By Deborah Rothberg  |  Posted 2006-06-02 Print this article Print

Young does not recommend that people rely on external lumbar support except in cases where obesity or physical problems leave the individual no other options. "A lot of newer chairs were designed to support the lumbar region in the lower back. But, the body is strong enough to support itself," said Young.
Young instead suggests that people sit all the way back in their chair so that their sacrum touches the chairs back.
"When you do this, your pelvis and back are aligned properly and it allows you to move easily in the chair," said Young. Rogers approaches seating positions differently, dismissing the popular notion that elbows and knees should rest at 90-degree angles. "Think it terms of open angles. Instead of sitting with your legs at a 90-degree angle, try a 110-degree angle. Keep your elbow at 110-degree angle to your hand," said Rogers. While everyone sits at a computer differently, men and women tend to fall into gender-specific posture traps. "Men tend to be low writers. They like their chairs lower, and to sit back in them, and they need to learn to sit higher. Men strain their arms and wrists when they sit too low. Women are perchers—they sit away from the backrests and at the edge of their seats. Women tend to slouch because theyre so far away from their back support," said Rogers. Use Equipment Correctly When most people think of ergonomics, they think of wrist rests. Yet, even these long pieces of padding that are nearly standard in office settings are widely misused. "Wrist rest is a very unfortunate term because the general public thinks that it means theyre supposed to rest their wrist on it. Theres no protective fat under your wrist, and resting on this unprotected area could cause contact stress. I would be happier if they were called palm rests," said Read. None of the specialists suggested that people throw their wrist rests out the window, however. "Wrist rests were designed for resting between spells of typing, not during typing… The killer combination is lazy typing and cold hands, suggestive of a smaller carpal tunnel. These two factors together almost guarantee that you will get a wrist or arm injury," said Rogers. Check out columnist Jeff Angus Management by Baseball, the IT managers "how-to" playbook. Click here. Each of the specialists referenced pianists when discussing the proper way to hold your hands and wrists when you type. Pianists use their fingers to hit keys, but keep their wrists raised and arms engaged, and hit the keys with their fingertips alone. "The worst setup is the keyboard on the keyboard tray [and] the mouse up on the desk surface. It leads to reaching injuries," said Rogers. Adjust Your Monitor Most people have their monitor height set too high, or worse, lack the ability to lower it. Read suggested that people sit squarely in front of their computer screens with their feet flat to make adjustments. "Your horizontal line of sight should hit the first one to two inches of the screen itself. When you need to look lower, you should use your eyeballs and not your neck." Those that wear bifocals should keep their monitors even lower, so that they are always looking at them through the bottom of their eyeglasses, "without dropping their heads," said Read. Next Page: Use special equipment.


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