A blog from Schubbe Resch Chiropractic and Physical Therapy.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Laptop Setup

Laptops are designed with portability in mind rather than with sound ergonomic principles.   If the screen is at the right height, then the keyboard is too high - if the keyboard is in the right position, then the screen is too close and too low.

Given these challenges, here are some tips for laptop setups:

  1. Use a large screen - purchase a laptop with the largest screen possible to avoid the stressful posture that results from straining to see the text on a small screen.  If you still find yourself straining to see your screen, increase the font size.
  2. Place the screen at eye level - set your laptop height and screen angel so you can easily view the screen without bending or rotating your neck.  Put it about arm's length in front of you.  To do this, you will usually need to elevate the laptop a few inches above your desk, which you can do by placing it on a stable support surface, such as a laptop stand or a thick book.
  3. Don't slouch - propping your laptop on top of your lap requires you to slouch down to see the screen. So if you must work on your lap, put the laptop on your briefcase so you can raise it up slightly.
  4. Use a separate keyboard - when using a laptop for extended periods, use an external, full sized keyboard and position it at a height that allows your shoulders and arms to be in relaxed position, with your elbows at 90 degree so your wrists can stay in a flat position.
  5. Use a separate mouse - use a separate mouse rather than the one that is incorporated into your laptop.  Consider placing the mouse on an adjustable position platform so you can keep your wrist flat while using it.
These tips were taken from a newsletter.

Monday, June 2, 2014

10 Tips for Improving Posture & Ergonomics

Over time, poor posture may be caused by habits from everyday activities such as sitting in office chairs, staring at the computer, cradling a cell phone, carrying a purse, driving, prolonged standing, caring for small children, or even sleeping.  The following guidelines suggest ways to improve posture and ergonomics, especially for people who work sitting in an office char for most of the day.

  1. Identify Warning Signs - Back pain may be the result of poor ergonomics and posture if the pain worse at certain times of the day or week; the pain starts in the neck and moves downwards into the upper back, lower back and extremities; pain that goes away after switching positions; onset of back pain with a new job, new office chair, or new car; and/or back pain that comes and goes for months.
  2. Sitting or Standing, Keep the Body in Alignment - When standing, distribute body weight evenly to the front, back, and sides of the feet.  While sitting in an office chair, take advantage of the chair's features.  Sit up straight and align the ears, shoulders, and hips in one vertical line.  Any prolonged sitting position, even a good one, can be tiring.
  3. Get Up and Move - As muscles tire, slouching, slumping, and other poor postures become more likely.  This is turn puts extra pressure on the neck and back. In order to maintain a relaxed yet supported posture, change positions frequently.
  4. Use Supportive "Props" or Ergonomic Office Chairs - Supportive ergonomic props can take the strain and load of o the spine.  Ergonomic office chairs or chairs with an adjustable back support can be used at work.  Footrests, portable lumbar back supports, or even a towel or small pillow can be used while sitting in an office chair, on soft furniture, or while driving.
  5. Be Aware of Posture in Everyday Settings - Becoming aware of posture and ergonomics at work, home, and play is a vital step towards instilling good posture and ergonomic techniques.  This includes making conscious connections between episodes of back pain and specific situations where poor posture or ergonomics may be the root cause of your pain.
  6. Exercise Promotes Good Posture - Regular exercise such as walking, swimming, or bicycling will help the body star aerobically conditioned, while specific strengthening exercises will help the muscles surrounding the back to stay strong.  These benefits of exercise promote good posture, which will in turn further help condition muscles and prevent injury.
  7. Wear Supportive Footwear - Avoid regularly wearing high heeled shoes which can affect the body's center of gravity.  When standing for long periods of time, propping a leg up on a foot rest, wearing supportive shoe orthotics, or placing a rubber mat on the floor can improve comfort.
  8. Remember Good Posture and Ergonomics When in Motion - Simply walking, lifting heavy materials, holding a telephone, and typing are all moving activities that require attention to ergonomics and posture.  It is important to maintain good posture even while moving to avoid injury, walking tall with shoulders back for example.  Back injuries are especially common while twisting and/or lifting and often occur because of awkward movement and control of upper body weight alone.
  9. Create Ergonomic Environments and Work Spaces - it does require a small investment of time to personalize the workspace, home, and car, but the payoff will be worth it.  Undue strain will be placed on the structures of the spine unless the office chair, desk, keyboard, and computer screen are correctly positioned.
  10. Avoid Overprotecting  Posture - remember that it is important to maintain an overall relaxed posture.  Avoid restricting movements by clenching muscles or adopting an unnatural, stiff posture.  For individuals who already have some back or neck pain, it is a natural tendency to limit movements to avoid provoking increased pain.
The above changes are relatively easy to make and will pay off in terms of a healthier spine and less pain and stiffness over time.