscles for their tendency to give neck & shoulder pain !
• Tendency to use the mouse moving all the arm & shoulder. The shoulder is not made to do some precise movements but wide ones. if you try to do precise movement with your shoulder you need to contract all the muscles of the shoulder! Avoiding Mouse Syndrome.
Reading the screen
• Adjust the brightness & contrast controls on the screen to suit lighting conditions in the room.
• Make sure the screen surface is clean.
• In setting up software, choose options giving text that is large enough to read easily on your screen, when you are sitting in a normal, comfortable working position.
• Select colours that are easy on the eye (avoid red text on a blue background, or vice-versa).
• Individual characters on the screen should be sharply focused & should not flicker or move. If they do, the VDU may need servicing or adjustment.
BETTER POSTUREOpen or ClosePLEASE CLICK IMAGE
• Be close enough from the desk to have 2 inches between your stomach & the desk.
• Your feet should be flat on the floor with a nice 100 degree angle at your knees, as your leg slope down, (hips above knees).
• Add a foot rest if your legs require this.
• Rest your two forearms on the desk, your keyboard should be at least 25 to 30 cm away from the edge of the desk. Adjust the height of your chair to feel your shoulder relaxed & your arms/forearms resting comfortably on the desk.
• You should be pretty comfortable in this posture & should feel your shoulder much more relax than earlier. In fact you don't carry the weight of your arms anymore, but the desk does it for you.
• Position the screen at 90 degrees to any light source avoiding glare/reflections. Have regular eye checks & ensure, if you need glasses, that you select the appropriate lenses for VDU use.
• The mouse is situated at the same level than your keyboard. Have your mouse sensitive enough so that you can run through the screen only using your wrist.
• The screen should be standing at least 45cm away from the edge of the desk. I would recommend a 17 or 19 inches flat screen.
• It is useful to be ambidextrous with the mouse, so that either arm can be rested if doing a lot of mouse work.
• Telephone cradling the phone between you neck & shoulder causes severe muscle tension. If you regularly use the phone, consider a headset.
• Take mini breaks regularly - at least hourly. Use this time to move around, change posture & maybe do some of the exercises shown by David.
• Laptop Use All the above principles apply. If using a Laptop for extended periods, a height adjustable stand & separate keyboard/mouse is recommended.
EVIDENCEOpen or Close
Biomechanical problems of; computer, laptop, tablet, mobile phone use is clinically concerning.
Determining the internal tissue loads in weight-bearing soft tissues of human subjects, is difficult & the research is taking place, however the human experiment is very evident in clinical practice.
This is that poor posture & adaptations to technology increasingly potentate, spatial distributions of tissue deformations, mechanical strains & stresses.
Recent studies: Touch-screen tablet user configurations and case-supported tilt affect head and neck flexion angles Young et al.Gym Ball Use for sitting:
Trial the use of a gym ball to support an improved posture, whilst in the work place. This is to attempt to ameliorate episodes of insidious back pain.
One advantage in using balls is that they are safe, help to activate proprioception, balance, & equilibrium control.
I provide some research that may be of interest;
1, Janda V, Va'Vrova M. Sensory motor stimulation. In: Liebenson C, Rehabilitation of the Spine: A Practitioner's Manual. Baltimore: Williams and Willkins; 1996. pp. 319–328.
2, Merritt L. Exercise compliance and the gym ball: a case study. JCCA. 2001;45(4):221–224. "People spend an average of two to four hours a day with their heads tilted over reading and texting on their smartphones and devices. Cumulatively this is 700 to 1,400 hours a year of excess stresses seen about the cervical spine," Hansraj's study reads.
TIPSOpen or Close
• Make your computer back-friendly
• If you use a laptop use a separate keyboard & mouse
• Take care with your chair
• Keep moving regularly during the day
'he is committed to his patients and his goal is to address issues as quickly as possible'
David will explain to you what treatment you'll need, how to speed up your recovery & when you can return to your regular activities & sports.
He may prescribe special exercises together with treatment to increase your joint mobility & performance.
Together with stretching your muscle groups accordingly, strengthening weak muscles, to restore muscle balance.
‘I am now walking and living pain free for the first time in 3 years’
In regard to pain, David takes a thorough history with consultation, guiding his examination. This determines for any individual the quality, duration & origin of this condition, how it uniquely affects you & how best to provide treatment.