The computer is probably one of the most useful things ever invented by man. We use it in almost every aspect of life – personal, work, health care, transportation, entertainment, education, and even dating. We have come to rely on computers so much that we spend a lot of our time in front of them. Although they do make our lives a whole lot easier, prolonged use can present various health and physical hazards. Be aware of these physical problems and how you can prevent or correct them.
1. Bad Posture
Cause: Many computer users suffer from bad posture mainly because they forget to be conscious about the way they sit and position their body.
Prevention: Sit with your back straight and avoid leaning over the keyboard. Make sure your behind is on the center of the seat. Your lower back should touch the backrest the whole time and your legs should bend at the knee. You can use a pillow or a lower back support if needed. Keep your feet on the floor at all times or use a box or a stool if your feet don’t reach the floor.
2. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Cause: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is caused by the repeated or excessive movement of the muscles and nerves in the hands and wrists. There is a strong association between work-related tasks (such as typing and using of the mouse) and CTS.
Prevention: Proper positioning of the hands can greatly help reduce the stress on the fingers and wrists. Your elbows should be bent at a 90 degree angle and your keyboard should be close enough so that you don’t have to stretch your fingers. When working, you should keep your wrists straight and at the same level as your fingers and forearms. To help you keep in position, you can use a wrist rest. Of course, don’t forget to stretch your wrists before and after working. You should also rest your hands during downtime.
3. Neck and Shoulder Stiffness
Cause: You may experience stiffness in the neck and shoulders after sitting in the same position for a long time. The stiffness can also be a result of wrong posture.
Solution: The most obvious thing you can do is to be conscious of the way you position your body. Another thing you can do is to take many short breaks throughout the day. During these breaks, perform neck and shoulder stretches to help reduce the stiffness and to promote better blood circulation.
4. Back Pain
Cause: Back pain can occur after long periods of sitting in front of the computer. The usual culprits are incorrect posture, inefficient workplace organization, and muscle tension due to stress.
Solution: You can prevent the onset of back pain by sitting in the correct posture when you work. Break up your work day into short breaks so that you can walk around and stretch your muscles. You should organize your workplace so that you eliminate unnecessary movements such as reaching out and twisting. As for stress, make sure that you take time to relax and free your mind of worry.
5. Eye Strain
Cause: The specific cause for eyestrain varies for each individual. However, there are three general causes of this work-related problem. These causes are: poor lighting, harmful work habits, and lack of proper eye care.
Solution: Adjust the lighting in your workspace, as well as the brightness and contrast settings of your computer. You should choose the settings that make your eyes feel most comfortable – nothing too dark or too bright. The next thing is to have better work habits. You can try enlarging the text on your monitor so you won’t have to strain to read small fonts. When you can, read documents offline. And of course, take breaks to give your eyes a rest. Eye exercises are also said to help relax the eyes. Because eye strain can lead to more serious eye problems, you should get your eyes checked regularly or wear glasses if you have to.
6. Dry Eyes
Cause: Dry eyes are caused by staring at the computer screen too long and you forget to blink. Blinking helps lubricate the eyes so when you fail to do this, your eyes become dry, red, and sometimes even itchy.
Solution: You can position your monitor so that the top is just below eye level. Doing this reduces the need for your eyes to be fully open to see. You should also take breaks so you can blink the way you do when you are relaxed.
Cause: Myopia or nearsightedness is said to be caused by constantly focusing on nearby or close-up objects. The inner eye muscles become used to the close-up work that it loses the flexibility to focus on distant objects. The more you do close-up work such as using the computer or reading, the more the distance vision declines until all you see is a blur.
Prevention: There is an exercise you can do that may help keep the eye muscles flexible: for a few seconds, focus on an object that is about 6 inches from you and then shift your focus to a distant object. Do this several times a day. If you find yourself squinting or having trouble seeing far-off objects, then maybe it’s time to see an eye doctor. You might need to wear corrective lenses.
Our eyes were not designed to be used non-stop whether for doing computer work, reading, or even just plain staying open. Like any other muscle in the body, the muscles in the eyes also need to be rested and to be treated with care. In this modern age, it seems like we cannot stop computer use long enough to rest our eyes for a few minutes. However, I urge you to go against the habit of prolonged computer use. Take time to rest your eyes so that they can be fit to serve you for many more years ahead.
Top Photo Credit: fjords