Proper techniques for computer use, lifting,
sitting at one's desk, etc., are becoming increasingly important as the
use of computers — for business as well as personal life —
grows, and experts are finding more injuries in employees with
so-called "desk jobs."
"We used to believe that occupations like
construction caused most on-the-job injuries," said Dr. Michael Pedigo,
president of the American Chiropractic Association. "However, someone
who works at a computer is putting a lot of stress on their wrists,
shoulders, neck and spine, and this can cause some really painful
Repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel
syndrome are growing in prevalence as a result of the trend toward
increased computer usage.
"Today, it's not just the administrative assistant
who uses a computer," Pedigo added. "Most corporate executives spend
their work day in front of a computer too. When the work day ends, many
people go home and 'surf the net' for hours on end on their own PCs."
In addition to carpal tunnel syndrome and other
cumulative trauma disorders, problems such as postural and spinal
stress and tendinitis are becoming more common.
To reduce the possibility of one of these injuries
occurring, you can heed the following suggestions, courtesy of the
American Chiropractic Association:
your chair fits correctly. There should be 2 inches between the front
edge of the seat and the back of your knees. Ideally, the chair should
tilt back so you can rest while you're reading what's on the screen.
your feet flat on the floor and your knees at a 90-degree angle. If you
can't sit comfortably that way, use an angled foot rest.
computer so that the center of the screen is at eye level, and make
sure you have adequate lighting. Also, make sure there is no glare
— use an antiglare screen if necessary.
wrists in a neutral position, not angled up or down, while you type.
Some people find a modified keyboard more comfortable than a standard
model. Keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle as you type.
periodic stretch breaks. Clench your hands in a fist and move your
hands like this: 10 circles in, then 10 circles out. Put your hands in
a praying position and squeeze for 10 seconds, then "pray" with the
backs of your hands together, fingers pointed downward, for 10 seconds.
Spread your fingers apart and then close them one by one.
Another type of stretch you can incorporate into
your routine is what the American Chiropractic Association refers to as
the "hug your best friend" stretch. Stand and wrap your arms around
your body, and turn as far as you can to the left, then the right.
Address: American Chiropractic Association, 1701 Clarendon Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209; (800) 986-4636.
Copyright 1999 Health Resources Publishing