Most of us work 8-10 hours a day, sitting in front of the computer all day long. We focus our eyes on text/images/videos on the screen, type as fast as we could without breaks or moving our hand to use the mouse for clicks left and right. Programmers may use more keyboard (with multiple keys pressed at the same time) than a mouse. Unknowingly we are repeating the same movements over and over again and this cause stress & fatigue in our muscles, and especially more when the posture is not correct.
But have you wondered what can be long-term effects of this? Have you heard of Carpel Tunnel, Nerve Pain, not able to work for more than few minutes, surgery etc. believe me its scary, and whoever experiences it only knows it. So the million dollar question is what to do avoid it? Believe me, there is no magic pill except good habits to avoid this situation and be productive all your life. Also, keep in mind some solutions work for some and some for other. Here are some tips grouped in the following categories.
- Set up your workstation with you in mind and not the other way around. Some people work on the computer standing too.
- Be aware of the key risk factors for potential discomfort and injury. Don't panic and assume yet react to the first sign of RSI i.e. you being not comfortable while working.
- Invest in buying Ergonomic accessories like lumbar back support chair with other adjustable feature, split keyboard etc. for your workspace. Keep in mind all of these don't work or work for everyone to try and buy. These may seem costly at first but are worth it long run.
- Take breaks - stand up, walk around and return to your workspace refreshed.
- Incorporate stretches and exercises (even few minutes help) into your daily work routine. Use software tool like Workrave, Ergocizer etc. to prompt you.
- Take a long break for few days, weeks etc. if it really worse, focus on other small things in life that make you happy, clear your head and get slowly get back with the good computing habits.
- Drink a LOT of (mineral) water throughout the day. It's very good for your circulation, & it forces you to take a frequent break (to the toilet).
- Avoid placing your hand/palms/wrist on the keyboard or chair armrest or keep them for shorter periods to get rest as they cause stress.
- Sit upright with your eyes at 90 to the computer screen, your back straight and firm, your hands level with your keyboard, your legs apart and your feet flat on the ground.
- Make sure your wrist is not bent while typing, this introduces pressure causing stress.
- For laptop users avoid working in bed, avoid touchpad or use a mouse instead (wireless would be clean), use a keyboard instead of keypad where ever possible.
- If working from bed use portable laptop table to place on the laptop and adjust the screen inclination to match your posture.
- Minimize the use of mouse and switch between left-hand mouse and right-hand mouse. Buy trackball, vertical mouse etc. to avoid pressure.
- Don't try to type fast in one stretch, introduce very small pauses. Buy good quality keyboards to minimize the keystroke pressure.
- Prefer using a desktop, rather than a laptop for ergonomics and productivity reasons.
- Use wrists support bands to reduce stress and feel comfortable. If you feel the strain on any part of your body, it implies something is not right, change your posture or position or device setup, take rest/breaks until its comfortable to work again.
The bottom line is set apart time to care for your self, or else this thing would hurt you for life. Hope this helps, if you have any more suggestions, please leave a comment.