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.
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
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!
Our 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
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
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!
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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.