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 Healthy Computing: Ergo Creativity 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Healthy Computing Tips by . View all columns in series
Optimize your performance and prevent computer-related injuries with Healthy Computing Email Tips. Each week we provide hints to help you stay healthier while working.
Ergonomics play an important role in overall health when working at the computer. A simple change, such as putting the keyboard at a negative tilt may seem costly. We think that we may have to replace a desk or purchase an adjustable keyboard tray just to achieve our goal. However, ergonomic changes don't necessarily have to cost a lot of money-what is usually required is creativity. Help reduce discomfort caused by poor ergonomics and increase creativity when you use ERGO CREATIVITY.


Take a moment to assess your workstation. Then explore the following simple and inexpensive ergonomic problems.

Desk too low:

  • Place 2x4 boards, bricks, etc. under the legs of the desk.

Desk too high:

  • Trim the legs.
  • Raise your chair and use a footrest or create a platform upon which you can sit.

Dangling feet:

  • Use phone books, reams of paper, or firm pillows to create a footrest.

Homeless mouse:

  • Place a mouse bridge over the 10-key pad.
  • Use a c-clamp with a small board next to the keyboard tray to create a mouse pad.

Source documents or books flat:

  • Prop a 1-inch 3-ring binder between the keyboard and monitor to create a document holder--use a small piece of anti-skid shelf lining or a large clip tokeep documents from sliding (shelf lining can be found at hardware stores, Target or Costco).
  • If you are reading a book, use a fork to keep the pages open-place it across the top with the prongs slipped through the pages on one side and the handle pressing against the pages on the other. Rest your hands.
  • When reading at home, use pillows on your lap to raise the book closer to eye level.

Flat writing surface:

  • Use hard cover 2-inch 3-ring binder with anti-skid shelf liner to create a slant surface.
  • Students can carry an empty 3-ring binder with anti-ski shelf liner for a note-taking slant table.

Chair uncomfortable:

  • Use a pillow for better back support.
  • Remove the armrests if they get in the way of working at the keyboard.
  • Roll a towel and hang it over the back so it supports your spine and helps you to maintain a neutral posture. Tape the towel in place with plastic packing tape.
  • Wrap the armrests with soft, spongy material if they are too hard and tape.
  • Sit on a large gym ball instead of a chair.

Keyboard flat:

  • Place a row of post-it pads underneath the front of the keyboard to create a negative tilt. Peel the back of the post-its so they stick or use anti-skid shelf liner.

Sharp edges on the desk:

  • Glue a strip of weather stripping to the edge.

Monitor placement:

  • Too close: Move your desk away from the wall and push your monitor to the back of the desk.
  • Too low: Use reams of paper to raise the monitor. One ream is approximately 2 inches thick--adjust the volume of paper to the correct height.
  • Too high: remove the stand from the bottom of the monitor.

Regardless of your ergonomic situation, always remember to take your breaks-micro-, meso-, and large movement.

Copyright 2003 Erik Peper, Ph.D. and Katherine Hughes Gibney
Permission to copy and distribute Healthy Computing Email Tips for personal use is granted. Distribution or copying of Healthy Computing Email Tips for commercial purposes is prohibited without prior written consent of the copyright holders

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 About The Author
Erik Peper, Ph.D. is an international authority on biofeedback and self-regulation. He is Professor and Co-Director of the Institute for Holistic Healing Studies, Department of Health Education, at San Francisco......moreErik Peper PhD
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