Tips to Avoid Neck and Shoulder Pain, Eyestrain and Headaches

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Ergonomic Guidelines for arranging a Computer Workstation - 10 steps for users

Creating a good ergonomic working arrangement is important to protecting your health. The following 10 steps are a brief summary of those things that most Ergonomists agree are important. If you follow the 10 steps they should help you to improve your working arrangement. You can also use the Computer Workstation Checklist to help to pinpoint any areas of concern and take a look at the 'Computer Workstation summary' diagram' for specific tips. However, every situation is different, and if you can't seem to get your arrangement to feel right or you are confused about some of the following recommendations you should seek professional advice.

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Computer Screen Choice and Placement: Ergonomic Tips to Avoid Neck and Shoulder Pain, Eyestrain and Headaches

Do you experience neck and shoulder pain, eyestrain, or headaches after working at your computer for a while? If so, then you may need to make sure you are using the best screen for your needs and position the screen to avoid twisted postures while working. In addition, eyestrain and headaches can be caused by uncorrected vision, poor image quality, screen glare, and by screen viewing distance.

Corrected Vision

Make sure your vision is properly corrected before you make changes to your computer screen set up. Natural changes in vision occur in the early 40's. Periodic eye examinations by a qualified professional are valuable.

Image Quality
Make sure the screen image is sharp - not fuzzy, stable - not jittery or flickering, and bright enough for comfortable viewing. If not, try adjusting the screen brightness, contrast, refresh rate, and resolution to give you the best quality image.

The screen image must be a comfortable viewing size. Most software programs allow you to magnify your screen content to a comfortable size. If screen content is too small (or large), then select a different font size or use the zoom function.

Screen Glare

The screen should be free from any bright reflections (specular glare) and the screen image should not appear to be 'washed out' (veiling glare). To avoid glare, you might need to reposition the screen, wear darker clothes, dim the overhead lights, or use an antiglare filter to cover the screen.

Sometimes a hood can be placed around the screen or the screen can be slightly tilted up or down to eliminate the glare. Using a privacy filter on your screen can help because you will only be able to read your screen when you are properly aligned with it.

Viewing Distance
The screen should be at a comfortable horizontal distance for viewing. If you can't position this at a comfortable viewing distance, it is better for the eyes to have the screen too far away and zoom into the content rather than sit too close to the screen. The most comfortable viewing distance is usually is at least an arm's length away from your body.

Avoid Neck and Shoulder Pain

Neck pain can be caused by working in a twisted posture. To eliminate neck twisting, place the computer monitor directly in front and facing you; not at an angle to left or right side. A screen that is too high or low can also cause neck and shoulder strain. You will tilt your head backwards to look up if the screen is too high and crane your neck forwards if too low.

Ideal Screen Position

The ideal vertical position for the screen depends on the size of the screen and the size of the casing around the screen. The most common screen size range is 17" to 19". Using this as an example, your eyes should be in line with an imaginary point on the screen - about 2" below the top of the visible screen image when you are seated comfortably.

Several research studies have confirmed the best position for most users is to have the center of the screen about 17-18 degrees below horizontal for optimal viewing. Flat panel LCD (liquid crystal display) screens are lighter and easier to reposition than cathode-ray tube (CRT) screens.

Corrective Eyewear

If you wear bifocals or progressive lens you may have to make minor adjustments to the screen position. However, if you sit back in your chair in a relaxed, reclined posture and follow the above guidelines, you should be able to see the screen without an awkward neck posture.

Working with Paper Documents
If you also work with paper documents, you should use a document holder that positions the paper so it can be comfortably seen. This might involve using either an in-line document holder that fits between the keyboard and screen; a document holder mounted at the side of the screen; or a freestanding document holder positioned next to the screen and slightly angle closer to you.

Concluding Thoughts ...

Why not try a few of these ergonomic tips at your office or workplace computer setting? You might be surprised to find that by making a few adjustments, working at a computer can be more comfortable and increase your efficiency too!

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