What is the best set up for your desk?
Good Office ergonomics can help you
We often get asked how to set-up a computer desk to help reduce back and neck pain and keep a good posture. Indeed we often have patients presenting to us with low back pain, neck or arm pain and headaches from having their desk or computer set up incorrectly.
This blog discusses the correct set up for your desk, chair, monitor and even some things to remember for good posture while working.
A chair alone rarely controls how you sit. Your line of vision, the activity of your arms, and the physical demands of your particular task will influence your posture. Poor organization and configuration of the work area can challenge your posture even in the best chair.
Consider the following points when sitting at in your desk chair;
- Your feet should be flat on the floor and your knees equal to/or slightly lower than your hips.
- The backrest should support the back in a comfortable vertical position or slightly back.
- Ensure that the back rest is not placed too low and supports most of you back.
- Make sure that your forearms are level with your desk top. (This may mean adjusting the desk down if an option, or lifting your chair up and using a footrest).
- The desk should be at a height that enables the elbows to be bent at approximately 90 degrees and the feet flat on the floor.
- Under the desk should be clear of any items so they cannot interfere with your leg space or your posture.
- Place the most commonly used items in the top desk drawer to reduce reaching and bending movements.
- Where drawers are fitted to the desk ensure that the screen and keyboard are positioned to give your adequate leg room
- Position your monitor after your chair and desk heights have been established.
- The monitor should be approximately at arm’s length from your seated position
- Centre the screen directly in front of you approximately 2-3” above seated eye level.
- Make sure the centre of the screen is positioned downward at a 15 degree angle from your eyes.
- Reduce glare as much as possible by adjusting screen lighting, position and glare reducing optical lenses
- Place in-trays at the outer edge of your arms reach – close enough that you don’t have to bend to reach documents you need.
- Stationery should also be stored in the top desk drawer or within arms reach.
- Large or heavy references such as telephone directories and manuals should either be stored within close reach or in a nearby position where you have to access them.
When sitting at the desk:-
- Position the keyboard directly in front of your body.
- Place keyboard as close to the front edge of the desk as possible
- Use the keyboard feet to adjust the tilt. If you sit in a forward or upright position, try tilting your keyboard away from you at a negative angle. If you are reclined, a slight positive tilt will help maintain a straight wrist position.
- Do not place documents between the keyboard and the front edge of the desk while using the keyboard as this increases neck and arm strain.
Your mouse and telephone
- Place the mouse mat on your dominant side directly beside the end of the keyboard
- Always keep the mouse in the arc line of the keyboard so it can be reached when rotating your arm and always use a mat.
- Move the mouse from the elbow, rather than from the wrist down.
- Rest your finger lightly on the mouse button and try and avoid holding onto the mouse when not in use.
- Use shortcut keys whenever possible to limit mouse use
- The telephone should be placed at the edge of your arms reach.
- When making a lot of calls place the telephone on your dominant hand side.
- When mostly receiving calls, it may be more comfortable to place it on the non-dominant side.
- Learn and utilise the functions of your phone, such as redial and storage of commonly used phone numbers.
- When the phone is for prolonged periods of time use a headset
Your work posture
No matter how perfect the environment, prolonged, static postures will inhibit blood circulation and take a toll on your body.
- Change your position frequently. Move your feet, lift your arms, adjust your hips, subtly alter your posture continuously throughout the work day.
- Do NOT cross your ankles.
- Leaning your trunk back to between 100-120 degrees at times to relieve pressure from the hips and pelvis.
- Hold your head slightly up so that it is roughly perpendicular to the floor.
- Let your upper arms hang naturally from your shoulders.
- Let your lower arms rest on the arm rests of your chair either parallel or slightly below, to the floor.
- Keep your wrists straight.
There are many other posture and exercise tips on how to reduce pain at work in our blog “3 easy ways to keep active at work or study”
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