In today’s day and age, most of us can’t avoid spending way too many hours in front of a computer monitor. Unfortunately, the posture and repetitive movement that this encourages is one that causes excessive stress on body parts like the hands, wrists, elbow, shoulders, neck, and back. This contributes to discomfort, fatigue and even outright pain.
Fortunately, there is a way to limit this stress put on your body and potentially reduce or eliminate the discomfort and fatigue. This is done through the implementation of proper ergonomics. Ergonomics is a discipline that involves arranging the environment to fit the person in it. This can be done anywhere but for the sake of this post, we will hit you with a few easily implementable tips for the office setting.
Adjust the height of the chair so feet rest flat on the floor, the thighs are parallel to the floor, and the knees are about the same level as the hips.
Adjust height of armrests so the arms can rest at your sides during typing, allowing for relaxation and a natural “drop” of the shoulders. Shoulders should not be elevated in anyway by the armrests.
The top of the screen should be at or just below eye level when you are seated in an upright position to avoid encouragement of forward translation of the head and shoulders. The monitor should also be directly in front of you to avoid excessive twisting of the neck.
KEYBOARD AND MOUSE
The angle between your elbows and forearms should be as close to 90 degrees as possible, with forearms parallel to the floor and keyboard directly in front of you.
Try to avoid resting your wrists or hands on the edge of the keyboard while typing or on the mouse when you are not using it. While using the mouse, make sure your wrist is in a neutral position.
The mouse, keyboard, and every other thing on your desk that you frequently use should be positioned close to you to avoid excessive reaching.
AVOIDING EYE STRAIN
You may be unaware of it, but little changes can help you avoid unwanted eye strain throughout the day. This eye strain can lead to headaches and increased forward head posture.
Monitor should be approximately 18-30 inches from the eyes (depending on the size of the monitor).
Reduce Glare by:
Positioning the monitor at a right angle from the window.
I know you love that window in your office, but closing the blinds also reduces the glare.
The worktop surface should have a matte finish (think desk blotter if you have a shiny desk).
GET UP AND MOVE
It is imperative that you break up the long periods of sitting. Sitting is actually one of the worst positions for your back and can also lead to blood pooling in legs and feet. Taking a quick break from sitting every 20 to 40 minutes is key.
Practice “dynamic sitting.” Make sure there is enough room underneath the desk to move your legs. If you do find yourself seated for extended periods of time, utilize a lumbar support or a rolled towel to support the natural curve of your lower back.
Getting up and walking to the bathroom or to get some water (the two go hand in hand and you should be drinking more water anyway) are an easy way to keep it moving. If you need to stay at your station, simply stand up and perform a stretch like the Bruegger’s Stretch demonstrated here:
Please do not underestimate the power of some of these simple changes. Anytime I work with a patient, we always address the work station set-up through pictures provided by the patient or checking it out in person. If you’re curious about your personal space or feel like those around you would benefit from a work space makeover, please contact me as we are now accepting patients and providing free ergonomic evaluations for all local businesses. This is a standard part of your individual treatment plan when you become a patient, but a free office wide evaluation can be done as well.
As with all things, proper ergonomics is just one piece of the puzzle. Couple this with a thorough chiropractic evaluation addressing overall posture, balance and any other issues you may have going on and you are making a strong proactive statement about regaining control of your health and ultimately your life. Again, feel free to contact me if you’re interested in getting started.
Remember, a proper, less strenuous work station promotes better posture and less discomfort. Better posture promotes better breathing (more oxygen) and less needless strain on numerous muscles, each leading to less fatigue and pain, and clearer, more creative thinking. This means your work gets done faster and at a higher level. Sounds like a bonus for employee and employer alike.