Proper Posture and Ergonomics While Working at a Computer Desk
Are you reading this on a computer? Are you seated at a desk? If so, this blog is for you!
Although working at a computer doesn’t sound like dangerous work, it can cause repetitive strain injuries (like carpal tunnel syndrome). Posture-related problems may also occur – like pain in the back, neck, shoulders, arm, wrist and hand.
To prevent computer-related injuries, including muscle and joint soreness, remember to take frequent breaks to stretch and relieve muscle tension. Below are some tips to help you design a more comfortable and ergonomically correct work space:
- Your seat height should be adjusted while seated.
- Proper seat height should allow a comfortable 90 degree angle at the elbows for typing.
- Keep your thighs horizontal, your lower legs vertical and feet flat on the floor or on a footrest.
- Your seat depth should be deep enough to permit your back to contact the lumbar backrest without cutting into the backs of your knees.
- The front edge of your seat should be rounded and padded for comfort.
- The seat should swivel easily.
- The backrest should offer firm support, especially in the lumbar (lower back) region and should be easily adjustable both in angle and height, while sitting.
- The optimum angle between seat and back should permit a working posture of at least 90 degrees between the spine and thighs.
- Your chair seat and back should be padded enough to allow comfortable, yet supportive seating.
- If a seat is too soft, the muscles must always adjust to maintain a steady posture, which can cause strain and fatigue.
- Armrests should be positioned such that your forearms rest lightly on the armrest with your shoulders in a relaxed position while your elbow is kept at a 90 degree angle. This will prevent the shoulders being kept in a “shrugged” position which can lead to increased tension in shoulder and neck muscles.
- Angle your computer monitor 5 - 20 degrees and keep it at eye-level, approximately 18 - 30 inches away from you. This will promote an upright sitting posture.
- Use document holders and glare-free screens to prevent abnormal neck posture and prevent/decrease cervical strains.
- Slope your keyboard 5 - 20 degrees.
- The height of your keyboard should be in the same plane as your forearms.
- Use a wrist rest to keep your wrists in a neutral position while typing.
- Avoid long reaches by keeping frequently used objects, such as a mouse, close to you (approximately 10 inch reach).
- Less frequently used items may be placed slightly farther away.
If you still need help, a physical therapist can help to improve posture problems and treat pain.