back pain

Forearm support

Does Every Computer Session End in Neck, Shoulders or Lower Back Pain? Try Supporting Your Forearms!

Do you ever suffer from lower back pain or shoulder girdle pain while or after working on a computer? Chances are, those pains are caused by a lack of support for your forearms.

What is the best position for the forearms when working on a computer?

Ergonomics experts differ regarding this issue and their approaches fall into several categories – Floating, using your table or the chair arm-rest as support, or using a special padded forearm support. This article presents those various approaches, discussing their advantages and disadvantages in an objective way, so as to let you decide which approach is most suitable for you.

Floating – The Pianist Approach

This approach consists in letting the palms of the hands hover over the keyboard. Specialists favoring this approach argue that shoulders should be relaxed and simulate the movements of piano playing, leaving the joints free of load. But this demands a keyboard situated very low and keeping a constant high awareness to your posture.

The table Support

Using the table itself to support your forearms might be the most common way. This method is self explanatory, easy, gives a full support to the shoulder girdles, and naturally creates a neutral posture of the palms. On the down side, the table’s sharp edge or hard surface edge can cause discomfort and sometime result in an inflammation in the elbow area. In addition, this solution is impossible to implement on narrow tables, and with tables lacking an ergonomic niche, laying the forearms on the table forces the user to extend his or her forearms further, which creates a certain load on the shoulder girdles.

Chair Armrest Support

Instead of using the table, you can rest your forearms on the chair’s own armrest. This insures a correct anatomical posture of the shoulders, and is suitable also for straight edged narrow tables, which lack depth. But this method cannot be implemented when the armrests are too narrow, not adjustable and not padded.

The Padded Ergonomic Armrest Board

In this method, the forearms are laid on a special padded surface connected to the table, with an ergonomic niche. The ergonomic pad affords full support to the forearm and it’s comfortable, as it neutralizes any pressure points. It creates a correct sitting posture, and leads to a relaxed and optimal posture of the shoulders. Correctly built ergonomic armrest boards enable every user to find the typing position most suitable for his or her body shape and shoulders width, so they are suitable for all users, regardless of their height, or weight (yes, even during pregnancy, when back pains can be a real issue). The ergonomic armrest board enables users to upgrade non-ergonomic environments, as it can be easily attached or transferred to another table.

Let’s summarize:

Floating, resting your forearms on the table or on the chair’s armrest or using an ergonomic board – deciding what is best for your depends on your physical characteristics, as well as on the work surface at your disposal, the type of work you do and the ergonomic accessories you already have in your work environment. Whichever method you choose, we advise you to consider carefully what is appropriate and remind you that prevention is always better than treatment! So make sure you do whatever you can to prevent those pains in your shoulders or lower back!

Dalit is a renowned ergonomics consultant who serves Fortune 500 companies as well as smaller corporations and organizations.
Having experienced the world of ergonomics first-hand, she designed the ergocloud – an innovative ergonomic arm rest.
Go to http://www.ergocloud.com, to see how the ergocould and additional ergonomic products can help you prevent pain and discomfort at your workplace.

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