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The Struggle is Real: Being on a Computer All Day

Tips & Tricks

Having a hobby or career in graphic arts is fun and rewarding, but can also present some long-term physical challenges. Working a full-time job that requires you to be on the computer all day can really wear on your body after a while. As designers and developers, we tend to have upper back tightness and can develop tendonitis in the arm, wrist, and hand, from overuse. Once problems like this start, it is very difficult to reverse them because most of our jobs require us to use our computers and mouses everyday. The struggle is real!

It doesn’t help that most of us move right from our computers to our smartphones. Holding a phone, scrolling, tapping, pressing and looking down…all of these movements will make the problem worse.

So what can we do to prevent, reverse, and slow this process?

1. Stretch. Stretch. Stretch. Did we mention STRETCH? Giving your body a break throughout the day by practicing easy movements in your office will make a world of difference in how your body feels and how much irreversible damage is done. There are specific stretching techniques targeted at people who sit at the computer all day. Movements that will help your shoulders, back, neck, arms, wrists, hands and fingers. Go on YouTube and do a little searching. Not a bad idea to keep a yoga mat in your office either. A lot of these stretches can be done without even getting up from your chair…but if you can, try to get up.

2. Get off the computer and smartphone. Okay, so for most of us this is just unrealistic, so let’s improvise. During the day while you are working, try to limit the amount of times you pick up your smartphone to check Facebook or the weather. You’d be surprised at how obsessively we check our phones throughout the day…try setting it aside for a while. Next time you go to start a designer project go old school – start with a notebook and a pen. This will give your hand another break from that cramped position most of us hold over our mouses. Maybe instead of replying to an email you get up from your desk and take a walk to that persons office.

3. Alignment. Check the alignment from elbow, to wrist, and finger tips. A lot of us have our chairs too high or too low, and most people don’t have any wrist support. Using a wrist pad may feel awkward at first, but hang in there, it’s worth it.

4. The mouse. One thing designers definitely don’t put enough thought into is the type of computer mouse they are using. Some people use a trackpad (Oyyyy vey! Bad idea for long-term use.), and others just use whatever mouse was there before. Kudos to Apple for designing such cool products, but in this case, the Apple mouse is not your friend. Think of it more as a hand/wrist death trap. We all want to look super chic on our big iMac’s with our sweet designer gadgets, but you won’t so glamorous when your mouse hand looks like a decrepit spider. A good mouse is worth investing in, and there are a lot available for purchase that are specifically designed to fit the hand better.

5. Get your eyes checked annually.Why do so many people avoid the eye doctor? GO! Seriously, go. Especially if you are designer, and even more if you are a developer. Unless you took our a hefty insurance policy on your eyeballs, you are going to need them to stay employed. Besides, all the staring causes headaches too. If you need glasses, wear them. If you don’t, keep going to the eye doctor until you do and THEN wear them.

So in the end, the struggle is really real, and although our jobs don’t technically require a lot of big physical movements, our bodies pay big time if we don’t take care of them. Don’t wait until it’s too late, get moving!

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