People spend countless hours on their computers and laptops without realizing the risk factors for improper mouse and keyboard ergonomics. Extending the wrists, sitting for long hours with sufficient foot support, slouching, and straining to look at the contents of monitors puts physical strain on the body.
Over time, these practices accumulate and cause trauma disorders. They can also lead to repetitive stress injuries that have a long-term impact on the body. Symptoms may include loss of sensation, pain, lower performance, tingling, and muscle fatigue.
In this article, you will learn how to reduce injuries, strain, and fatigue by improving improper posture and the arrangement of your workplace. By the end of it, you should be able to work in a relaxed, comfortable posture each day that does not harm your body in the long run.
Risk Factors for Improper Mouse and Keyboard Ergonomics
Carpal Tunnel is a common injury among those who use their computer for endless hours. This injury occurs when stress is put on the wrist and affects the main nerve present in the wrist. Early signs to look out for are a feeling of tingling or numbness in the forearms and hands.
In order to ensure that you do not experience Carpal Tunnel, you can lay your forearms and wrists down on a soft, flat surface. To make this easier, you can also use wrist supports.
Moreover, it is important to pay close attention to the position of your arms and wrists when typing. Keep the elbows slightly bent and allow your wrists to lie in a neutral position so that they are not in the air or at an odd angle.
A majority of the population uses a lot of force when typing. Realistically, this much force is not needed. It is unnecessary and can increase the strain you feel on your fingers and shoulders.
To prevent this, take the time out to consciously relax your grip and keep your keystrokes light. Set reminders on your phone for each hour so that you can get up and stretch and take a little walk around the house. Moreover, keep in mind that the colder your hands are, the more likely they are to become stiff. Hence, keep yourself warm.
Tendinitis (Mouse Shoulder)
This is a broad injury that can be caused by a number of situations. Tendinitis usually happens when inflammation occurs in the tendon. Computer users are likely to obtain tendinitis because of improper mouse and keyboard ergonomics. Tendinitis can usually cause pain in the shoulder and neck that travels through the hands and arms.
You must adjust the chair to the desk’s height to prevent this injury. Moreover, your chair should have armrests that allow you to rest your arms whenever you take a break from typing. In fact, you do not always have to rely on the armrests. You can even invest in forearm supports to avoid stress on your shoulders.
Repetitive Strain Injury
Injuries can occur when the same movements are performed over and over again. If you are someone who uses the computer every single day, the act of typing and using the mouse excessively can result in strain on your shoulders and fingers.
To prevent repetitive strain injury, try alternating your tasks during the day. If you notice any pain in your muscles, try hot and cold therapy. Start by icing the injury for 10 minutes and then heating it for the next 10 minutes.
Tips to Avoid injuries
Make Changes to Your Workstation
Before you start working on your computer, take the time to adjust the height and other settings so that you are not working in an awkward position.
This means that you must choose a chair that supports your back and provides lumbar support so that you are not crouching while typing. Moreover, all your written work on the computer must be at eye level. For this, you will have to adjust the height of your computer table. If you experience any glare, adjust the lighting or tilt the computer.
You also need to keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle so that they rain close to your body and forearms. The key is to always ensure that they are parallel to the floor. For extra support, you can use a forearm pad.
Lastly, ensure that your upper legs are parallel to the floor. Your feet need to be flat on the ground. If you cannot reach the floor, find a stool to support your body weight.
Make Changes to Your Computer
Laptops have not been invented to be used for longer periods of time. This is because the keyboard is too close to the monitor that one cannot possibly enjoy a good position for too long while using it.
If you have a desk job, we would recommend getting a separate keyboard and monitor. You can place the laptop on some books so that your screen is kept at eye level. The external keyboard can then be used to keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle so that you do not feel any stress on your shoulders and forearms.
Improve Your Posture
Do you have weak eyesight and wear glasses to see the world around you better? In this case, ensure that they fit properly so that you do not have to tilt your head too much.
Moreover, do not type aggressively. Keep the force balanced so that your muscles stay relaxed. Remember not to slouch- practice sitting tall so that your hips, shoulders, and ears are aligned. Each time you sit on your chair, consciously try to make yourself an inch taller.
When using a mouse, you should also try to switch hands. This will ensure that strain is not put on one hand for too long. Furthermore, whenever you take a break, try to rest your wrists fully. Take your hands off the mouse so that your fingers can relax. Stretch your fingers every now and then as well.
Reevaluate Your Work Routine
If you have a desk job that requires you to stay in one place for longer periods of time, it is important that you consciously take breaks whenever possible.
Divide your work into smaller segments so that you can switch between tasks that require different body motions. Every one hour, take a walk around your office. Stretch your shoulders and arms when you can. On days that you are packed with work and cannot leave your seat, simply alternate using the mouse. When you are not typing, place your hands in your lap to give your muscles a break.
Incorporate Some Daily Exercise into Your Routine
Do not underestimate the importance of movement- it helps lubricate the joints, relax tissues, reduce fatigue, build stamina, prevent stiffness, and improve circulation. According to a study, individuals who used the computer every day were able to benefit from moving or stretching every seven minutes.
The key is to take a 20-second break every 10 minutes. You do not even have to leave your desk. Simply take your hands off the keyboard and rotate your wrists or stretch your fingers.
Every 30 to 60 minutes, take a break for 2 to 5 minutes so that you can stretch your hips or walk around the room.
Exercises for Prolonged Mouse and Keyboard Usage
Rotate your head to the left and then to the right slowly.
Rotate your shoulders in front and then in reverse. You can also shrug your shoulders and hold that position for a couple of seconds.
Sit up straight and stretch your hands as far as possible to the ceiling. Hold this position for a couple of seconds and then relax.
Relax your arms by dropping them to the side and shaking them gently for a couple of seconds. You can also rotate your arms so that they do not feel stiff.
Flex your wrists by resting your elbows on the desk and then using your right hand to bend the left hand. Repeat this exercise for the other hand as well.
Roll your eyes clockwise and anti-clockwise every hour to avoid eye strain.
Rotate your foot from the ankle and reverse the movement to prevent cramps.
If you feel any numbness, weakness, lingering pain, or have a hard time keeping up with everyday tasks, we recommend visiting the doctor as soon as possible.