Computer Related Strain

Relief for Computer Related Strain header
Many employees spend the bulk of their eight-hour workday in front of a computer.  If you are among those who must use a computer to accomplish most of your work, take a few moments to review and practice some simple exercises to help prevent and relieve muscle tension.

How to Stretch
Stretching should be done slowly without bouncing. Stretch to where you feel a slight, easy stretch. Hold this feeling for 5-20 seconds. As you hold this stretch, the feeling of tension should diminish. If it doesn't, just ease off slightly into a more comfortable stretch. The easy stretch reduces tension and readies the tissues for the developmental stretch.

After holding the easy stretch, you can move a fraction of an inch farther into the stretch until you feel mild tension again. This the developmental stretch which should be held for 10-15 seconds. This feeling of stretch tension should also slightly diminish or stay the same. If the tension increases or becomes painful, you are overstretching. Ease off a bit to a comfortable stretch. The developmental stretch reduces tension and will safely increase flexibility.

Hold only stretch tensions that feel good to you. The key to stretching is to be relaxed while you concentrate on the area being stretched. Your breathing should be slow, deep and rhythmical. Don't worry about how far you can stretch, stretch relaxed and limberness will become just one of the many byproducts of regular stretching. If you have had any recent surgery, muscle, or joint problem, please consult your personal health care professional before starting a stretching or exercise program.

Finger Stretches
Separate and straighten your fingers until tension of a stretch is felt. Hold for 10 seconds. Relax, then bend your fingers at the knuckles and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat finger stretch once more.

Forward Head Tilt
Gently tilt your head forward to stretch the back of the neck. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times. Hold only tensions that feel good. Do not stretch to the point of pain. 

Shoulder Stretch
With fingers interlaced behind head, keep elbows straight out to side with upper body in a good aligned position. Now pull your shoulder blades toward each other to create a feeling of tension through upper back and shoulder blades. Hold this feeling of mild tension for 8-10 seconds, then relax. Do several times. This is good to do when shoulders and upper back are tense or tight.

Side Head Tilt
Start with head in a comfortable, aligned position. Slowly tilt head to left side to stretch muscles on side of neck. Hold stretch for 10-20 seconds. Feel a good, even stretch. Do not overstretch. Then tilt head to right side and stretch. Do 2-3 times to each side. 

Side Stretch
Hold left elbow with right hand, then gently pull elbow behind head until an easy tension-stretch is felt in shoulder or back of upper arm (triceps). Hold easy stretch for 30 seconds. Do not overstretch. Do both sides. 

A stretch for the side of hip, lower and middle of back. Sit with left leg bent over right leg, then rest elbow or forearm of right arm on the outside of the upper thigh of the left leg. Now apply some controlled, steady pressure toward the right with the elbow or forearm. As you do this look over your left shoulder to get the stretch feeling. Do both sides. Hold for 15 seconds.

Upward Arm Stretches
Interlace fingers then turn palms upwards above your head as you straighten your arms. Think of elongating your arms as yo feel a stretch through arms and uppers sides of rib cage. Hold for 10-20 seconds. Hold only stretches that feel releasing. Do three times.

Eye Strain Relief
Reduce eyestrain associated with prolonged computer use, by taking vision breaks to relax your eye muscles at least every hour, or more often.
  • Change focus to give eye muscles a chance to relax.
  • Periodically glance across the room, or out of the window.
  • Look at an object at least 20 feet away.
  • Roll or blink your eyes at frequent intervals.
  • Close your eyes tightly for a few seconds, then resume work.
Other Things You Can Do

Control your Lighting

Adjust the position of your task lighting (such as from a desk lamp) to maximize illumination while minimizing glare on the computer screen. Control the source of glare on your computer screen by closing window blinds, turning off hallway lights, and repositioning task lighting. Use a monitor glare screen or hood, change your monitor position and tilt, and adjust your brightness/contrast controls to minimize the effects of glare on your screen.

Accommodate Your Vision
Try the following to improve visual comfort while working with computers:
  • Position your monitor at a comfortable distance, usually 18" to 24" away
  • Position your monitor at the proper height, at or just below eye level
  • Clean your monitor screen regularly to reduce eye fatigue
  • Use glasses designed for computer use, especially if you use bifocals to read
  • If you wear bifocals, position the monitor so that you do not tilt you head back to view the screen
  • Have your eyes checked regularly (once a year)
  • When using a portable computer, be sure to open the screen to a comfortable viewing angle
  • If you use a portable computer, remember to alter your position and take frequent breaks 
Carpal Tunnel Relief
Help relieve compression of the median nerve in the wrist by taking frequent, brief breaks from typing or other repetitive wrist motions.  
Learn relief exercises:
For more information on ergonomics,
contact Amy Hayes @ (517) 285-2412 in the
DLEG Rehabilitation Services Accommodation Center.
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