Healthy Practices

If you use computers on a daily basis at home or as part of your job, you may experience some unwelcomed aspect of their overuse. Namely eye strains, muscle tensions, injuries and related problems that comes with tapping at a keyboard and staring at a screen all day. However, with some simple precautions and proper typing techniques, we can reduce, if not remove these negative concerns all together. It is therefore better to learn proper habits from the outset so that we do not encounter these afflictions in the first place.

By following these good, healthy practices and advice, you will hopefully reduce the build-up of tensions and fatigue in the muscles while typing. You will noticed that with improved health and less tensions your concentration can remain high and your overall learning experience will become much more enjoyable.

Sitting Postures

Back pain can be a common problem for many people who works with computers. Usually because of long hours spent sitting at the desk without a break and with poor postures. The golden rule is to sit up straight and support your back well in a good chair. Make sure your lower back is supported well. Get one which can be adjusted and tilted if possible so that it can provide a more personalised adjustments.

Make sure your feets rests on the floor or supported by on a footrest if necessary. Crossing your legs is not ideal as this can lead to poor circulations which can lead to other posture problems.

Hand Positions

As mentioned in the Basic Typing Lessons your fingers should rest nicely on the keyboard with a slight natural curl to the fingers. Your wrist should not be overtly angled towards the thumb or the little fingers. Instead it should be relatively aligned with your elbows and general direction of your fingers. Some ergonomic keyboards are purposely designed with a seperation to allow the wrist to be more naturally aligned.

Most keyboards have height adjustment legs which you can use to vary the angle of the keyboard, but remember not to make the wrist bend upward too much. Poor hand positions can lead to common Repetive Strain Injuries (RSI) - which is covered further down the page.

Adjust Your Monitor

To reduce eye strains, your monitor should be adjusted to the correct distance so that it is at a comfortable distance without you needing to squint your eyes. Generally the ideal distance is around 15-25 inches from your eyes but the rule of thumb is whatever you find comfortable without needing to readjust your positions to focus. The level of the screen should be approximately level to your eyes. If you find that you need to raise the monitor, you can prop it up with something suitable.

You should try and avoid screen reflections and glares. If not you will find that this can produce unnecessarily high strain on your eyes. So if you can ajdust the position of your monitor, then turn it to direction where there is less reflection from sunlight or bright light sources. If this is not possible, you can also get an anti-glare screen. A good screen protector can also reduce the amount of UV (Ultraviolet) rays emitted from your monitors.

Keyboard Distance

Like the monitor, adjust your keyboard to the right distance from you such that your fingers can rest gently on top of the keyboard. If you find that you are having to stretch to reach the keyboard then readjust your seat/body position or move the keyboard closer to you. If your elbow is cramped up and your shoudlers hunched up, then your the keyboard is probably too close which can bring about tensions relatively quick.

Good Lightings

Many of us have a habit of working and using the computers in the dark (I am sure the students amongst you can relate to this even more). Although it can feel quite relaxing to work in the dark, it is not a healthy practice. Working in the darkness produces high contrast between the lights of your room and the brightness of yor screen. As your monitor can produce high variations in contrast, your eyes has to work extra hard to readjust to any changes. This can produce eye strains and is a growing problem for the younger generation as computer usage becomes the norm.

Keep the lights on and at a reasonable brightness level. If you need to, you can turn down the contrast on the screen or move your monitor away from bright light sources.

Preventing Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)

Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) describes the pain & symptoms caused by prolonged, high intensity, repetitive movements. For typist and users of computers & keyboards, the pains may occur in the hands, wrist, fingers, arms, neck and shoulders. The type of pain can vary from person to person but can be a shooting pain that runs along the lines of the hand. Appearing intermittently, relief can be gained by resting the hands but can reoccur when you return to the activity of typing and mouse usage. If not properly rested, the symptoms can be quite debilitating and become chronic for some people.

To avoid and prevent RSI, do adhere to all the tips mentioned previously and rest your hands when you feel any pain. There are special ergonomic keyboards, mice and computer aids which will reduce the risks and relieve the symptoms.

Not Forgetting The Mouse

The computer mouse can be used just as often as your keyboard if not more so. When using the mouse, try not to grip it too tightly as this can lead to tensions building up in the hands and potentially can cause RSI. Where possible, use the whole arm to move the mouse rather than just the wrist, this reduces stresses to the wrist alone.

Take Lots Of Breaks & Rest Your Eyes

If at any time during your typing sessions you feel any pain, tinglings in the hands or tensions, then listen to your body and stop! Rest frequently, it is the best prevention for RSI and unnecessary injuries. If you eyes becomes tired, do the same, take a break from your computer screen or close your eyes for a few minutes. You may find it quite relaxing. Continuous computer work can be the most unhealthiest way to work and in the long run can be counterproductive and reduce your productivity. Take care of yourself and you will find learning to type can be so much more easier.