You must know the signs. You get up to move around the office and you have to practically “unfold” yourself. Your fingers, shoulders, legs and everything in between feels stiff and you blink like a vampire at dawn.
Everyone who works at a computer is guilty of it at some point – working too long, incorrectly, totally focused on your electronic gadget of choice.
And yes, that does include hunching over your tablet in your car, or folding yourself around your smartphone at every opportunity.
You might think that you know about repetitive strain injury (RSI) and you’ve got that “covered” but there are other serious long term health repercussions of not “working well” with computers and other devices. This includes back and neck pain (that can last a lifetime), muscle paralysis and strain, fatigue, carpal tunnel syndrome and loss of sensation.
On top of all that, you must admit that working with electronic gadgets all day can be draining and make you feel dazzed for hours afterwards.
So, how can you protect your health if your business relies on you spending as much time as possible with your computer, tablet or mobile?
Take a break!
You’ve probably heard this before but it’s well worth emphasising. Every 60 minutes take yourself away from your device, stretch and focus on something else for a while.
This doesn’t have to mean anxiously trotting round the car park or wasting precious time eating other people’s fridge food in the staff room. Just a few minutes of moving and stretching gives your body and vision time to “reboot”.
If you can’t move around for any reason there are plenty of chair based exercises to do that can iron out the crinkles, such as rolling your shoulders, gentling rotating your neck, shrugging and nodding.
Be aware of your desk and chair
Thanks to hot desking, virtual offices, mobile technology and all the other modern working trends and styles, it could be that you don’t have access to an ergonomically designed workstation.
Wherever you are, make sure you are sitting with your back straight, square onto your device. Adjust the chair if possible, and tilt your screen to create a position when your body is upright, and you are parallel with your screen.
More handy tips for computer health
Your arm and hand positioning might feel fine for the hours you type things out on your keyboard, or all that “touching” and swiping on mobile technology. But are you saving up some nasty surprises for later in life?
Make sure your wrists are as straight as possible as you work and not arched; use a wrist rest if necessary. Take time every hour to stretch your arms above your head while holding hands (your own). Also, flex your wrists and fan out your fingers regularly.
A footnote for healthy working at your computer
Do your ever stop to look at your feet? No, that’s not some sort of relaxation therapy it’s a serious question. If you’re going to be sitting for any length of time, then having your feet positioned straight, preferable with some form of support, can help prevent problems with your legs and back.
You may well catch yourself working with your feet or legs crossed over each other, or even your feet bent at some weird angle. It’s a common issue and can lead to difficulties with muscles, nerves and circulation. You need a comfortable “open” posture for your feet and legs, and regular opportunities to move and stretch (yes we emphasised it again).
Keeping an eye on your computer and your health
Make sure the light and the glare on your chosen device is at the right level for prolonged use. This may mean fitting a screen filter.
If you have bright overhead lights where you are working, you may be exposing your retinas to far more light than is healthy.
So, move. And blink…. yes blink. Have you noticed how dry your eyes are after a long session at your computer? This is largely because when you are focused on your work you are not blinking enough. Take regular breaks to blink and allow moisture to build back up. And roll your eyes or shut them altogether to give them a rest.
Make sure you get regular eye tests at the opticians, and if you wear specs, ensure they fit properly for optimum advantage.
Stay stress free
Easier said than done… we know, but find ways to relax and try not to worry. All of the good advice above will be useless if the stresses and strains of your working day cause you to hunch over your computer with the weight of the world on your shoulders.
Fortunately, if you place all your web and email hosting in our capable hands, that should at least provide peace of mind for those crucial communications and marketing functions. And you can be “sitting pretty”.