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Common Computer Workstation Mistakes and Solutions for Pain Relief

Do you spend long hours at your computer? If you are experiencing pain in your upper limbs (hand, wrist, neck, back or shoulder) check out your computer workstation design. Following are four computer workstation design challenges and solutions, whether at home or from an office environment.

Monitor Positioned Incorrect With Respect to Overhead Light and Window:

If the computer user is facing the window (or if the outside light is shining directly on the monitor) office glare may be a factor. If long fluorescent light bulbs overhead are perpendicular to the direction you are facing it can reflect in your eyes. The eyes constantly refocus throughout the day and the added glare from these two light sources can increase the risk of eyestrain.

Solution: If you have long fluorescent light bulbs overhead try to face in the same direction as the length of the bulbs so the light will reflect off the side of your body instead of in your eyes. Place your monitor perpendicular to the window so the outside light will reflect off the side of your body. Due to the design of your office or space, you may not be able to place your monitor correctly for each of these lighting sources. You may try closing or facing the blinds upwards to reduce the outside light.

Desk Is Too Narrow for Monitor and Keyboard

If the desk is too narrow the monitor will be too close to the eyes in most instances. The uncomfortable feeling in the eyes will be immediately obvious and this will cause the computer user to move back to view the monitor comfortably. This will cause a reach to the keyboard and mouse with a great potential of creating discomfort in the shoulders.

Solution: The simple solution is to replace your large monitor with a flat panel. You will love it. Flat panels have really come down in price. Or purchase a desk that is deep enough to hold the monitor and keyboard AND allow you to work close to the keyboard without reaching and a comfortable distance from the monitor. The flat panel is probably the most economical and will create more peaceful aesthetics.

Keyboard and Mouse Too High Or Low:

This can create improper typing and mousing posture – either raising the shoulders creating tensed muscles or tilting neck down and creating bent wrists. Usually the keyboard is too high due to non-adjustable desks at standard manufacturing heights of 29″.

Solution: Raise or lower the work surface so that the shoulders are in a relaxed position. This can be done with an articulating arm/tray or an adjustable height desk. When the elbows are bent they should be slightly higher than the top of the keys on your keyboard. Keep wrists straight when typing and do not rest on pads while typing.

Mouse at a Different Level than Keyboard:

This can create an awkward reach to the mouse. The arms should be close to the body when mousing with the elbows bent 90 – 120 degrees. Do not straighten your arm when mousing because it can cause fatigue and discomfort to the shoulder blade area.

Solution: Place the mouse directly next to the keyboard preferably with no break between the keyboard and mouse. Be sure that your shoulders are in a relaxed position.

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