The importance of proper ergonomics when first learning how to touch-type must be part of any keyboarding curriculum in schools today. We all know that reversing bad habits is much hard than simply forming proper habits in the first place. This is coming from someone who is still trying to break bad habits, constantly reminding themselves to stop slouching in their chair and keep their wrists straight.
Everyone will struggle with maintaining proper ergonomics during school and their career, but it’s important that students learn the proper ergonomics of typing early and often. Below are the five main elements of proper ergonomic positioning for any student (or adult) learning how to type.
1. Keep your back and neck straight
This is probably the hardest one to do for long periods of time. Over time, the tendency is to slouch your shoulders, hunch over, or lean back in your chair because it’s just more comfortable. Remind yourself every few minutes to sit up straight and keep your neck from bending down. This position is not just better for your back and neck, but it allows the rest of your body to be in the proper positions as well.
2. You should be looking at the top third of your monitor
To help with your neck position and neck strain, it’s important you’re sitting high enough in your chair (or your monitor is high enough on your desk) so you don’t have to tilt your neck down to look at what you’re typing. With your back and neck straight, you want to be looking at the top third of your monitor. Sitting up higher in your chair also allows your elbows to be above the desk.
3. Your elbows should be open 90-100 degrees
Ideally your forearms come straight out from your elbows, which should be bent around 90 degrees or slightly more. If your elbows are closed, this usually indicates the keyboard is too close and can cause shrugged shoulders and bent wrists. If your arms are extended straight then you’re too far away from the keyboard. You want your forearms horizontal and not at an angle up or down.
4. Keep your wrists straight
This is one of the most important elements of proper ergonomics because bent wrists can develop carpal tunnel over time, which can lead to long-term pain and even surgery. You want your wrists to stay as straight as possible while typing, not bent up or down. This can be tiring for your hands, so using a wrist support in front of your keyboard may help.
5. Feet should lay flat on the floor
Keeping both feet flat on the floor may sound easy, but when you stop to think about your feet position, you’ll likely realize they are hardly ever both flat on the floor. This position of your feet keeps your hips aligned and helps you keep the correct back and neck position discussed earlier.
Improving Ergonomics When Using a Laptop
Keeping up proper ergonomics when typing is hard, but even more so when typing on laptop. Use these couple tips to help maintain proper ergonomics when using a laptop.
- If you can, use an external keyboard and mouse instead of the built in keyboard and track pad. Those devices are not designed for long-term use.
- Still try to keep your laptop at eye level. If working at home or in an office, use a riser to raise the level of the laptop. Doing this makes the external keyboard and mouse that much more important.
Free Infographic: Seven Ergonomic Exercises Students Should Do While Typing
Students shouldn’t actually do these exercises while typing, but they can be performed before students start typing or during a short 1-2 minute ergonomic break (which should occur once every 10-15 minutes of typing). They are quick and easy exercises that can be performed in the classroom at a desk.Download the Free Infographic