the year 2003, more than 9,200 nongovernment workers missed a day or
more of work because of typing or keyboarding related injuries,
according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics.
In 2008, the situation
got a whole lot worse as sales of laptop computers overtook those of
desktops for the first time. Today, according to British born Paul
King, co-founder of Practicayoga in Guadalajara, Mexico,
things will get much worse, as laptops begin to take their place as the
principal workhorses of the office.
“People now work at laptops for long hours, although this is not what
they were designed for. The ergonomics of a laptop are quite different
from those of a desktop. In the former, the keyboard and screen are
very close together and not easily separable. This means, even if you
work at a table or desk, you are looking downward, rather than forward.
Typically your lumbar is convex instead of its natural concavity,
shoulders are rounded forward, your chest is collapsed, and the back of
the neck is permanently extended. This posture spells serious health
problems for millions of people around the world.”
King says you can
improve this situation by investing in an external keyboard and raising
the level of the laptop screen, for example by placing it on top of a
stack of books, so you are looking straight at the screen.
Your feet should be flat on the floor and both your forearms and your
thighs should be parallel to the floor. Sit upright, weight in the
center of your sitting bones, neither pressing the lumbar forward nor
allowing it to collapse back. If this is difficult to maintain, maybe
use a lumbar support. “Of course this set-up works well for people who
can touch type,” he comments, “but if you can't and you still need to
look down at the keyboard, the problem remains.”
What can happen to you
if you work like this for a long time? “In the short term you may get a
headache or feel stress in your neck and shoulders. If your upper back
and neck muscles are contracted for a long time, and circulation to
your heart is reduced by your collapsed chest, the flow of blood and
oxygen to your whole body is reduced. As a result, you are not working
at your optimum health and intellect level. In the long run you could
end up with spinal problems.”
King says that modern
people are losing the natural curvature of their neck. Looking down a
lot causes the muscles in the back of the neck to elongate. If people
spend a lot of the day in this position, the muscles lose their
elasticity and computer users may get what is called a "flat neck,"
with possible pain and compression of the disks.
So what can you do if
you work at a keyboard all day? “I recommended that you take a break at
least once an hour and do certain simple exercises,” says the yoga
1. Sit forward
on the chair, reach behind you and grab the lower part of the chair’s
back with both hands. Press down with the hands and lift the chest
while rolling your shoulders back. Try to make your upper back concave.
You can also look up to release the back of the neck.
2. The spinal twist: sit
sideways on the chair with your feet and knees together and grab the
upper part of the chair's back with both hands, elbows wide apart. Now
you can twist your trunk easily, using one hand to push and the other
to pull. When you do this turn the abdomen first, then the chest and
finally the head. On each inhalation focus upon lengthening your spine
upwards, and then continue the twist on each exhalation. “Twists are so
beneficial for both the spine and the abdominal organs,” adds the yoga
expert. “It's always best to do each of them twice.”
3. Place your hands on
the back of the chair and walk away so as to fully extend your arms and
trunk parallel to the floor. Maintain this posture for a while, and
with each exhalation lengthen the sides of the trunk more. This creates
space between the vertabrae.
4. Finally, to correct
the typically bad spinal position of people who have been sitting for a
long time, you can, while seated, separate your feet and lean your
chest forward between your knees. Place your fingers on the floor and
let the weight of your trunk and head sink towards the floor. Breathe
into your lower back and allow the spinal muscles to relax as the back
lengthens and rounds. To go deeper you can clasp your hands behind your
neck, until your head is lower than your knees.
“This little workout,”
concludes King, “will help you correct problems of posture and keep
your spine mobile and healthy. Another thing that's good to do is to
rest your eyes by going outside and looking at distant objects.”
mentioned that all of the above exercises are in the spirit of B. K. S.
Iyengar who at 94 is still remarkably agile and continues to teach in
Pune, India. He founded Iyengar Yoga which is practiced by millions of
students around the world. It is a form of yoga that emphasizes correct
alignment and uses various props to make postures more accessible. Mr.
Iyengar recently taught in a hugely popular convention in China.
According to Wikipedia, Iyengar met and befriended the famous violinist
Yehudi Menuhin In 1952. Menuhin then arranged for Iyengar to teach in
London, Switzerland, Paris and elsewhere, resulting in the subsequent
popularity of yoga in the West. In 2004, Iyengar was named one of the
100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine.
Iyengar’s contributions to yoga was his application of exercises to
health problems like chronic backache, high blood pressure and
insomnia. Paul King says: “It's never too late to start Yoga.”
FIVE MORE EXERCISES TO COMBATE CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
simple exercises require you to put your arms in positions suggesting
the letters Y,T,H,L and V. You'll find instructions for doing them here.