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Close work with a computer screen is often the root of postural problems such as fatigue, stiffness, cramp and pain in certain muscles and tendons. The areas of the body which are mainly affected are the neck, the shoulders, the small of the back, the wrist and the hand. The main factors which contribute to musculo-skeletal pains are: the incorrect posture adopted by many computer users, linked with the non-ergonomic arrangement of the work area, and the problems associated with the keyboard.

The main reason for the onset of most pains is that many computer workers adopt one of the following incorrect positions: neck leaning forward, back bent, shoulders lifted, arms outstretched, and forearms and hands lifted. However, a simple adjustment of your chair and desk will allow for more comfort in the work space:

- the monitor should be at eye level;

- things should be horizontal, feet flat on the floor or on a foot rest;

- the angle between the hand and the forearm should never be less than 90 degrees, and the hand should be aligned with the forearm.

The back should be straight in order to ease the tension of the shoulders and the strain on the neck muscles. Adjust the back of your chair or use a cushion to enhance an upright position. However, no ideal position may be kept for a long time: maintaining the same position for a prolonged period leads to immobility of the limbs and, since this is in effect a muscular strain, it will make you tired. So stand up every hour and take a break. Allow your body to move, walk a few steps regularly. Periodically adjust the focus of your eyes, the range of your thoughts, and then go back to computing. You will be more refreshed and more efficient.


Keyboards and document holders

Manipulation of wrists and hands on a keyboard can also be one of the main reasons for aches in the work place. Keeping the wrist at an uncomfortable angle can cause harm or provoke pain. If possible, adjust the keyboard upwards or downwards in order to make your typing more comfortable. Try not to use a keyboard which is too deep, and experiment with a wrist bar. Less forceful typing will reduce muscular tension. So-called ergonomic keyboards may reduce the strain on wrists, as these keyboards are specially adapted to the natural position of the hand and wrist.

Limit movements of the head and eyes by keeping documents closer to the screen; try using a document holder. Be wary of reflections which may force you to adopt a less comfortable position in order to read the screen.


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