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:

Seat Height:

  • 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.

Seat Depth:

  • 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.

Seat Backrest:

  • 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.

Seat Material:

  • 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:

  • 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.

Computer Monitor:

  • 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.

Keyboard:

  • 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.

Mouse:

  • 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. 

  

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