We are glued to our mobile and computer devices an average of 6.5 hours each day, but how often do you think about how to make these experiences more ergonomic? Comfort is key to reducing injury during usage over time.
When I started using my laptop, I navigated my screen with the trackpad 24/7 until a tingling feeling in my right hand would not leave me alone. A doctor diagnosed me with neck muscle cramps with pain radiating to my hands. The result: physical therapy for 6 weeks to work on my ergonomic posture and neck muscles. Ever since then, I refuse to work on my trackpad.
What is the best way to work on your computer? And what are some easy and overlooked tips to improve how you work with your computer?
Filter out blue light of your screen
We are wired to get sleepy once the sun sets down. When it gets dark, our body produces melatonin. When melatonin levels in the blood rise, you begin to feel less alert and sleep becomes inviting.
How is this related to the computer screen? It transmits a lot of blue light. While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light does so more powerfully. Blue wavelengths are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times and mood but are disruptive at night.
Blocking out the blue light from your computer screen is possible by wearing blue-light-blocking glasses (so you can be safe AND look super cool), or you can download F.lux, a free app that will automatically block out the blue light from your computer screen when the sun goes down. It might take time to get used to staring at a reddish screen, but once you’re used to it, you wouldn’t want it any other way.
Gain muscles while working on your computer
Yoga ball, exercise ball, gym ball: They come by many names. But there could be a positive thing about these bouncy, colorful balls. If you have ever wondered how you can make sitting more entertaining while also strengthening your muscles, take a seat. We’d love to tell you more!
When you sit on an exercise ball, your body has to stay balanced by responding to the instability of the ball, and you’ll build core strength because of it. It’s important to always have your feet on the ground and not under the ball because that defeats the purpose of the ball and harms your posture.
Be aware that you shouldn’t use a ball for more than 8 hours straight and shouldn’t use one if you have very weak core muscles.
Use a laptop stand
Using a laptop for a longer period of time without a separate keyboard and mouse is a recipe for disaster for your neck. If the keyboard is in an optimal position for the user, the screen isn’t and if the screen is optimal the keyboard. In other words, if you want to spare your neck while working on a laptop, your screen needs to be on eye level. The top of the screen needs to be in a straight line with your eyes. In order to have that set-up, you need to place your laptop higher than just on the table.
Laptop stands provide the right height for your screen so you won’t look down to your screen and spare your neck some serious issues.
Focus on how you carry your laptop
How you carry your laptop around is often times forgotten, even though it can cause back issues. Traditional one-shoulder laptop bags put the weight of your computer on one shoulder instead of diving it evenly over your shoulders. Try to make sure that your backpack doesn’t weigh more than 10% of your body weight to minimize back pain. As the weight of your backpack increase, there is a proportional increase in compression and asymmetry.
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