Ergonomics - Back & Neck care

Musculoskeletal Problems -

Muscle soreness and muscle fatigue are the most common complaints of regular computer users. Back pain, chest pain, pain or numbness in arms, shoulder and feet top the list. These types of problems mainly occur because your posture while using the computer is not correct. Either you are sitting on an uncomfortable chair or your workstation is not supportive of correct posture.

Practical tips

  • Adjust your chair and desk such that your screen is either at your eye level or lower. Sit with your back straight and legs perpendicular to the floor with feet resting flat on the floor. Your elbows should rest at the sides.
  • Take mini breaks from work and stretch a bit or go for a short walk.
Repetitive Stress Injury -

Pain in the neck, shoulder, or anywhere from the shoulder to fingers may indicate repetitive stress injury. When you use your muscles in an awkward position, you may experience stiffness, pain or swelling in that area. For example, twisting the wrist to use the mouse or specific typing technique that causes stretching of fingers or pressure on the wrist can turn really painful. One of the commonest disorders that affect the fingers and wrist is carpal tunnel syndrome.

Practical Tips :

  • Adjust the mouse besides the keyboard. Move your entire arm, while moving the mouse. Don’t just move your wrist by fixing it at one position. Typing should be gentle. Do not fix your wrists in a certain position while typing.
  • Relax your arms or stretch when you are not typing or using the mouse.
  • Using braces to prevent or treat the problems.
How to Sit at a Computer ?

  • Regular computer users perform 50,000 to 200,000 keystrokes each day. Under certain circumstances and for vulnerable individuals, frequent computer use that involves awkward postures, repetition, and forceful exertions may be related to nerve, muscle, tendon, and ligament damage.
  • If you use a computer extensively (several hours each day),we recommend that you consider proper workstation layout and posture techniques to minimize your risk of developing injuries of the hand/arm, shoulder, neck, and back.
  • Overuse injuries develop over time, and may set in more quickly if you spend long hours sitting at a computer at home, as well as at work.


Symptoms in the affected area can include :
  • Pain
  • Tightness
  • Dull ache
  • Throbbing
  • Numbness
  • You may also develop general aches and pains in the neck, shoulders, arms, back, thighs, and lower legs (postural fatigue) or persistent pain or discomfort in muscles, tendons, and other soft tissue -Repetitive strain injury.

Injury Prevention

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Avoid most computer-related overuse injuries.
We suggest that to reduce your risk :
  • Use a properly set-up workstation.
  • Use correct posture including keyboard and pointing device techniques.
  • And most importantly, take frequent rest breaks.

Posture, Keyboard, and Pointing Techniques

When you use a properly set-up workstation, you can sit at the computer in a natural (neutral), relaxed position that may help reduce your risk of developing musculoskeletal injuries :
  • Spine : Ears are in line with tops of shoulders, and shoulders in line with hips.
  • Shoulders : Upper arms hang relaxed and close to the body.
  • Wrists : Hands are in straight lines with lower arms.

Keyboarding and pointing techniques :

  • Keep your fingers relaxed while typing and using a mouse.
  • Use a soft touch on the keyboard instead of pounding keys with unnecessary force.
  • Grasp the mouse gently.
  • Avoid holding a pen or anything else in your hands while you type or use the mouse.

Additional tips :

  • Don't rest your elbows on hard surfaces.
  • Rest your eyes occasionally by focusing on distant objects (i.e., look out a window)

Frequent Rest Breaks -

The body is not designed to sit still, even in correct position, for long periods of time. Some individuals find that using a computer extensively can cause discomfort, so regular pauses are not a waste of time. Change your seated position occasionally, stand up or stretch whenever you start to feel tired. Depending upon your work and environment, you may want to take breaks.
Basic stretching exercises can help keep limber the joints and muscles you use when you sit at a computer. Some examples:

  • General : Stand up and stretch your arms over your head.
  • Neck : Tilt your head to one side (ear to shoulder); hold; relax; repeat on other side.
  • Shoulders : Slowly bring shoulders up to the ears and hold briefly.
  • Wrist : Hold arm straight out in front of you; pull hand backwards with other hand, then pull downward; hold; relax; repeat with other hand.
Using Laptop Computers -

Some individuals may find the design of a laptop computer is inherently problematic because the screen and keyboard are not in separate places. When you use a laptop, either your head/neck bends to see the screen, or your hands/wrists use poor posture at the keyboard.
If you use a laptop frequently, consider buying either an external monitor or an external keyboard to improve the workstation set-up. If you use a laptop only occasionally, you may find that positioning the computer in your lap for the most neutral wrist posture is most comfortable.

Correct postures while using a computer »

Different Types of Body Movements »