Ready to give your workspace a makeover?
If you sit behind a desk for hours at a time, you’re not doomed to a career of neck and back pain or sore wrists and shoulders. Proper office ergonomics including correct chair height, adequate equipment spacing and good desk posture can help you stay comfortable at work.
Relax those shoulders. Your shoulders will have a tendency to elevate, they should remain down and relaxed allowing the forearms to assume a relatively parallel position with the ground. The chair armrests should be adjusted to support this posture.
Neutral wrist posture. Your wrists should remain in a straight, neutral position in-line with your forearms as the elbows hang comfortably, in a fairly vertical alignment and close to your trunk.
Avoid bending your wrists sharply upward or downward to type. If possible, use a split design or tented-and-raised keyboard, otherwise, simply try to use a spacious one. To help your wrists “float” over the keyboard, we recommend a gel-like keyboard pad. However, this should only be used if it actually elevates your wrists. Depending on your position, this may actually encourage you to hold your hands at an angle.
Adjust that Chair
Adjust your chair height so that your knees assume a 90 degree bend. Your thighs should be relatively parallel to the floor. Your feet should comfortably rest flat on the floor or you may need a foot rest to achieve this posture.
It is imperative that your chair has an adjustable lumbar support. Adjust this so that, at a minimum, it matches the natural curve of your lower back. If your chair lacks this feature, we strongly recommend that you purchase a supportive lumbar roll cushion that generally straps onto the backrest of the chair. When sitting in your chair, you should be able to fit 2-3 fingers between the back of your knees and the seat edge. Again, armrests should be adjusted so your shoulders can be down and relaxed, rather than pushed upwards or winging outwards.
Change your Posture Regularly
Regardless of how healthy your work posture is, sitting in any one position for an extended period is not healthy. If you have an adjustable chair, alternate between the following:
- Sit upright. As discussed above, keep your trunk upright with adequate lumbar support, your thighs horizontal and lower legs vertical.
- Sit reclined. Tilt the backrest of your chair back slightly so that your trunk reclines between 105 and 120 degrees from your thighs.
- Sit declined. Tilt the seatpan on your chair slightly forward so that the angle between your thighs and trunk is slightly more than 90 degrees. We especially recommend this sitting posture.
- Alternatively, stand and take frequent breaks to stretch. A good guideline is to stretch or change your position every 20 to 30 minutes. Consult a rehabilitation specialist to learn how to bio-ergonomically “fit” you to the demands of your workplace. Learn necessary tools to spare breakdown of your tissues and help preserve functional longevity.
Set up your Work Surface Ergonomically
Your monitor should be about an arm’s length away to reduce eye strain. Adjust your monitor so that the center sits at eye level. The monitor should always be directly in front of your face and at or slightly below eye level.
Your keyboard and mouse should be near one another and on the same surface. This should enable you to transition between typing and using the mouse with as little effect on your arm and wrist posture as possible.
Finally, arrange commonly used items within sight and reach. You should not need to stretch to reach these objects.
The following resource may also be of help to you:
Osha’s Complete Guide to an Ergonomic Work Space – https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/computerworkstations/positions.html