LOOK around, they’re everywhere: hunched shoulders, angled necks and wrists, hands twisted like claws. As people harness their bodies to use more electronic devices in more places, they may unknowingly be putting themselves at a greater risk of injury. Things were much simpler 20 years ago, when employees worked mainly on desktop computers that could be adjusted for maximum comfort. Now people have added laptops, smartphones and tablets to their arsenals, and they’re using them at work, at home and in trains, planes, hotels and coffeehouses.
Folks positioning themselves improperly, people are at greater risk of eye strain, tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome, to name just a few ailments. Repetitive actions that lead to overuse of muscles and tendons can inflame them, causing pain in the hands, shoulders, neck and back.
Laptopsare adding to these problems because they don’t meet any of the ergonomic requirements for a computer system. The keyboard and the screen are connected, so if you place the keyboard at the ideal position for typing, the screen won’t be at the best distance for viewing. Docking stations that provide an extra keyboard or monitor can help solve this problem.
Another lurking danger is touch screens. Keys that move up and down provide more of a cushion for the fingers, whereas the drumming of fingers against screens is harsher and can lead to soreness and should not be used heavily for typing.
And think of our poor thumbs, which have been pressed into a level of service they were never meant to provide. Thumbs are more vulnerable than fingers because they have two bones instead of three.
Texting has led to an increase in a condition known as De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, where the tendons become so inflamed that it becomes painful to move your thumb, affecting your ability to hold things. Don’t discount psychological factors. Mental stress can cause you to tense your muscles, aggravating any existing physical stress. These days, you can be texting your boss one minute and a friend the next. And this greater mingling of work and personal life is placing more stress on the body. It can also make it harder to pinpoint what is causing a new physical problem.
Look for the things that are pulling you forward and fix them. Sit back in your chair, support your feet if needed and make sure your arms are relaxed as you type. Check that the screen is close enough so that you can see clearly without strain, enlarging the type size if necessary.
The simplest and most well-worn piece of advice is one that people too often forget to follow: take a break. Separating yourself from your machines gives your muscles, and your mind, a rest. www.TheEyewearGallery.com Dr. Warren Johnson/Dr. Burt Bodan www.yelp.com/biz/eyewear-gallery-memphis-2 www.facebook.com/EyewearGallery, http://twitter.com/eyeweargallery , , http://www.linkedin.com/pub/warren-johnson/12/797/b44