Running my business from my home office with a seven month old has forced me to modify how I work. Instead of spending hours in front of my desktop computer up in my office, I am grabbing fifteen minutes here and there on my smart phone and tablet whenever and where ever I can .This change in working behaviour has brought with it new aches and pains that no APP (that I can find) will fix.
With devices getting smaller and more portable to keep up with the busy lifestyles we lead, the physical demands have changed but the work related aches and pains have followed. Repetitive Strain Injuries are common and our busy fingers, thumbs, and wrists are taking the heat. Here are a few tips to reduce discomfort and increase productivity in our tech savvy day:
- Pain in the thumb-Thumb pain can be related to texting with the thumb when holding the mobile device in the same hand. Instead hold the phone in one hand use index finger of the opposite hand with full arm movements, so you are not making small repetitive movements with the finger. Of course this might mean you will have to put down your coffee.
- Pain in the neck -Instead of holding the phone to your ear with neck flexed to the side, use the Hands Free option, unless you are listening to a co-worker vent about your jerk of a boss, when he is sitting in your office.
- Pain in the neck-The portability of a tablet far surpasses the ergonomics. To use a tablet, you either hold it in your hands or set it on a table/desk to use. The nature of its design requires that you flex your neck down to view. When possible, bring your tablet up closer to your eye level to reduce upper back and neck pain, and don’t use your tablet on your tummy while lying in bed, as your neck will surely be flexed and you might just fall asleep waiting for a cat video to load.
Pain in the eyes- When reading web content on your device, the continous scrolling requires that you read moving text, for some this can causes eye strain or headaches, and if you are me....motion sickness. Scroll down and read the whole screen before you scroll again. Virtual vertigo can feel very real!
- Pain in the eyes- If you wear glasses, but don’t always have them on, you may have trouble reading the font on your phone. Go to your settings and increase the size of the font so you can leave your glasses where you lost them.
- Look for “short cut” key combinations to reduce the number of keystrokes or button pushing on your phone or tablet or use voice activation when you can, to dial a contact, or search the web for delivery options at 11 pm, because you just realized you haven’t taken you r eyes off your device since you got home from work.
- Wrist pain- Using a touch on-screen keyboard on a tablet is slow and requires that your wrists be extended (bent up) to type on the screen in front of you. To reduce wrist pain, get a tablet cover with WIFI keyboard, and make writing long emails, reports or editing your kid’s resume so he will actually get a job and move out someday.
There seems to be an APP for everything, but until someone comes up with one that will help us tweak our tech behavior to prevent injuries, we might want to listen to our bodies whispers of discomfort before they become screams of agony.
Marnie Courage OT Reg. (MB)
Owner of Enabling Access