Simple Workplace Exercises to keep you Pain-Free

Exercises

Good posture does not simply mean sitting up straight. Slouching over a computer keyboard all day can create a painful chain reaction throughout your body that can result in shoulder, neck or back pain, if not a combination of all three. Unfortunately, we don’t often feel the warning signs of this gradual wear-and-tear, we only feel the pain at the end of the process.

If sitting is part of your everyday, even if you try to lead an active lifestyle, then you should attempt to combine stretching exercises into your working days or evening: Stretching and Yawning don’t count! Browse the following list, and see if you can spare a few minutes daily to address your posture problems.

Back and Chest Stretching

To stretch your back muscles lie on your back, with knees bent at 90 degrees, and place your calves on the seat of a chair. Straighten your arms out from the shoulders with your palms up. Relax, breathing deeply, letting your low back settle into the floor. Hold the position for 5 minutes.

Ensure to stretch your chest: While in the same position. Lace your fingers, palms together, with your arms extended above your chest toward the ceiling. Extend your arms, keeping your elbows straight, over your head to the floor behind you. Repeat 30 times with a steady, controlled movement, and don’t forget to breathe.

Back to your back. Lie on your back with your feet on the wall and your knees bent less than 90 degrees (Your ‘glutes’ should only be about four to six inches from wall and knees almost touching chest). Lace your fingers behind your head to support your neck. Keep your elbows back while looking at the ceiling. Exhale as you use your stomach muscles to lift your shoulders, elbows and head off the floor then lower. Perform this for 1 minute.

Leg and Knee Exercises

The kneeling hip-flexor stretch: Kneel (preferably on a padded floor). Bring your right knee into a 90 degree angle and push your left leg back so it’s at an angle where you feel stretch in the front of your hip. Keep your legs parallel to each other and place your hands on your right knee and let your hips sink forward to the floor, keeping your upper body straight. Do not lean forward. Hold for 1 minute and switch legs.

Supine hip-flexor stretch: Lie on your back with your right leg bent and resting on a chair at a 90 degree angle. Place your left leg straight on the floor, keeping your toes pointed up so your knee and foot do not roll out. Place your arms straight out from your shoulders with your palms up.

Breathe deeply and relax your body. Remain in this position for 10 minutes, then repeat on your other side.

The ‘Air bench’: Sit against the wall with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees bent at 90 degrees, heels straight under or slightly in front (not behind) of your knees. Keep your feet pointing straight ahead, push your lower back into wall and keep pressure on your heels. Press your shoulders back, keeping your head up, and relax your shoulders, neck, arms and hands. Hold for 90 seconds.

Of course, if you start to feel any discomfort, gently move yourself out of the position.

The Right Equipment

You can always address pain and suspected injury due to stress and bad posture by investing in the right working equipment. Check into the right ergonomic keyboards and, if you are serious, search for ‘Mechanical Key keyboards’ to give your fingers a break from their own stress!

Is it Time to ‘Switch’ your Keyboard?

worker stress funny

The more that you investigate about keyboards, in order to find the ‘perfect one for you’, the more detailed info ration you will find. Pretty early on in this process, it will become obvious to you that a keyboard’s keys, and the mechanisms below them, tucked out of site of the users, are the most important components that you will need to learn more about. The real job is learning about the switches below those keys.

The Finger points

After all, these are the points that your body actually touches any keyboard. Your fingers are the conduits that your brain signals communicate through. It doesn’t matter if you write blog posts, specialist technical journals, or simple e-mails. If you are at all uncomfortable, it is your fingers that will feel it first. Any kind of pain or discomfort you feel at the contact point will soon grow into nerve pain through your palms, wrists, arms and back.

Whether or not you are investigating moving beyond the ‘off the rack’ keyboard that comes with your working or home computer, or interested on what different products are on the market, eventually you will look at the different kind of physical keys that there are on the market, and you will be faced with a decision: Do I buy Rubber-Domed or Mechanical switches?

The Rubber-Domed Switch

The vast majority of keyboards on the market today feature a Rubber or Silicon dome that sits directly under the key that you see, connect to the ‘works’ that lie under the keyboard, and between keying action and the letter appearing in screen.

The visible part of the key is called the Key Cap. These are relatively expensive items that must deliver a long life. However, it is the switch below it that receives all of the trauma and shock of being pressed – or hit! – Repeatedly over the life of the product. A much more cost effective method is to protect this switch with a simple rubber dome that sits under the Key Cap, and suffers the repeated shock of action time and time again.

The differences in the shape and thickness of the domes that the mass producer of your keyboard uses determines the travel distance, resistance, and tactile feedback of the switch.

Being Mechanical

Mechanical key-switches are more elaborate and made in a better quality than other key-switch types.  In this system, each key has its own independent key-switch mechanism that will register when a key is pressed.

In most cases the key is actuated (the keystroke is generated, and sent to the computer) halfway through the key travel distance. For example, the key may be capable of traveling 3 mm before hitting the bottom of the key-well, but the keystroke is generated after 1.5 mm.

As there is no requirement to travel the full key travel distance when being operated,  typists enjoy the luxury of not pressing keys fully down, reducing the constant jarring action on fingertips when ‘bottoming out’ and associated unnecessary muscle action. Additionally, the constant use if these types of keys offer increasing resistance after the keystroke is generated, encouraging the user to stop pressing down the keycap and instead move on to the next keystroke. Finally, key-caps snap back to the starting position (i.e. up) more quickly than other key-switch types, facilitating faster typing speeds.

Of course, Mechanical key-switch keyboards are more expensive when initially bought, but their working life is much longer. Together with the lowered risk of injury caused by repetitive stress injury, you may want to investigate a keyboard with mechanical switches for a more pleasant working experience.