With many people working at jobs in which they sit at a computer most of the day, there has been an increase in computer-related injuries, such as repetitive strain injury (RSI), back problems, and eye strain and discomfort. These injuries can be minimized or prevented if one is careful to follow certain guidelines.

1. Keep your feet flat on the floor.

2. Make sure your knees are slightly lower than your hips.

3. Position your computer so that your forehead is at the same level as the top of the screen.

4. Check to see if your elbows are approximately at right angles when you type at a keyboard.

5. Ensure optimal spine position with lumbar support. There are many lumbar support products available and often times these are needed even though a chair has some built in support.

6. Take breaks from computer tasks every 20-30 minutes.

7. Maintain wrists in neutral or slight flexion.

8. Obtain a chair with adjustable arm rests, seat pan depth, and backrest height.

It also helps to imagine a vertical line going from your ear, past your shoulder, to your hip. Attempt to be aware of your posture and to maintain this alignment while seated at your desk.

You can also seek physical therapy to address neck, back, or upper extremity pain that may have been caused by poor ergonomics. Physical therapists can help to strengthen weak muscles with bio-feedback or specific exercises for muscle groups often overlooked by a layman or personal trainer. A physical therapist can help to decrease tone in tight overactive muscles with various techniques such as muscle energy, myofacial release, active release, and strain-counter strain. Joint mobilizations and nerve glides performed by a physical therapist can help to reduce pain generated from these structures.

Good ergonomic design of workplaces and good behavioral practices, such as improving daily awareness of posture, restoring a balance in muscle tone, and seeking treatment from professionals can protect employees against many of the debilitating effects of computer-related injuries and from altering their lifestyle. For more information on healthy workplace practices, or to schedule an appointment at St. Lawrence’s Outpatient Health Center, call 609-896-2515.

St. Lawrence Rehab Center, 2381 Lawrenceville Road, Lawrenceville. 609-896-2515. www.slrc.org. See display ad page 15.

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