Ergonomics Simplified

Complete ergonomic tutorial and recommendations based on your specific problem...

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These are very brief examples. Please be sure to do the evaluation to learn how to set things up and for more detailed explanations!

Wrists

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Typing or mousing with the wrist on the wrist rest or desk can create poor positioning and increased pressure in the carpal tunnel. Holding wrist bent up/down/sideways for long periods causes damage to the nerve in the wrist. This creates numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness in wrist/hand/fingers.

Tendonitis (Tennis elbow, Golfers elbow, pisiform/FCU tendonitis, etc.): Holding your wrist in one position for long periods of time causes damage to muscles and tendons. Often resting on the desk or a wrist rest to mouse or type is the culprit. Also can be a problem if the wrist bends toward the little finger to type/mouse.

Solutions: An ergonomic keyboard that fits your body and typing style can improve your wrist posture. Float the wrists in the air while working. Wrist positioning while typing can be achieved with proper height adjustment of the keyboard/mouse. A height adjustable keyboard tray is usually the best way to do this. A mouse that fits your hand or Mousemate can help while typing. Keep wrists straight to type and mouse and while using the Backspace, Enter, and Shift keys.

Hands

Trigger finger: Excessive mouse clicking and squeezing the mouse between thumb and small finger can overuse the finger tendons creating snapping, pain, or the finger getting stuck while bent. Squeezing hard on small pens to write is also harmful.

Solutions: Use keyboard shortcuts to minimize mouse use, use a light touch and large diameter pens to write. Felt tip or gel pens require less force than ball point pens. They should have a rubber grip requiring less grip force. Consider an alternative ergonomic pen design, such as the PenAgain or EZ Grip ResQ pen.

Cramping: Holding the mouse with the thumb and small finger can cause cramping in the hand.

Solutions: Relax the palm on the top of the mouse and relax the thumb and small finger. A mouse that fits your hand properly will make this easier.

Neck/Shoulders

Strain: Improper positioning causes muscles that should be at rest to work all day. This causes overuse, insufficient rest, muscle tension, and pain.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: The nerves and blood vessels in your neck and shoulder are compressed causing fatigue, numbness, tingling, and pain into the arms.

"Pinched nerves" & radiculopathy: The nerves in your cervical spine (neck) are damaged from compression. The pain, numbness, and tingling can radiate through the whole arm.

Causes: Poor seated postures (especially forward head, slouching, and rounded shoulders positions.) The result of incorrectly adjusted or inadequate chair. Reaching to keyboard/mouse that is too high on desk. Reaching over to mouse not directly in front of you. Pinching phone between ear and shoulder. Improper positioning of screen and documents.

Solutions: A chair that fits appropriately and is well adjusted. Armrests that adjust to proper height and move in close to your side can unweight the arms/neck. Most armrests do not adjust sufficiently. Keyboard and mouse must be at proper height. A height adjustable keyboard tray is best way to do this. Mouse is usually too far away with standard keyboards. An alternate keyboard or left hand mousing can fix this. If the screen is improperly positioned neck injury can result. A document holder will reduce repetitive neck motions. A headset for your phone eliminates pinching between the ear and shoulder. Desk should be arranged efficiently. Go to Free Ergonomic Evaluation to learn how to do this.

Low back

Low back pain: The low back is strained if there is insufficient lumbar support or the heels of your feet are not firmly planted on the floor. If the depth of the seat is incorrect this will not allow proper positioning.

Sciatica: Presents as pain in the low back that can go down the leg and also create weakness, numbness, or tingling. There is often a problem with the intervertebral disks.

Solutions: Chair must be adjusted to properly support the low back and be at the correct height. An angle of about 110 degrees between the back and legs can decrease strain on the low back. If not possible in current chair get a chair that is properly adjustable. A chair with at least a midback height is helpful. A cushion can compensate for insufficient back support if proper fitting chair unavailable. A footrest or phone book can be placed under the feet if the chair can not be lowered adequately. You should change positions often and take frequent rest breaks. Go to Free Ergonomic Evaluation to learn how to do this properly.

Elbow/Forearm

Tennis elbow/extensor tendonitis: Holding the wrist bent up while typing or mousing can cause this pain and overuse of your forearm muscles. These muscles are some of the most overused in our bodies and account for large amounts of injury. If your wrists bend out toward the little finger while you type this is also a cause of injury. This may also result if the mouse and keyboard are too high or low. Excessive use of the scroll wheel is also a factor.

Solutions: Don't keep wrists on wrist rest to mouse or type. A split ergonomic keyboard often helps. Keyboard trays reduce reach and correct height while working. Use keyboard shortcuts and arrow keys to minimize scroll wheel use.

Cubital tunnel syndrome: On the inner and underside of the elbow is a very superficial nerve. This nerve is easily injured from pressure while resting on an armrest or excessive bending of the elbow.

Solutions: Lower armrest so you are not resting on it while typing or mousing. A keyboard tray can decrease the amount of bend in the elbow to keyboard and mouse.

Radial tunnel syndrome/Posterior interosseous nerve syndrome/Wartenberg’s syndrome: Pain or weakness about 4 fingers width below the elbow can be caused from keeping the arm in an unhealthy stretched out and palm down position. There can be weakness to lift the fingers or wrist or numbness in the back of the hand.

A Keyboard tray puts the keyboard/mouse at proper height and distance, an angled ergonomic keyboard can reduce palm down position.

A vertical mouse may help. Go to Free Ergonomic Evaluation to learn how to do this properly.

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