Ergonomics: Tips For Using Modern Devices
Take a moment and think about this: how many hours a day do you spend on some type of screen? It could be a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone or any other type of connected device.
For the average person, the answer is a lot. In 2019, smartphones alone accounted for 2 hours, 55 minutes a day (on average). If you add in the time spent on a computer at work – more than 40% of Americans report using a computer at work for at least 4 hours per day – then we are suddenly talking about more than half of your day spent using some type of device.
With so much screen time comes the risk of musculoskeletal injuries – soft tissue injuries that can influence the muscles, nerves, ligaments, joints, blood vessels, and spine. This includes the following conditions:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Chronic neck and back pain
- Tennis Elbow
- Upper Crossed Syndrome
- Weak core muscles
… just to name a few.
So, the question now becomes: how do we protect our body from these issues?
When you hear the term ergonomics most people immediately think of the workplace. And while “workplace ergonomics” is roughly defined as the science behind designing the workplace, keeping in mind the capabilities and limitations of the worker that is not the only place where ergonomics can be applied. As chiropractors, it is our job to evaluate the way that our patients are interacting with these devices in order to come up with solutions that will protect their body. We realize that devices are here to stay and their usage will most likely continue to increase on a daily basis. Luckily, there are ergonomic tips that can help you preserve your body’s proper positioning while using different devices. The main being: desktop computers, laptops, and smartphones/tablets.
- Position your body in a “neutral spine” – wrists straight, elbows and hips at 90 degrees and feet flat on the ground
- Your eyes should be level with the top ⅔ of the screen
- Sit approximately 18 to 24 inches away from the screen
- Get up and step away from the computer every 30-60 minutes for about 2-5 minutes
- Vary your tasks so that you do not spend too much time typing or too much time mousing
- Use your laptop as if it is a desktop computer – sit down or stand up while using, do not lie down
- If using for an extended period, consider getting accessories such as a riser or plug-in keyboard
- Avoid screen glare – close blinds and place the laptop perpendicular to the windows
- Take breaks – again, every 30 minutes try either getting up or changing tasks to avoid irritation from overuse
Smartphones & Tablets
- Keep it brief – try not to text too much; if possible, use the autocomplete tool or word prediction to save time
- Maintain a neutral grip – wrists straight (not flexed or extended)
- Maintain an upright posture while looking at the screen in order to avoid bending your head down constantly
- Always use the phone vertically when writing messages to avoid strain on the thumbs
At the end of the day, the best solution for device usage is to limit it whenever possible… and to remember to schedule your regular chiropractic adjustments!
For more information about the benefits of chiropractic care for posture, check out our recent blog post The Power Of Posture.
*Wellness Media Resource. Modern Day Ergonomics. The Wellness Series. 2014.