Tips for Computer Users

Repetitive and prolonged use of a computer keyboard and/or mouse can lead to muscle aches and discomfort. Posture and positioning are important. 
Try to incorporate the following tips into your work style to avoid problems.

  • Sit all the way back in the chair. You should make full contact the backrest starting at the hips and up through the middle back. Many modern backrests will begin to tapper away as the backrest extends toward the upper back, however you should have continuous support up to the shoulder blades.
  • Support your feet on the floor or on a footrest. The ball of your foot through to the heal should be firmly supported.
  • Knees and hips should be at about the same height. Hips can be slightly above the knees if prefered. 
  • Keep your elbows in a slightly open angle (90° to 100°) with your forearms and wrists straight and level to the keyboard. The keyboard tilt can help you attain the correct arm position. A negative tilt (front of keyboard higher than back) helps when working in an upright sitting posture. If you recline, a positive tilt (front of the keyboard lower than the back) might be necessary.
  • Keep the mouse and keyboard within close reach.
  • Center the most frequently used section of the keyboard directly in front of you. 
  • Center the monitor in front of you at arm's length distance and position the top third of the monitor at eye level. You should be able to view the screen without turning side to side, or tilting your head up and down.
  • Place documents on a document holder. The document holder should be placed in alignment with your monitor and keyboard. If there is not enough space, place documents on an elevated surface next to your monitor.
  • Float your arms above the keyboard and keep your wrist straight and level with typing.
  • If you use a palmrest, use it to rest your palms when pausing, not as a support when typing.
  • Hit the keyboard keys with light force. The average user types harder than necessary.
  • Keep your hands relaxed when using your mouse.
  • Don't hold the mouse with a tight grip or float your fingers above the buttons.
  • Avoid moving the mouse with your thumb or wrist. Movement should originate at your shoulder and elbow.
  • Reduce keystrokes with macros and software programs such as voice recognition. Reduce pointing device movement with scroll locks and keystroke combinations.
  • The screen font, contrast, pointer size, speed, and color can be adjusted to maximize comfort and efficiency.
  • Place your monitor away from bright lights and windows. Use an glare filter when necessary.
  • Take eye breaks and intermittently refocus on distant objects. Try palming your eyes in your hands to reduce eye fatigue.
  • Take short breaks every hour by getting up to go to the printer, get water, or speak with a colleague.  
  • Get up and walk around for at least 5 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.
  • Sitting on your wallet may cause pain, tingling, and numbness in the gluteal muscles. Any pelvic tilt caused by your wallet may also lead to imbalanced muscle strain in your back and hips.
  • To relieve pain associated with wallet-related imbalances, carefully stretch your hamstrings and hip muscles. Also consider the Piriformis Stretch to focus on your deeper gluteal muscles. 
  • Non-prectiptive wrist splints can often be more harmful than helpful. If you begin to develop symptoms, seek help.
  • Early intervention can prevent future problems.
  • Stay in shape by stretching and exercising regularly. Stretches and exercises can be found on our website.