Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.
Issue link: http://spiritofwomen.epubxp.com/i/766272
31 SHUTTERSTOCK Check your distance. Sit an arm's length away from your computer monitor to avoid eyestrain and subsequent neck craning. When positioned properly, you should barely be able to graze the front of your screen with your hand. If you need to crane your head to read what's on the screen because of glare or poor eyesight, adjust the lighting or invest in a pair of readers or computer glasses. Position your keyboard and monitor properly. Use a pullout keyboard tray with your computer so that your arms can be lower than your desk level and your wrists can be flat. When you're looking at your computer monitor, the top of the screen should be positioned slightly above your line of sight. Don't make your smartphone your office. "We're spending more time on our phones than we are at our desktops," says Garrett. While smartphones are convenient, the posture associated with them, such as resting your chin on your chest while looking at the screen to answer email, text and create documents, can lead to repetitive stress injuries in your neck and shoulders and arthritis at the base of your thumbs. Instead, "spend more time at a desktop that's set up ergonomically," he advises. Garrett says he uses his desktop computer rather than his smartphone to answer email and texts as often as possible. "A well-setup desk is better for you," according to Garrett. • T oiling away at a desk all day may not seem physically taxing. In fact, the average office worker burns only about 105 calories per hour. Still, office work can take a toll on your health. Countless micro movements over time can cause repetitive stress injuries, such as tendonitis of the elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition in which swollen tissue in the wrist causes a traffic jam at the carpal tunnel, the pathway through which major nerves and brain signals pass to your hands. Office duties can also lead to such problems as joint pain in your hips and legs, chronic muscle fatigue, and neck and lower back pain. Luckily, it's fairly easy to make your office more ergonomically safe to help reduce your risk of discomfort, says Greg Garrett, a workplace ergonomics doctoral research assistant at Texas A&M University. He recommends the following tips for a healthy work station setup so that when you're sitting, your body is well-positioned for the tasks at hand. Sit squarely and firmly against the backrest of your chair. Make sure you have at least a 1-inch clearance between your calves and the front edge of the seat. If you don't, purchase a lumbar back- support pillow from a computer store. The pillow will scoot you forward in your chair so that your legs aren't plastered against the edge of the seat, which can reduce blood flow to your legs and feet. Get your footing. Your legs and feet should be on the floor or a footrest in front of you at a 90-degree angle. "If your feet don't touch the floor, get a footrest," Garrett says. Some office chairs have a small ring at the bottom of the chair—don't use it. "Bending your knees to rest your feet on the ring can cause contact stress and cut off the circulation to your lower legs and feet," Garrett says. Make sure you can see straight. Place your computer monitor and keyboard directly in front of you, not off to one side. Twisting your neck to see your screen can lead to a repetitive stress injury. Stick with a single large-screen monitor if possible. "I'm not a big fan of dual monitors because you have to rotate your neck to use them," Garrett says. 1 2 3 4 5 6 If your feet don't touch the floor [when you're sitting at your desk], get a footrest. " " ~ Greg Garrett, Texas A&M University