If you’re spending too much time on the computer

I’ve been spending far too much time on the PC over the last two years. The result – a sore neck, shoulders, wrist and occasional lower back problems. The ideal thing is to take regular breaks, but if you’re addicted, you don’t have much of a choice. The following are guidelines that I’ve created for myself based on my experience, discussions with friends, and online research.

You might find them useful, but follow these at your risk entirely, preferably in consultation with a doctor/physician. I’m using these guidelines at my own risk.

1. Take frequent breaks, at least every 15 minutes. www.workrave.com is a free software for reminders and exercise. You’ll have to reset the reminder time in workrave from 3 minutes to 15 minutes (or whatever you want). Don’t forget to disable the “Skip” option (which is very tempting).

2. The Chair
: is probably the most important element of your office setup – get a cheap table, but get an adjustable chair even if expensive. The features of the chair that I bought (photo attached)

* Back can be raised, so great middle back support
* The arms of the chair can be raised – this was critical for me since my shoulders have been in great pain. My arms used to be suspended while typing, which puts pressure on the shoulder joint and neck
* Neck support – my neck leans forward while typing, so cervical spondolysis can become an issue
* Height of the seat is adjustable, so my legs are bent at 90 degrees or more. less than 90 degrees is not recommended

What’s not there in this chair, but is available in other models:

* Lower back not adjustable
* The seat base cannot be moved forward
* The arms cannot be rotated or pushed forward

Keep in mind:

* No such thing as a perfect chair (in this case, the neck support isn’t perfect, so I place a cushion
* You need a chair with a straight back. So chairs you sink into are not recommended, neither are chairs that arch your back backwards.

3. The Table:

* The monitor screen needs to be placed at eye level, else one tends to lean forward while typing. This can cause back and neck problems. I’ve raised the height of my monitor. Ideally, don’t use laptops.
* Elbows need support, and should ideally be at 90 degrees. I’ve had the height of my keyboard drawer/rest and mouse drawer/rest on my table adjusted accordingly, and the chair has adjustable sides

4. Mouse: your wrist should not be cocked up while using the mouse, so keep some kind of a rest under the wrist. Also, the slimmer the mouse, the less your wrist is cocked up.

5. Laptop?

* Preferably not. Usually, the keyboards are smaller, and touch pads need you to sustain pressure on them for using. Also, since either the keyboard will be raised or the monitor will not be at eye level, somethings bound to give in the long term
* Solution: when at home, connect laptop to an external monitor, and use a USB keyboard and a USB mouse. These are not very expensive, and very very useful

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