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7 Quick Tips To Prevent Wrist Repetitive Stress Injuries

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, carpal tunnel syndrome results in the highest number of days lost among all work related injuries. Almost half of the carpal tunnel cases result in 31 days or more of work loss.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and other repetitive stress related injuries affect hundreds of thousands of American workers each year, and cost the American economy billions of dollars. If you work extensively with computers, or engage with other machines or activities that require extensive use of your hands, fingers, arms and wrists you could be at risk for developing just such an injury.

In order to protect yourself from this possibility, you can use the following quick tips to protect yourself from wrist injury.

1. Stay Healthy

By maintaining a healthy body weight and a good cardiovascular system you decrease your chances of experiencing an injury. An unhealthy body causes stress to all of your physical systems and limbs. If you add to that stress any additional environmental stress, you are more likely to develop a problem.

2. Stay Strong

By regularly strengthening the muscles in your hands, wrists, fingers and arms you make yourself less likely to suffer a repetitive stress injury. It is harder to overuse any part of your arm if it is used to being worked hard and often. Simple stretching exercises can help you increase your arm muscles and flexibility.

3. Don’t Break the Wrist

You should become familiar with the proper positioning of your forearm and wrist in all aspects of The Ergonomics Equation. By holding your wrist in a neutral position with your arm straight, your palm at a 30-45 degree angle while typing and your fingers curled.

4. Take Regular Breaks

Another important part of The Ergonomics Equation is making time for important restorative rest periods. Taking the time to stretch your muscles provides your body a much needed break and increases the blood flow throughout your limbs. You should break for at least ten minutes following every hour of continuous work.

5. Maintain Proper Distance

When you are working with your hands, typing on a keyboard for instance, you should keep them a comfortable distance from your body—not too far and not too close. Holding your arms mid-distance from your body allows your arms, shoulders and core to help share the burden placed on your wrists. Using high quality keyboard trays can help you accomplish this type of optimal working distance.

6. Don’t Pivot At The Extremes

While it may be true that your arms can pivot to wide angles, this does not mean that you should exert your muscles and joints to extremes. While working you should avoid flexing your joints to the edges of your range of motion. Doing so could lead to muscle extensions and muscle pulls.

7. Avoid Flexing Your Wrist Upwards

The hand is designed and structured to grip. For this reason, most of our natural muscle control and joint range is aimed in a downward flex. Flexing upward can significantly strain the tendons and nerves in the hand. You should try and always keep you palms, fingers and wrist in a neutral position, somewhere between flat and grip orientation.

When typing and clicking your computer mouse you should avoid as many upstrokes as possible. Using the scroll wheel that is standard on most computer mice to cruise through documents requires a nearly continual upward motion and flex, and should be avoided.

14 Quick Tips To Minimize Eye Strain

If you are reading this article, odds are that you are reading it on a computer screen. And if you spend an extensive amount of time interacting with a computer screen, odds are that you are at an increased risk of developing eye strain.

The Mayo Clinic health organization defines eye strain is this manner:

“Eye strain occurs when your eyes get tired from intense use, such as driving a car for extended periods of time, reading or working at a computer. Although you may not be able to change the nature of your job, or all the factors that can cause eye strain, you can take steps to reduce eye strain.”

The following tips outline some of the steps you can take to reduce the eye strain you might experience when sitting at a computer in your home or workspace.

Tips to reduce eye strain sitting at computer

  1. Position screen so light doesn’t bounce off and create a glare. You can also put an antiglare shield on the screen.
  2. Turn up your computer monitor’s contrast to minimize strain on your eyes.
  3. Light your work area well. Use full spectrum bulbs. They duplicate natural sunlight and are easier on the eyes.
  4. Practice “Task Lighting.” This entails using lighting appropriate to the task you are completing. The following strategies can be adopted for different tasks: Keep brightest lights over to the side if possible. Turn off overhead lighting. Close blinds so that sunlight doesn’t glare on your screen.
  5. Don’t forget to blink. Blinking keeps eyes moistened. Work to develop the good habit of blinking often.
  6. Position your monitor 18 to 30 inches from your eyes.
  7. Keep screen clean and properly focused.
  8. Take frequent “eye breaks”. Eye breaks are an important part of the restorative component of the Ergonomics Equation. Every 15 minutes look away from your computer screen and focus your eyes on something more distant for a minute or two.
  9. Rest your eyes by covering them with your palms. Keep them in complete darkness for a minute.
  10. Keep frequently used paper documents in a holder that attaches to the monitor. This keeps your eyes from having to move up and down.
  11. Determine if your workflow might benefit from multiple monitor use.
  12. Adjust your glasses or contacts for the computer. Sometimes your prescription may not be suitable for computer work.
  13. Keep your keyboard positioned directly in front of monitor.
  14. Get up and move around at least every two hours. It gives your eyes a break, as well as the rest of your body. You can incorporate simple stretch programs into your movements.

15 Quick Tips For A Healthier Spine

Preventing back injuries is a major challenge—at home or in the workplace. In fact, OSHA reports that back injuries are the nation’s number one cause of workplace related injuries, accounting for one or every five reported work related afflictions.

Are you at risk to join the ranks of those with aching backs? There are ways that you can improve your productivity and comfort, while reducing your risk of developing a back injury. Consider the following quick tips for maintaining a healthier spine, and look for ways to apply them to your life at home and work today:

  1. Always stretch before and after exercise or other strenuous physical activity.
  2. Don’t slouch when standing or sitting.
  3. When standing keep your weight balanced on your feet, your back supports weight most easily when curvature is reduced.
  4. At home or work make sure that your work surface is at a comfortable height for you.
  5. Sit in a chair with good lumbar support and proper position and height for the task. Keep your shoulders back.
  6. Switch sitting positions often and periodically walk around the office or gently stretch muscles to relieve tension.
  7. A pillow or rolled-up towel placed behind the small of your back can provide some lumbar support.
  8. If you must sit for a long period of time, rest your feet on a low stool or a stack of books.
  9. Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.
  10. Sleep on superior sleep products that support appropriate sleep posture, like an adjustable bed.
  11. If you cannot sleep on an adjustable bed, sleep on your side to reduce any curve in your spine. Always sleep on a firm surface.
  12. Ask for help when transferring an ill or injured family member from a reclining to a sitting position or when moving the patient from a chair to a bed.
  13. Don’t try to lift objects too heavy for you. Lift with your knees, pull in your stomach muscles, and keep your head down and in line with your straight back. Keep the object close to your body. Do not twist when lifting.
  14. Maintain proper nutrition and diet to reduce and prevent excessive weight, especially weight around the waistline that taxes lower back muscles. A diet with sufficient daily intake of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D helps to promote new bone growth.
  15. If you smoke, quit. Smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine and causes the spinal discs to degenerate.

Quick Ergonomics Tips For Computer Users

In 2008 there were more than 1 billion personal computers in use worldwide. And experts estimate that the number will surpass 2 billion by the year 2014. Not only is our society progressively using more computers each year, we are also progressively spending more and more time at our computers.

While this may be the current trend, the simple fact of the matter is that our bodies have simply not been designed or evolved to sit for extensive periods of time, especially in the unnatural positions that computing forces on users.

There are, however, some easy ergonomic principles you can implement in your routine in order to make your computing at home and work safer, more comfortable and more efficient.

The following tips are adapted from the University of Pittsburgh Environmental Health and Safety organization, and break computer use down into the following categories: Posture, Technique and Environment.

Posture

  • Maintain good posture when working at your keyboard. Utilize a chair with back support.
  • Keep your feet supported on the floor or on a footrest when you work to reduce pressure on your lower back
  • Avoid twisting or bending your body’s core or your neck. Frequently used items should be positioned directly in front of you.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed with your elbows close to your sides.
  • Avoid resting your elbows on the hard surface or edge of your table. Pads can be used to protect your elbows if necessary.
  • Elbows should be positioned at 100 to 110 degrees when working in order to keep a neutral position at the keyboard. This could require you to tilt your keyboard when working in upright positions.
  • Your wrists should be in a neutral or straight position when typing. Wrist rests can help you maintain a neutral position. Float your arms above the keyboard and wrist rest when keying. Avoid planting your wrists on the table or wrist rest. This can result in bending the wrists either up and down or side to side, causing injury.
  • Take breaks. These breaks can be brief and should include stretches for optimal results. If possible, take a one or two-minute break every 15 to 20 minutes, or a five-minute break every hour. Every few hours, get up, move around, and do an alternative activity.

Technique

  • If your job requires you to do a lot of typing you can reduce keystrokes with the use of macros or software programs allowing “sticky keys.” Use scroll locks and keystroke combinations to reduce pointing-device movements.
  • Alternate tasks to make changes in your working position to avoid making the same movements for prolonged periods of time.
  • Keep your fingers and knuckles relaxed when working at the keyboard.
  • Never hold a pen or pencil in your hand when keying.
  • Avoid hitting the keyboard with excessive force. Studies have shown that the average user hits the keyboard with four times the required force when keying.
  • Rest your eyes by refocusing on distant objects intermittently when working.

Environment

  • Avoid excessive reaching across your workspace. Your keyboard, mouse, files, telephone and other frequently used items should be within easy reach.
  • Use a keyboard tray to properly position your keyboard and mouse.
  • When writing at the computer, avoid excessive reaching over the keyboard or work materials.
  • Position the monitor so that the viewed part of the screen allows you to keep your neck in a neutral or straight position. The monitor should be centered directly in front of you. The top of the computer screen should be slightly below the top of your head, so that you are looking at it with a slightly downward gaze. Determine if you could benefit from multiple monitor use.
  • Position your monitor to eliminate excessive glare or reflections from windows and lighting.
  • Customize your computer by using your software. The screen font, contrast, pointer size, speed, and color can all be adjusted to maximize your comfort and efficiency.

10 Ergonomic Tips For Your Workstation

You do not have to wait for your employer to implement an office-wide ergonomics program to begin improving the level of comfort, efficiency and productivity you experience while at your workstation. Adopting a few easy ergonomic tips can improve your workplace satisfaction, while minimizing your risk of developing a repetitive stress injury.

Ergonomic tips that you can begin using right now:

1 – Move your office task chair up and down a few inches several times throughout the day to give your body a different working position.

2 – Use the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes look away from your computer screen at a spot approximately 20 feet away for 20 seconds. For more tips on ways to avoid eye strain, refer to the “Quick Tips to Avoid Eye Strain” article.

3 – Lean back in your chair and let it support your back. If you are leaning forward to see your computer screen you are not using proper ergonomic positioning.

4- Implement the Ergonomics Equation into the time you spend sitting at a computer.

5 – Keep your elbows at 90 degree angles and make sure your wrists are not tilted up when typing. For proper positioning, keep them at a slight negative tilt or neutral position.

6 – When using your mouse make controlled mouse movements using your elbow as the pivot point and keep your wrist straight and neutral.

7 – Good room lighting is important to help prevent eye strain. Adjust your monitor to avoid reflections or glares on the screen surface.

7 – If your work requires you to refer to a print document while computing your should use a document holder. Place it at about the same height and distance as the monitor screen. This will mean little head movement, or need for your eyes to re-focus when you look from the document to the screen.

8 – Use task lights to reduce dilation of eyes between tasks, which will reduce eyestrain. Task lighting can reduce CVS (computer vision syndrome) symptoms including eyestrain, headaches, and fatigue.

9 – Consider a foot rest. A footrest may not seem like a key ergonomic accessory, but incorporating a footrest does provide some great ergonomic benefits. It promotes movement and it also supports the legs, which can relieve pressure from the lower back, or help to support the legs for a shorter user.

10 – Don’t wait. If you are uncomfortable while working, address it now by assessing your working position and/or requesting proper ergonomic office furniture and accessories, before it turns into a major health issue down the road.

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