Computer Ergonomics: Prevent Back Pain and Strain without Leaving Your Job

Ever since the computer was invented, more and more jobs have been created where a person will be sitting in front of a screen for hours. Although the computer is known for making a lot of things automatic and efficient, there is also a downside to its use. Too much computer use can lead to computer vision syndrome.

What is Computer Vision Syndrome?

Computer Vision Syndrome or CVS refers to problems related to the eyes due to excessive use of computers. The primary cause is excessive screen exposure simply because the brightness and level of the screen affect the overall posture of a person which, in turn, affects the muscles and bones of the body.

There are several symptoms for CVS, namely:

  • red or burning eyes
  • dry eyes
  • stiff neck
  • lower back pain
  • tensed shoulders
  • strain on the back or the neck

Although these are minor pains, they can still add to the discomfort experienced by the employee. Once these pains become a source of annoyance for an employee, he or she ceases to be productive.

Computer Ergonomics

To combat CVS, doctors and therapists have come up with “computer ergonomics”. Ergonomics, from the Latin word “ergo” meaning “work” refers to the science of designing and adjusting both the computer and the work surroundings in order to make employees more efficient. Unlike other methods of treatment that only focus on the illness itself, ergonomics takes into account the external factors that can be potential causes of CVS. Thus, ergonomics is meant to improve the overall working condition of employees so that they are able to perform at their best.

When it comes to computer ergonomics, the main focus is on the laptop. How can professionals make use of laptops and desktop computers so that there is a minimal strain on the employee?

Some Tips on Computer Ergonomics

Even without a professional, there are some CVS symptoms that can be avoided using simple adjustments to the screen and body posture. Here are some tips for preventing back pain and strain:

  1. Level the screen to the eyes

This is the most important tip because a lot of strain comes from the posture of a person which is directly related to the positioning of the screen. For example, the screen is situated right across a person’s neck. That person’s posture will then adjust so that it is easier to view the screen. The result would be a bent neck for hours which can cause strain. For worse cases, a stiff neck can also be felt.

To avoid this, what can be done is to level the screen to the eyes. It’s either the chair is adjusted so that it is low enough for the eyes to level with the screen, or the computer display is raised.

  1. Be wary of proper posture

The proper posture when using the computer is simple. For the arms, the length of the elbow to the wrist should be parallel to the floor. The wrist should avoid resting on sharp edges of the laptop keyboard. The upper arm should be parallel to the ground.

For the back, it should always be straight, but not too straight that the posture becomes rigid. To make it more relaxed, put a small pillow on the lower back so that it rests.

Lastly, the thighs should be parallel to the ground while the calves are perpendicular to it. Avoid crossing the legs because it doesn’t promote proper blood circulation.

  1. Take breaks

One of the most important tips is to take breaks. After 30-60 minutes of looking at the screen, do some stretches for the neck, wrists, arms, and shoulders. This allows the muscles to relax and “to breathe” after being still for an hour. Simple exercises include rotating the neck from side to side slowly, rotating the wrists clockwise and counterclockwise, and rotating the shoulders. A few stretches can also help lessen the strain on muscles and bones.

While computer ergonomics refers to the position of a laptop or desktop, a few exercises and the proper posture can help a lot in preventing CVS. For anyone experiencing CVS, there are simple ways to relieve the body of tension and it would be best to start applying them.

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