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Home>Discover VersaTables> Ergonomics > The Equation > Ergonomic Equation Part Three: Rest & Restorative Periods

Ergonomic Equation Part Three: Rest & Restorative Periods

Banner Ergonomics Rest

As discussed in Part Two of The Ergonomics Equation, our bodies are not intended for long periods of static or minimal movement. While positioning your body in neutral placements and utilizing voluntary movements helps combat the pitfalls of a sedentary lifestyle  and working method, it is crucial that you also provide your body with needed break time when working at the computer.

The Importance of Rest & Restorative Periods

To minimize the possibility of developing repetitive work injuries, muscle and eye strain it is important to take timely rests during extended periods of computer work. When these rest techniques become an established part of your work routine you will not only see an improvement in the levels of comfort you experience at your computer station, but you will also see an increase in productivity and personal health.

To effectively utilize resting periods while computing our bodies require:

  • Mini breaks of two or three minutes each for every half hour of work at the computer.
  • A 15 minute break for every two hours of work at the computer.

How should you spend these breaks? SpineUniverse.com specifies four break strategies:

Eye Breaks

Looking at a computer screen can be almost hypnotic. In fact, doing so for hours physically changes how the eyes work. In this situation, your eyes blink less often and widen, exposing more of your eye’s surface to open air. Every 15 minutes you should briefly look away from the screen for a minute or two and instead focus your eyes on something more distant, preferably 20 feet or more away. Doing this helps the muscles in your eyes to relax. You should also blink your eyes rapidly for a few seconds, refreshing your tear film and cleansing the dust from your eye’s surface.


Think for a moment about the way you type. Most typing is done in micro-bursts of activity, rather than continuously. You pause when typing to read or consult other material, to answer the phone and for any other number of reasons. Between your typing bursts make a conscious effort to rest your hands in a neutral position, this helps avoid wrist injuries  and other negative impacts to the small muscles in the hands. If you can, during these micro breaks, lasting two or three minutes, you should stand, stretch and move around. Incorporating standing micro breaks into your work routine helps build a sit and stand work habit.

Rest Breaks

Every 30 to 60 minutes you should take a slightly longer micro-break. These breaks are ideal for standing up to get a drink of water or coffee, or use the restroom. By standing up and moving around you engage muscles different from those you have been using at your workstation. This allows your other muscles to rest and will make you feel less tired when returning to your computer.

Exercise Breaks

Every two hours you should take a 15 minute exercise break. During this time there are many simple stretches and gentle exercises you can do to help relieve built-up muscle tension and fatigue. You can read more about these exercises by visiting VersaTables’ other on-line resources: Simple WorkStation Stretches  and The Two Minute Stretch Program.

Other Simple Tips

There are some other simple steps you can take to promote rest and revitalization throughout your computing period. Such simple solutions do not take much time at all to implement, but will greatly improve your efficiency and comfort when working at your computer.

Set A Timer

It is easy to lose track of time when working at a computer, often you might not realize how long it has been since you took a micro break, looked away from the screen or did some gentle stretches. It is important to create a personal system to remind you about your required break intervals. This system might be as simple as setting a timer on your watch or blackberry; it can be more sophisticated with the use of computer software designed specifically to remind you of restive techniques and periods.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration contributes to muscle fatigue and tension. Remember that most health professionals, including the Mayo Clinic, recommend all adults drink eight to nine cups of water a day.

Move When You Can

Work to find creative and innovative ways to incorporate more movement into your work routine. This should not be done at the cost of productivity or efficiency, but instead done to support these goals.

By effectively incorporating consistent and efficient rest periods into your computing habits you will be able to experience more comfort and satisfaction in your working period. Your levels of productivity will increase, while your chances of developing a repetitive use injury will decrease. However, the largest challenge to improving your computing time with The Ergonomics Equation comes in simply considering each part of this important formula as a whole and working to consciously retrain your body and mind to engage in these practices.

Posted in The Equation
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