A Pain in the Neck

Humanscale Monitor ArmHow much time do you spend in front of your computer? I seem to live in front of mine. I work there, shop there, and play there. The plus side is that I hardly ever watch TV but the dark side is neck pain. Sitting in front of the TV may not be exactly healthy–as opposed to walking a couple of miles or marching in the dreaded treadmill–but at least I do it in a comfortable position. The computer is interactive and therefore more intelligent but the little body parts that do the interacting usually get abused in the process. Computer ergonomics was once only the concern of workplaces that feared disability claims but now it is yours and mine. Or it should be anyway. It is extrmely important to pay attention to little aches and pains and the neck and hands and deal with them fast. I spoke to Professor Alan Hedge, PhD, CPE, Director of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory at Cornell about this very topic (and I cover it fully in my upcoming book). He has done gobs of studies on computers and the bodies that use them and here is the gist: You can do yourself serious, expensive, irreperable, harm by continuing to work all twisted up and uncomfortable even if your laptop seems to offer you no choice. “The biggest mistake people make with computers,” says Hedge. “Is not thinking at all about how their body fits with them. It is much cheaper to invest in some ergonomic equipment so that your workstation fits some basic ergonomic guildelines than it is to repair damageonce it is done. I have seen some aggressive prices lately at some Web merchants (though I have not purchased there) on Humanscale’s gorgeous monitor arms and keyboard trays. I am also getting a review unit in of this spanking new keyboard tray that Professor Hedge recommended from Canadian Company Jasper Designs. I will report back as soon as I have tried it out. 

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