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H
ealthy Computing Tips
 

Healthy Computing: Rediscover Fine Control

© Erik Peper PhD

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Healthy Computing Tips by Erik Peper PhD. 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.
Increasing work demands, coupled with personal desire to do a good job, sometimes causes us to work when we are tense and tired. Working under stress with rapid, repetitive, sustained hand movements (e.g., keyboarding and mousing), especially without taking episodic breaks, may contribute to loss of motor control and degradation of the somatosensory organization of the hand. This loss and degradation appears to be associated with discomfort.* Reduce discomfort and clumsy actions when you REDISCOVER FINE CONTROL.

HOW TO REDISCOVER FINE CONTROL:

Developing fine motor control is much easier when it is done in the spirit of play and discovery versus correct performance. Explore the following while you continue to breathe and smile:

Increase sensory discrimination with the following exercises:

  • Feel the object
    Collect small different objects such as magnetic letter, tiny toys. Then with your eyes closed begin to identify them with your fingers. Keep decreasing the differences between the objects. Identify them by touching them or pressing them against your fingers. If you find it difficult to identify objects, begin with only 2 items; have more if you find it easy.
  • Identify the material
    Have numerous different swatches of cloth, and then use tactile discrimination to identify them more and more rapidly.

Increase freedom of movement when you keep your neck and shoulders relaxed and continue to breathe. Explore the following exercises:**

  • Foot-hand coordination
    Sit on your chair and start rotating your right foot clockwise while simultaneously using your right hand to draw a big number 6 in the air beginning at the top of the number (top to bottom and then up again to close the loop).

    Repeat this same exercise with your left foot and left hand.

  • Finger gym
    Sit comfortably in your chair and breathe calmly. Now, touch your right thumb to your right little finger tip then, touch your ring finger then, middle finger then, index finger then, back to the little finger. Continue doing this a few times, gently moving your thumb from fingertip to fingertip. Relax your right hand.

    Next, tough your left thumb to your left index fingertip then, middle finger then, ring finger then, little finger then, back to the index finger. Continue doing this a few times, gently moving your thumb from fingertip to fingertip.

    Now do both the right and left hand simultaneously while keeping your neck and shoulders relaxed and maintaining slow breathing.

Develop your own new novelty movement and discrimination games. The more you play and explore the more somatic freedom develops.

*Byl, N.N., Nagajaran, S. & McKenzie, A.L. (2003). Effect of sensory discrimination training on structure and function in patients with focal hand dystonia: a case series. Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 84(10): 1505-14.

**We thank Monika Fuhs for suggesting the freedom of movement exercises.

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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 State University. He is President of the Biofeedback Foundation of Europe (2005) and past President of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.......more
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