After years of observation, I have noticed three things that affects your body (physically) in the way you interact with your computer. Here are some recommendations to help you survive. I’m not getting into what chair to buy, posture, where to place you feet. I’m just discussing three devices you use while computing.
There are two things you should consider when you sit down at your computer. One involves protecting yourself from radiation, and the other from neck strain. How close do you sit in front of your monitor, and where is it situated vertically in front of you?
When it comes to CRT’s (cathode ray tube), the big, bulky ones that look like TV’s, you should not sit any closer than approximately 18″. Some CRT’s can produce large amounts of radiation. They do have shielding that cuts down on the amount that gets out. The front is the most shielded, while the sides come in second and the back will usually have no shielding at all. You don’t have to worry about LCD’s (flat screens), they are quite safe. When it comes to vertical placing, having your monitor too low on your desk will cause you to drop your head down, thus causing neck strain. The same goes for elevating it too high. The best place for your screen is where your eyes line up with the bottom of the top third of your screen. There is a dual benefit for this position. The first is that you will save yourself some neck strain The second benefit is that the colours on the screen will be more uniform because you will be viewing your screen at the correct angle. Remember that the viewing angle rating on a screen is both from the sides and from the top and bottom.
Where is your keyboard?
Yes, I know…it’s right in front of you. Make sure that your keyboard is positioned higher than your elbow. This will help you avoid CTS (Carpel Tunnel Syndrome). In addition, I have noticed a lot of users tend to centre their keyboard directly in front of their monitor. However, when you do this you are actually including the two blocks of keys to the right of the letter keys. The first block has the Delete, Home, Arrow and other keys, and the next block is your numeric keypad. What I am talking about is, where are the main set of keys (the letters) in proximity to the centre of your monitor. In this position, when you are typing, you are sitting in the centre of your monitor, but you are typing to the left, thus causing you to twisting your body and your head slightly to the right to offset the angle, or you are typing on an angle. This will over time cause back and shoulder pain. Try moving your keyboard so that the letter keys are centred in front of your monitor, your back will thank you.
Always have your mouse positioned on your desk slightly higher than where your elbow rests. If you position your mouse lower than your elbow, it will cause you to bend your wrist which can cause CTS.
For those of you who use notebooks, the same principals apply as above. Just make sure that when you are typing that your notebook is higher than your elbow so that you hands rest by bending your wrist down as if you were resting your hands vs. raising your fingers up like you were just about to scratch someone.
Practice Safe Computing!