Monday, December 01, 2008

Computer Ergonomics 101

Tips for ergonomic computer use ...

"It amazes me to this day how many people are unaware to basic tenets of ergonomics concerning daily computer
use.

Ergonomics as it pertains to you is to use your computer in a way that minimizes any damage to your body, hearing or vision in any way.

Instead of getting into all the technical crapola about it, I’ll instead just do simply question/answer style.

Hard chair or soft chair?

Hard chair with straight back. Promotes better posture. If you lean (forward or backward) when you sit at your computer, this is bad. Sit up straight like your mother taught you to.

Cushion on the seat portion is fine, but the back should be firm and straight.

Arm rests or not?

Not. Arm rests are mighty comfy but you’ll find yourself leaning on them often. When you lean to the left or right you’re not sitting straight obviously.

Keyboard wrist rest or not?

On a desktop, yes. On a laptop, no.

The keyboard on a desktop is free-standing and has a drop-off below the spacebar. Without the rest you have lean in your wrists. This is bad. The wrists and hands should be level with each other.

Laptops have a built-in rest because below the keyboard is the trackpad and the space on either side that acts as a rest.

Mouse wrist rest or not?

Yes. Keeps the wrist level with the hand with minimal lean.

"Ergonomically designed" mouse or not?

What’s most important is the mouse rest more than the mouse itself. However I would recommend using full-sized mice and not "mini" mice (such as the external travel kind used on laptops). When you use a mini-mouse you’re pinching instead of resting the palm. That pinching results in a repetitive movement that may cause pain.

If you’re stuck for what to choose, the Microsoft Intellimouse is still the standard. I know some people will vehemently disagree with me on that choice, but the plain fact of the matter is that Microsoft makes awesome mice. Logitech comes in at a close second.

"Ergonomically designed" keyboard or not?

Depends if you can get past the "weirdness" of those funky-shaped keyboards.

I will say this: If you do use one, it is better for you. Additionally, once again Microsoft makes the best ergonomic keyboard. DO NOT buy a discount ergo-board. Even their cheap one is still a good ‘board.

Personally speaking I prefer "short profile" keys (i.e. a laptop keyboard with a very light touch). Much less strain on the fingers but only for the touch-typist variety such as myself. If you’re not a touch-typist, go for the big keys on the Microsoft ‘board."    (Continued via PCMech, Rich Menga)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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