54 per cent of those who use a computer mouse for an extended period every day experience discomfort or pain. So if you’re suffering from mouse arm, you’re not alone. To avoid developing mouse arm, you need to make sure your working position is relaxed and varied throughout the day.
Thousands and thousands of people suffer from work-related conditions as a result of working with a mouse. We have gathered four useful tips for mouse arm that may help you to reduce or completely get rid of the pain and discomfort.
1. Arrange your workstation in a way that is most beneficial for you.
One of the first things you should do is make sure that your workstation provides a relaxed and varied working position, not the opposite.
“How do I do that?” you may well ask.
A good place to start is to consider the following:
- A height-adjustable desk that allows you to change your position throughout the day. It may be a good idea to start the day standing.
- An adjustable chair, with a movable backrest and seat that allow you to work in various working positions throughout the day and still receive optimal support.
- Good lighting in your workspace, preferably with a desk lamp that you can move and adjust throughout the day.
- A height-adjustable monitor, allowing you to lift your gaze and thus reduce discomfort and tension.
- A compact keyboard that encourages you to work within the ideal working area in front of your body and ensures that you reduce the strain on your arms and hands.
- A wrist rest gives you relief and a better pressure distribution between your hands and forearms.
- A centred computer mouse that forces you to work within the ideal working area in front of your body and ensures that you reduce the strain on your arms and hands.
2. Make sure that you spend most of your time working within the ideal working area.
At Contour, we use “the ideal working area” to describe the area within your hands’ range if you place your elbows by your side (at waist height). If you need to stretch for something, you’ll end up in the outer working area, where only the things you seldom use should be placed.
As long as you work within the ideal working area, you’ll minimise the strain on your hands, arms and shoulders. It will also allow your overstrained muscles and joints in this area to recover.
Exercising the muscles in your upper body will help you with your pain.
When seeing the word "Exercise" perhaps you immediately think of the gym, and that may be the solution for you. But if that’s not possible, you can start elsewhere. There are a number of exercises you can do every day at your workplace, and they only take a few minutes. Exactly which exercises you will benefit from most depends on where you’re experiencing pain and discomfort.
Here are some exercises for wrists and arms that I myself have really benefitted from:
This exercise works best when you are standing, but you can also do it seated.
- Intertwine your fingers and turn your palms facing down.
- Now stretch your palms forward before raising your arms over your head, fingers still intertwined (remember to keep your shoulders down and away from your ears)
- Give an extra stretch up towards the ceiling.
Repeat this exercise several times a day.
The advantage of this exercise is that it stretches out your fingers, as well as the muscles in your forearms and chest.
This exercise can be done while sitting.
- Stretch your arms out in front of your body.
- Bend one hand palm-side up and the other one palm-side down.
- Then turn your palms up and down alternately.
Repeat this exercise several times a day.
This exercise stretches out the muscles in your forearms.
4. Variation, Breaks, Movement.
The last tip for mouse arm that I want to share with you is to make sure that you don’t sit in the same working position all day.
This is not always easy to remember. It is a common experience that when you are extremely focused on your work, you are more likely to ignore the signals of fatigue or overstraining that your body is sending. Breaks are important – not just to enable you to stay concentrated on the task you're working on, but also to allow your body to change muscle groups and let “office muscles” recover. Movement throughout the day facilitates the blood supply to your hands, arms and shoulders, and means you will feel more comfortable.
If you’re suffering from mouse arm, it’s even more important that you change your working position throughout the day. So try to have a structured approach and make a plan for the day that guarantees variation, breaks and movement. Some of the things that would be beneficial for you to try to incorporate into your workday are:
- Alternate between standing and sitting throughout the day, if you have a height-adjustable desk. For example, you could start the day standing up, as you are probably feeling at your freshest at that point, and therefore have the energy to stand properly on your feet. As soon as you notice that you’re beginning to lean on the desk, it’s time to find a new working position.
- You could also lean back in your chair and put your feet on the desk when reading a long document or coming up with the next big idea. And if you have access to a comfortable seating area, consider relocating there for a little while.
- What about holding your next meeting on a walk? (Providing it doesn't require a PowerPoint presentation, of course.) Just put on your jacket and head outside. The fresh air will no doubt be beneficial for the meeting, and it will certainly help to keep the agenda tight and to the point. Furthermore, in the winter months, it will also allow you to access a bit of the daylight and fresh air that is so good for all of us.
There are plenty of options. You just need to get started.