Diseases Caused By Computers Are Costly

We usually don’t think of computer work as heavy labor. If you lay bricks or hang drywall for a living, you know that you’d better maintain strength and fitness to prevent injuries. If you point, click, and clatter over a keyboard all day, this isn’t so obvious.

We tend to live our working lives from the neck up. We become aware of our bodies at work only when they hurt. The problem is, it’s much tougher to fix a problem than to prevent it – and that involves heeding our bodies’ early warning signs, such as pain, numbness, or tingling.

Unfortunately, many people don’t heed their pains soon enough. Each year, 1.8 million workers in the United States suffer from musculoskeletal disorders (another term for repetitive strain injury, or RSI), and 600,000 of these people lose work time as a result, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

This sets employers back $20 billion per year in direct costs, such as worker’s compensation payments, with additional costs (for retraining and hiring new workers) totaling $60 billion. Then there’s the incalculable cost of a deteriorated quality of life. Just check how many times people were looking online for causes of computer-related illness!

So don’t wait until you hurt. Get up and stretch when you first feel fatigue. But remember that while frequent stretches and posture adjustments throughout the day will help prevent injury, this is not a cure for existing conditions. If you feel persistent pain in the wrists, arms, shoulders, neck, or back, ask your primary physician to refer you to an occupational therapist. And if you think your injury is work-related, file for workers’ compensation sooner rather than later – it could save your wallet as well as your body. Veterans should pay attention as well.

Don’t just sit there!

The following exercises are designed to address forward-head, rounded-shoulders posture. As gravity and age combine to pull us forward, these or similar exercises should be part of a lifetime regimen to maintain an upright, aligned posture. None of the exercises should produce pain or discomfort. Try to perform these exercises at least twice per day, but think about adjusting your posture with “mini [chin and scapular] tucks” all day long.

When working at the computer, concentrate on keeping your weight off your arms: do not lean on your arms or wrists and don’t reach with your hands. Rather, position your arms by using your shoulder and scapular muscles. Try to maintain full back contact with your chair to prevent slouching and leaning forward onto your arms.

Try to perform these exercises at least twice per day, but think about adjusting your posture with “mini [chin and scapular] tucks” all day long. When working at the computer, concentrate on keeping your weight off your arms: do not lean on your arms or wrists and don’t reach with your hands. Rather, position your arms by using your shoulder and scapular muscles. Try to maintain full back contact with your chair to prevent slouching and leaning forward onto your arms.


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