Diana Ceres

Easy tips for a pain-free workday

lil-computerNo more netbooks.

Netbooks… They’re cute. They’re trendy. And great for project meetings and quick Internet searches. However, for long-term use, a good monitor and keyboard are a must. I learned this the hard way.

After using netbooks exclusively for a few years, carpal tunnel and thoracic outlet syndrome struck pretty hard. Last year, I was forced to take a few months’ break from using the computer. As a full-time consultant, this was a pretty hard financial hit.

I have since replaced my netbook with a good ergonomic setup. I have an HP TouchSmart computer that I love. I can scroll through several pages in seconds by flicking the screen with my finger. I also can use my finger to highlight blocks of text. This not only saves time, it also saves my “mouse hand” much strain.

Time off for good posture.

Are you are jutting your head forward right now to read this post? This causes strain on the neck, especially if you are computer-bound for hours each day. Try pulling your head back gently and scooting your chair forward just a bit.

You may notice that your chair is too low or too high now. Take a moment to adjust it to a more comfortable position. Notice where your arms are in relation to your lap. Are they relaxed? How about your shoulders? Is your keyboard in a pullout tray, rather than on a desktop? Is your jaw relaxed or tense? Are you squinting to see the screen?

If you notice any tension as you check in, try zooming in on the page and relaxing your jaw. Drop your shoulders down. And don’t be surprised if you revert to your old ways after a few minutes. Habits can be challenging to break, but with time and persistence, you can cultivate the optimum posture and cadence for your workday.

Pain is something we all experience.

And it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It can be a very good teacher and a much-needed reminder to slow down, take breaks, stretch tense muscles before they become strained, and practice good posture.

Everything you do to cultivate a gentler work experience will increase your chances of career longevity and decrease your chances of injury. Try budgeting in time for breaks when scheduling your projects, so you can take time to stretch and relax your muscles. I also recommend regular chiropractic and massage care and unwinding in a hot tub after spending long days at the computer.

For the lower body, a good walk, run, or some type of cardiovascular activity several times a week is a must for workers as sedentary as we editing and writing types tend to be. We all have our exercise of choice. Mine just happens to be hiking.

I also love to do yoga. What I love about my time on the mat is it affords me a pause in my day, reminding me to go inward, breathe, unwind, and ground myself.

Speaking of which, it’s just about time for me to get back on the mat. Stay tuned for next week’s post on simple yoga-based stretches to alleviate office tension, stress, and pain.

Diana Ceres is a Senior Editor with Dragonfly Editorial and a devoted yogini.


comments

  1. This is so true … I can get knotted up using a netbook for only a few minutes, especially if I’m using it while lying in bed or sitting in a chair, holding it on my lap.

  2. magi |

    Thanks Diana.
    I’m looking forward to the stretching guide. I walk dogs for my breaks… it helps us all feel better.

  3. Diana Ceres |

    You are most welcome, Magi. I hope the stretching guidance helps. Walking dogs is a very good practice. Glad to hear you incorporate that into your routine already. :)

    And Sam, not sure what to do about those netbooks, other than use them sparingly. They really strain the body. I’m so grateful to you for pointing that out to me last year when we spoke about the carpal tunnel situation.

  4. Diana, since then I’ve also switched to using this giant split ergonomic keyboard, which seems to help a lot too.

  5. Diana Ceres |

    Cool. Glad to hear it’s helping. I got some ergonomic wrist and mouse pads filled with ‘ergoBeads’ made by Imak. They also seem to help (more so than the gel pads). You can get them at Office Max. I may need to spring for the ergo keyboard soon. Every little bit helps, as they say…

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