COMPUTERS AND LIFESTYLE PROBLEMS
Long periods of working at a computer can increase the chance of developing an injury. Muscle and joint pain, overuse injuries of the upper limbs and eyestrain can result from inappropriate computer use. The risks can be reduced or eliminated with proper work space design, improved posture and good working habits.
• Back and neck pain, headaches, and shoulder and arm pain are common computer-related injuries. • Such muscle and joint problems can be caused or made worse by poor workstation design, bad posture and sitting for extended periods of time.
• Although sitting requires less muscular effort, it still causes fatigue and requires parts of the body to be held steady for long periods of time. • This reduces circulation to the muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments and can result in stiffness and pain. • If a workstation is not set up properly, these steady positions can put even greater stress on muscles and joints.
The Most Common Computer-Related Injuries To Watch Out For
• Though it may sound strange that sitting with little or no muscular effort can fatigue you, one can indeed get very fatigued from computer use. Being immobile impedes effective blood circulation and can therefore result in stiffness and pain. • Back and neck pain, arm and shoulder pain are the commonest and can owe themselves to bad sitting posture or bad ergonomic furniture design or placement that causes such bad posture.
• Eyestrain is another obvious problem that can occur due to extended computer use. • Focusing on the same thing at the same distance for long lengths of time is fatiguing for the eye muscles. Dryness of the eyes can be caused by insufficient blinking and consequently inadequate lubrication. • Staring at an illuminated surface is also fatiguing; much the same as watching TV for long periods. While this may not actually damage your eyesight, blurring, difficulty in focusing and refocusing or peripheral or distant objects and developing headaches are commonly occurring problems from eyestrain.
OVER USE OF THE UPPER LIMBS:
• Repetitive movements that computer use entails and awkward postures can contribute to overuse injury. This can result in swelling, pain, stiffness of joints as well as feelings of numbness and weakness in the hands, the elbows or wrist areas. • Laptop Related Injuries: Laptops, though tremendously convenient and swiftly replacing desktops as one’s principal computer, were essentially designed as an alternative to a desktop for when one could not be reached.
• Laptop use can cause a number of problems because it can constrict and cramp you and your movements, it can cause the screen to be too near your eyes, and so can result in higher levels of physical stress and injury than a desktop. Carting around a heavy laptop bag can also be stressful.
REPETITIVE STRESS INJURIES
• Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) are conditions caused by placing too much stress on a joint, and they vary in type and severity. • Most RSIs are linked to the stress of repetitive motions at the computer or overuse injuries in sports. • An RSI occurs when stress is placed on a joint, pulling on the tendons and muscles around the joint. • When the stress occurs repeatedly, the body does not have time to recover and becomes irritated.
Computer Injuries Include: HANDS & WRISTS
CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME: Swelling inside a narrow "tunnel" formed by bone and ligament in the wrist; the tunnel surrounds nerves that conduct sensory and motor impulses to and from the hand, leading to pain, tingling, and numbness. EPICONDYLITIS: Elbow soreness often called "tennis elbow“ GANGLION CYST: Swelling or lump in the wrist resulting from jelly-like substance that has leaked from a joint or tendon sheath.
REFLEX SYMPATHETIC DYSTROPHY: A condition characterized by dry, swollen hands and loss of muscle control; consistently painful. TENDONITIS: Tearing and inflammation of tendons connecting bones to muscles.
COMPUTER RELATED SHOULDER INJURIES
Over the tendon is a bursa (small sack of fluid
used to help lubricate the moving tendon). This
bursa can become pinched or compressed,
much like the tendons of the rotator cuff as detailed above. This pinching of the bursa causes pain and inflammation.
FROZEN SHOULDER :
It is a condition in which the capsule and ligaments
surrounding the shoulder joint become overstressed, inflammed and develop excessive scarring or thickness, thus significantly limiting the functional range of motion or mobility of the arm. In the majority of these
conditions, there is no direct trauma, the condition and
inflammation occurs over time.
EXERCISES FOR SHOULDER INJURIES
• ARM CIRCLES
Arm circles provide a short respite from stagnant keyboarding
positions, and boost blood flow to tight shoulder muscles. Stand tall, extend your arms out to the sides with your palms facing the floor, so you resemble a "T." Inhale, and slowly roll your shoulders backward, feeling your shoulder blades rotate.
• AIRPLANE STRETCH
This stretch can alleviate muscle tightness in the chest,
ribcage, and anterior shoulders. Stand or sit up straight, with your arms hanging at your sides. Inhale, and stick your chest out as far as you can. Stretch your arms backwards as far as possible, with your elbows straight and palms facing the floor, as if pretending to be an airplane.
• SHOULDER STRETCHES
Target all the muscles of the shoulders and upper arms by
stretching them at three distinct angles. First, stretch the back of the shoulder. With your right elbow bent slightly bring your right arm in front of you. Use your left hand to grab the back of your right upper arm, and pull it across your chest. Hold a
comfortable stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat with the
EXERCISES FOR HAND & WRIST INJURIES
• Extend both arms straight from the shoulders in front of you with your hands relaxed. Slowly flex your hands upward to make a “stop” motion. Hold
for a count of five, then relax again.
• Now make a tight fist with both hands. Slowly
bend the wrists downward with fists closed. Hold
for a count of five, then relax.
• Bring the arms back in front of you and flip upside down with palms now facing up. Use one hand to gently bend back the fingers of the other. Hold for a count of five, then switch.
EXERCISES FOR NECK INJURIES
• SIDEWAYS STRETCHES Sideways neck stretches allow you to flex muscles that may become rigid after hours of sitting with your head pointed straight ahead. These exercises begin with your head positioned so your nose points straight ahead, parallel to the floor. As you turn your head slowly to the right
shoulder, the left neck muscles are stretched.
• VERTICAL STRETCHES
Vertical stretches help to flex neck muscles that do not get
frequent use when working at a computer. As you lift the chin
slowly toward the ceiling, you can feel the stretch on the front
of your neck. In any neck exercise, never force the head's motion beyond what feels relaxed. Hold your head pointed toward the ceiling for up to 30 seconds, then return to the starting position.
• CIRCULAR ROTATIONS
The sideways and vertical neck stretches can be
combined in a circular exercise. This is often done
after the prior two stretches are completed
EXERCISES FOR BACK INJURIES
• Forward BendBenefits: Releases tension in the lower back, elongates the spine. • Step 1: Sit comfortably on the chair, feet parallel and resting on the floor. Place hands on the knees, elongate the spine and the back of the neck. Step 2: Bend forward from the hips, leading with the front of the body. Release hands onto the floor, resting the chest on the knees.
• Spinal Twist Benefits: Stretches the muscles of the spinal column relieving tension or tightness, nourishes the spinal nerves, opens the chest. • Step1: Sit on a chair, your weight slightly forwards. Do not collapse the back of your waist but sit up tall, so that the front of your body is stretched and your chest is open.
• Step 2: Then, without moving your hips, twist to the right and hold the back of the chair seat with your right hand, putting the back of your left hand against your right thigh. Keep your knees in line with your hips. As you turn, drop your shoulders, letting your spine stretch up from the hips. Hold for 30 seconds, relax and repeat on the other side.