Monthly Archives: November 2014

Dear Ergo Diva – Autumn Ergonomic Advice

Ergo Diva addresses your ergonomic questions…and their effect on health and well being

This November, Ergo Diva answers three questions from readers worried about the effects their repetitive actions have on their bodies. From cold hands to aching mouse hands, and neck pains from incorrectly positioned documents, Ergo Diva brings class and ingenuity to everyday problems. Her advice continues to help readers around the country and throughout the world implement practices and use of ergonomic furniture and peripherals that alleviate stress, increase productivity, and contribute positively to healthy and happy people around the world.

Winter Hands

Dear Ergo Diva,

Winter isn’t officially here yet, but when I work at my computer, my hands are freezing! Could this be related to ergonomics? And what do you suggest I do?

No Gloves from Cleveland

Dear Gloveless,

The saying is “cold hands, warm heart,” but in general, cold hands are often caused by poor circulation, so you are wise to seek ergonomic solutions. I recommend the following:

  • Take frequent breaks
  • Rotate your wrists periodically
  • Open and close your fists
  • Relax your shoulders by getting your elbows and wrists level with your keyboard.
  • Be a diva and turn your cold hand predicament into a hot fashion statement!

Ergonomic WristletsOur graphic designer who suffers from cold hands has developed her own fashion statement: wrist-lets that keep her wrists warm while she is working. They are comfortable, soothing, and keep her wrists warm while she is at the computer. You could also try fingerless gloves that are very Madonna-esque and come in a variety of fashionable colors, or a single Michael Jackson-like glove just for your mousing hand.

The combination of ergonomic improvements, exercises, taking multiple breaks and your new diva fashion will keep your hands as warm as your heart!

An Ergonomic Mousetrap

Dear Ergo Diva,

I get aches and pains in just my right hand and I think it is because I use my right hand to move my mouse. Of course, I can’t just stop using the mouse. What do you suggest?

The Hand That Moves the Mouse from Connecticut

Dear Mouse Hand,

When you have to pick up and drag the mouse across the screen, you overuse your wrist, fingers, and forearm. These motions can cause Repetitive Motion Injuries. Luckily, too much movement can be avoided easily.

  1. Increase the speed of your mouse setting: When you set your mouse to a faster speed, you minimize the required movements and relieve hand and wrist tension. Usually, you can change this setting with your existing mouse driver, which you can access from the Control Panel.
  1. Use keyboard shortcuts to minimize mouse movements: There are many keyboard shortcuts you can use instead of moving the mouse to the menu. For example, you can use your keyboard to save by holding down the Ctrl+s keys. For a list of common Windows shortcuts, click here. For shortcuts specifically in Outlook, click here. If you are a Mac user, this list will help. When you start using these shortcuts, you will inevitability start to remember them. Using them instead of your mouse will save you time and save your wrists!
  1. Make sure your wrists and elbows are level with your keyboard: this may mean raising your chair or lowering your keyboard. You may want to look for a keyboard arm that lowers your workstation or a chair that can be raised even higher.

These three easy tips are easy to incorporate into your regular routine and have a big impact on the wellness of your wrists.

Paper Pains

Dear Ergo Diva,

I do a lot of typing while I reference paper documents. Where is the best place to position the documents I am working with? I usually set them on my desk beside my keyboard, but I feel like I am straining my neck from constantly looking down and to the side.

Document Strain from Duluth

Dear Document,

Ideally, you should place your documents centered between your keyboard and monitor. This allows you to view them while sitting in a neutral position, which is easy on your neck. Also, your documents should be angled in a way that allows you to view both your monitor and your paperwork.

I use a document holder that can hold two 8 ½ x 11” pieces of paper side by side. Make sure you get one that is portable, height-adjustable and has the ability to angle. Another alternative is to use a spare 3 ring binder (the thicker, the better), and place your papers on it with the lower edge close to you.

By first glancing at papers that are flat on your desk and then using the notebook (or document holder), you can actually feel your neck relax!

Got Ergonomic Questions?

Ergo Diva has answers!

Send your inquiries to ergodiva@kareproducts.com

 

About Karen Burke

Karen is the founder and president of Kare Products, specializing in active ergonomic solutions. She has 30 years experience in ergonomic product design and consulting.

Work and Travel Smart!

Creating an ergonomic workspace is vital, but it won’t do any good while traveling. So if you imagine working on a white sandy beach or at a sidewalk café, consider this: it could get pretty uncomfortable out there. Luckily, there are quite a few possibilities to care for your body on the road.

Read our special post on Ergonomics To Go!

Ergonomics for Writers

National Novel Writing Month: Ergonomic Best Practices for Writers

In honor of November’s National Novel Writing Month, we salute the writers, the novelists, the next Charles Dickens, F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Dan Brown.

Writing takes talent, research, muse, and sometimes a bit of luck. But if you have all four of those elements, adding in a sprinkle of ergonomic best practices can help elevate any novelist to the next level.

Setting the Tone

The first step toward the next great American novel is the tone set by the writer, for the writer. Of course, the tone in the novel itself is critical as well, but before you can attend to that, you must set the tone and control your writing environment. Six tips to do so:

  1. To organize your thoughts, stage your area with the research you need and the necessary notes.
  2. Adjust the room temperature to your liking.
  3. Consider musical inspiration that is conducive to your writing (or, if you prefer silence, set it up as golden).
  4. Prepare to hydrate and feed your brain with plenty of water and nutrient-rich foods that will nourish you without distracting you.
  5. Find inspiration by selecting something to focus your attention on when you need to pause and gather your thoughts: flowers, rocks, shells, photos . . .
  6. Commit: Set a time and amount of time for daily writing. Set the timer so you can stay the course. Though writing is a creative process, organizing and structuring it releases your mind from worrying about those details and frees you up for creativity.

Ergonomic Tools

Some writers work in an office or library; other prefer to work in nature or in a Starbucks. Regardless of your choice, prepare the tools of your trade and always consider tools that are kind to your health and well-being. For example:

  • A laptop: more transportable than a desktop computer, a laptop is a must for any writer who plans on crafting away from the office or home.
  • A monitor: in addition to a laptop, having a stationary monitor at your main writing desk is being kind to your neck.
  • A monitor arm: additional optimization of height placement is added TLC for your neck (after all, you neck holds your head and your head holds your novel!)
  • A keyboard and mouse: also for when you are at your desk, peripherals will improve your posture (see below). Always set the speed of your mouse to the faster options to minimize required mouse movements. You can find this setting under your system preferences.
  • A footrest: keep your feet flat and supported with a footrest that is between 2-6 inches if your desk is 29” and you are 5’7” or shorter.
  • A document holder: give your neck a needed (and deserved) break by positioning any research notes at an easy to read angle. This will raise the angle of your neck and allow you to relax those neck muscles.

Ergonomic Tricks

In addition to empowering yourself with the right tools, there are some tricks to keep in mind. These practices are easy to implement and have great effect on your health and stress levels.

  • If your wrists rest on the edge of your desk, raise your chair, get your feet propped, or lower your desk. A keyboard tray is also a good option, as long as you make sure there’s enough room for both your keyboard and mouse.
  • If you have a lot of writing to do, some easy exercises will help: shake out your hands, clasp your hands together and reach out in front of you for a good stretch. Then get back to creativity.
  • If you invest in a fully adjustable chair, make sure you are using it well. Lock in the back tilt angle for upright back support and ensure that the seat cushion has 2-4 fingers between back of knees and front edge of seat.
  • Try standing sometimes. If you have a sit/stand desk, alternate between those options. If not, set yourself up to stand for a chapter or two per day. When you stand you access the most creative part of your brain.
  • Vary your work area: try writing from the couch, the desk, a coffee shop, your kitchen counter, or on a porch.
  • Take breaks. Try placing your printer in another room to force yourself to get up from time to time.

Ergonomic Posture

Probably the most effective change you can make (and possibly also the easiest) is to your posture. Remember these 3 pointers:

  1. Sit so that your knees are level with your hips and your elbows are level with your wrists.
  2. Your shoulders should be rested naturally; your neck and head upright and supported.
  3. Exercises are essential: do shoulder circles (5 forward, then 5 back), and neck circles, and always remember to breathe!

Be Healthy; Be Inspired

Setting yourself up with the tone, the tools, the tricks, and the posture will do wonders for your physical and mental health. And, when you feel well, you will write well. Writing a novel is a journey; these best practices will empower you to make that journey a comfortable, healthy, and enjoyable one.

For more information about optimizing your workstation, read this post.

Happy National Novel Writing Month! May your writing always be inspired and inspiring.

 

About Karen Burke

Karen is the founder and president of Kare Products, specializing in active ergonomic solutions. She has 30 years experience in ergonomic product design and consulting.

Kare ergonomic chair

Testimonial of the month – NYC CEO on the Kare Chair

Some testimonials just have to stay anonymous. It might lack the warm human touch, but we’ll compensate with some inside info to our products, which hopefully will be very useful to you.

Background: One of our clients is a high profile, Manhattan based international corporation, who has used our fully adjustable ergonomic chairs for over 10 years. Their CEO wanted to get a chair for his newly designed home office.

Reality: This CEO could get any high-end designer chair on the market, but nothing would support his back the way our Kare chair did. It was the only chair that would address his physical concerns and that was what he was using in his executive office day in and day out.

Details: He chose our model 817L Kare Chair because it was the exact type of back support he needed. It was a combination of chair design, the shape of the back and the function of the back, which included the seat depth adjustment, the right combination of medical grade foam, the back angle tilt adjustment and the dial in lumbar adjustment that worked together synergistically, to bring him comfort, and support his health when sitting for so many hours. A high-end customized fabric was selected to match his home décor (wife approved).

Conclusion: We are proud that we were able to make a difference to the quality of his life. That speaks volumes for the design of this chair and our gratitude for dedicated customers like this.

We always value customer testimonials and feedback, just send us a line @ info@kareproducts.com

 

About Karen Burke

Karen is the founder and president of Kare Products, specializing in active ergonomic solutions. She has 30 years experience in ergonomic product design and consulting.