The Incredible Shrinking Woman
A family member recently told me that when she gets into her car after working eight hours as a software engineer she finds herself lowering the rear view mirror as if she had somehow become shorter over the course of the day. I was delighted to hear such a graphic demonstration of the effect sitting at a computer can have on one’s posture, and it made me want to know more about how such a thing could happen.
Motion is the Potion
Working diligently for hours on end with eyes focused intently on the screen, seated computer users are largely unaware of the forces acting upon their body, that is, until they stand up. At that point, the body gets its message through to the brain with stiff, achy muscles, creaky joints, limited neck and lower back mobility, sore eyes, jaws and shoulders.
It’s a two-fold problem: even though you may start out in a neutral posture, your body gradually drifts out of it until you realize you’ve “locked” into a position far from where you started. Holding your body in one place, even if it is the least straining, neutral posture, is detrimental. The obvious remedy to static posture is to move on a regular basis; getting your brain to pay attention to the rest of your body when it’s so absorbed in visual activity with the computer screen is the greater challenge.
The Eyes Lead the Body
According to Dr. Jeffery Anshel, an expert in the field of visual ergonomics, “Nature has designed our visual system to be so dominant that we will alter our body posture to accommodate any deficiency in the way we see. In many office situations the vision of a worker is compromised and they must adapt their posture to ease the strain on the visual system.”
Breathe – Blink – Break
Based on the logic that the body follows the eyes, Dr. Anshel suggests that protecting the body from the hazards of computer use should begin with protection of the eyes. Toward that end, he recommends an approach called the “3 Bs”: Blink more often, take frequent deep Breaths and take a short Break every hour. Introducing these simple activities into your work routine requires nothing more than a commitment from you to yourself.
Keep your Eyes on the Prize: Comfortable Computing
Learn more about how computer use can compromise eyesight and get some valuable recommendations for setting up a computer monitor that encourages healthy vision in the table below. Visit Dr. Anshel’s website at: www.cvsconsulting.com for more information on the 3Bs and other great advice.