Use this five-step approach to set up an ergonomic desk and add a little more zen to your day.
First, stop whatever you’re doing . Now, assess your body. Do you experience pain in your neck ? How’s your posture? And what about your wrists and fingers — are they okay after all that typing and texting ?
Back pain is one of the most common work-related injuries and is often caused by ordinary work activities such as sitting in an office chair or heavy lifting. Applying ergonomic principles – the study of the workplace as it relates to the worker – can help prevent work-related back pain and back injury and help maintain a healthy back.
1 – How to Adjust an Office Chair
Your chair is your best ergonomic companion. It bolsters your back, your base, and your stance. There are numerous chairs to browse, however just a couple of significant things to pay special mind to.
Shape. Think back to your natural posture. With your tailbone sticking out just a bit, and your vertebrae in their slight curve, the lumbar portion of your spine points in toward your belly. To help you sustain this posture, find a chair that offers good lumbar support.
Length. When you sit down, there should be a little space between the edge of the chair and the back of your knees, about the size of your fist. Depending on the chair, you might be able to adjust the seat depth accordingly.
Height. When you sit, your feet should be on the floor (not dangling) in front of you, and your thighs should be slightly below your hips. Shorter folks might need to use a footrest, while extra-tall types might need to adjust the height of the desk.
If you ever find yourself tucking your feet behind you, sitting on one leg, or in another funky position, you chair needs to be adjusted.
2 – How to position your monitor
Place the monitor in a location that eliminates glare on the screen.
Reflected glare from your monitor can cause eyestrain, but sometimes it will also cause you to assume an awkward position to read the screen.
Place the monitor at a right angle or away from the windows and task lights. Glare and bright light directly behind your screen can cause eyestrain and be an uncomfortable computing experience. If you can’t adjust the angle of your monitor, try closing the window blinds or turning off/changing the lights if there is a bright light behind the screen.
Place the monitor directly in front of you. Placing the monitor directly in front of you prevents you from twisting your head and neck from viewing the screen.
Place the monitor at least an arm’s length away from you. The monitor should be at a comfortable distance away from you, allowing you to view the entire screen without too much twisting of your head and neck.
Place the monitor so you can clearly read the screen without bending your head, neck or trunk forward or backward. By now you’ve probably noticed a common theme. You need to place your monitor to reduce awkward postures. Get your monitor in the right position and your neck and shoulders will thank you!
3 – Keyboard and mouse placement
Have your mouse, keyboard and screen positioned in front of you. If the keyboard and mouse are positioned to the side, you will twist your body to use them, putting strain on your torso and shoulders. If you’re doing this all day, you’re going to end up aching. By making sure the keyboard and mouse are directly in front of you and as central as possible to your body, you will be able to type with your shoulders in a natural position and avoid unnecessary pain.
Position the mouse and keyboard at about elbow height. With the mouse and keyboard at the same height as the elbows and forearms, the shoulders can fall relaxed by your side. This will likely require adjustment of your chair and desk height. Do not place your mouse and keyboard on different levels, as you’ll have to keep moving your arm up and down. Small, repetitive movements like these put you at greater risk of musculoskeletal injury.
Place the mouse and keyboard close to the front of the desk. Place the mouse and keyboard so that you don’t need to stretch to use them. The keyboard should be around 5 cm from the front edge of the desk, and the mouse roughly in line with the keyboard. You need to leave enough room to support the wrists.
The mouse should also be placed close to the keyboard. If the mouse is positioned out to the side, you may be forced to stretch, putting strain on the shoulder and arm, or causing you to bend your wrist unnaturally. Keep the mouse close to the side of your keyboard edge to prevent stretching.
Avoid using a laptop keyboard and trackpad. Yes we know laptops are a convenient tool for many of us, but they have not been designed for prolonged use with physical ergonomics in mind. Set up your laptop with a laptop stand and an external mouse and keyboard. Treat the laptop as a monitor and follow the tips above for mouse and keyboard placement.
4 – How to position your phone ?
If set-up out of arm’s length, repeatedly reaching for the phone can put strain on the arm, shoulder and neck. Place the phone where it is easily accessible to minimize the risk of injury from repetitive reaching.
5 – Move and stretch
We can’t end an article on office ergonomics without reminding you to get up and move! You are a workplace athlete and your body is designed for movement. There is no magical, perfect posture that will keep your body safe in the office. Invest in your health and well being by taking stretch breaks and getting in some form of movement every day.