In today’s world many people work on a computer all day long. There are some that spend their entire careers performing a desk job like this. It’s typical for you to worry about the strain on your eyes that comes with long hours staring at a computer screen.
Often times people will forget to think about the other negative consequences that can occur due to this type of work.
A desk job can take a toll on your body as well, and one prevalent problem that many deal with is known as computer elbow. Computer or mouse elbow (aka lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow) is a pain on the outer regions of the elbow and results from overuse of the muscles and tendons of the forearm and around the elbow joint.
Typing, coding, and using a mouse all day long are common in today’s world. These activities when performed repetitively for long hours will probably lead you to severe arm pain such as tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other related conditions.
Don’t fret if you have started to showcase symptoms of computer elbow. There are measures you can take to ease your pain and keep yourself as protected as possible from potential injury. I am listing 11 useful and essential tips to prevent computer elbow below.
Please take a look at each of them. They will all be useful in protecting yourself from future pain and also in easing your current symptoms if you’re already suffering.
1- Organize Your Work Station
Your first priority should be to set up your workstation in an organized fashion that will give you room to work.Elbow pain from computer work can be exacerbated by having a cramped work environment.
If your desk is so cluttered that you don’t have a place to rest your arms comfortably, you can see how this will become a problem.
Start by clearing your desk. You should do your best to eliminate the items on your desk that aren’t essential. You know you need your keyboard, mouse and computer monitor.
You may want to keep things such as a pen and notepad handy. Just do your best to cut down on placing unnecessary things on your desk.
Also make sure that you have your computer monitor lined up so that it is in your direct line of sight. You don’t want to have to uncomfortably tilt your neck while doing such work. If you use a laptop you might want to add an external keyboard and lift your laptop with a stand or a ream of paper.
Ideally, your arms, shoulder and legs should be in line. Being able to keep your back and shoulders straight during your work day will help greatly.
Keeping your legs and arms at 90 degree angles works best. Your feet should be flat on the floor. You should avoid crossing your legs as it’s really bad for blood circulation. Sitting at your desk properly can really help you to avoid computer elbow.
2- Take Frequent Breaks
It’s really important to take breaks throughout your day. Ideally, you should work for around 45 minutes to an hour and then take a break. A break between 5 and 10 minutes should suffice. Just make sure that you stand up, walk a little and stretch out. Stretch your wrists, back, arms, legs, shoulders and neck. Your body will feel much better if you give it a good stretch once per hour.
You’ll also be more productive if you allow your body a break. To make sure that I take my breaks on time, I use a timer app called Pomodoro Timer available on the App Store or ClearFocus available on Google Play. I set 2 Pomodoros of 25 minutes each and then I take my 5 or 10 minute break, depending on how long I feel I need.
3- Use a Stand Up Desk
This may not be for everyone, but many people swear that using a stand up desk is a great idea. In many ways it is something that works very effectively in preventing a lot of the health problems associated with too much time sitting during your desk job. If you’re standing up to do your job, then you are avoiding a lot of what causes health problems like blood clots or computer elbow.
I personally don’t like to stand all day but it’s definitely good for your legs and posture. You can also get a model of desk that is the best of both worlds so to speak. There are computer desks out there that raise and lower. This allows you to work a portion of your day from the standing position. You can still sit down but you won’t be locked into sitting all day to do your work. It’s definitely an option to consider.
4- Opt For an Ergonomic Mouse
What about your mouse? Most places of employment provide a standard mouse to their employees. These certainly get the job done, but an ergonomic mouse can really help out a ton when it comes to preventing computer elbow. Here are two models that work very well. Either of these options will work wonders, allowing you to more comfortable, click and navigate through your work tasks.
This ergonomic mouse allows you to move the cursor without moving your arm. You can purchase it directly on Amazon.
This mouse has been specifically designed to encourage vertical alignment and a more ergonomic operating position. It’s also available on Amazon in 3 different sizes: small, medium and large.
5- Use More Keyboard Shortcuts
Using more shortcuts with your keyboard can help you. Clicking can cause pain in your hand and wrist. So try to use more shortcuts like copy, paste, cut, select all. Not everyone is familiar with keyboard shortcuts. If you only know one or two or don’t know any at all, have no fear. Here is a complete list you can use. You can access to the infographic here.
After awhile you’ll start to remember the shortcuts and find that they’re really convenient. Try and see if you feel more comfortable after beginning to use keyboard shortcuts more often. It might seem like a very minor thing, but it is actually cutting down on some of the wear and tear on your hands.
6- Why Not Use a Graphic Tablet?
A graphic tablet allows you to draw, select objects and any type of function. Best of all it programs with a pencil. Graphic tablets are mainly for designers but if you are not a designer, you can still use a graphic tablet. If you have a colleague who uses one, why not try it out?
Your hand, wrist and arm will be more relaxed throughout the day. Less stress on your elbow is a big positive when it comes to using a graphic tablet as well.
7- Rest Your Arms And Shoulders
You don’t have to have your hand on your mouse or your desk at all times throughout the day. Oftentimes you need to read an email, article, report or perhaps take a phone call. While you don’t need to use your computer actively, just rest your arms on the armrest of your chair or swing your arms and roll your shoulders.
Even just taking a little break from the typical computer posture can alleviate many of the issues associated with elbow pain from computer use. You will have plenty of opportunities throughout the day to do this. Take advantage of them when you can.
8- Wear a Compression Elbow Sleeve
To prevent computer elbow it is an excellent idea to wear a compression elbow sleeve. They are also sometimes referred to as computer elbow pads, computer elbow braces or mouse elbow braces. Regardless of how you’d like to refer to them, they are a great tool for keeping yourself from getting computer elbow.
There are several benefits to wearing one everyday such as:
- Enhanced blood flow,
- Better oxygen delivery,
- Cooling effect.
I recommend WIMI Compression Elbow Sleeves.
9- Stretch Your Wrists And Arms
While you are reading or relaxing during breaks, be sure to stretch your wrists and arms. There are a few different stretches you can do.
One suggested stretch is to put your arms in front of you in a prayer position, and to move your arms up and down while keeping that pose. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times 3-5 times per day. You should only feel a slight pull and not feel any pain when stretching this way.
This will help to improve the flexibility in your arm.
10- Improve Blood Flow
While sitting keep your blood flowing:
- Forget tight clothes and skinny jeans, they are too restrictive,
- Contract your legs and rotate your ankles,
- Don’t drink too much coffee, instead drink more water,
- Don’t cross your legs at all costs,
- Taking aspirin can help you but please ask your healthcare provider first
11- Just Relax!
Stress is not your friend and it can cause tensions in your body. If you apply these tips above, you should keep clear of any arm pain such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s also important to remember to just relax. Try not to overthink things and just remember to listen to your body. Stretch when you need and be mindful of how you’re sitting throughout the day.
Taking these tips into account will benefit you. Your workplace productivity should increase. It’s safe that say that you’ll feel more positive about your job and your health will not be in jeopardy. Working on a computer is not physical but it can become a physical pain so prevention is paramount.
Do you have any other tips you would like to share with us? Please share your tips and comment below.
Product images sourced from Amazon.com.