The average person spends about 8 hours a day in the office, which is a good third of their life when it comes to their working years. Being in one position for such a large amount of time leads many office can lead some workers to strain their muscles and cause injury. This can be located in areas such as their neck region, their back or spine area, their shoulders, or any other extremities. Pain in these areas can lead to fair amount of stress and general discomfort, but luckily, the amount of pain people experience can be considerably cut back on and in many cases cut out entirely by using simple ergonomic tips that will lead to better comfort, a much higher quality of work output, and much better creative thinking.
Just as long as the worker does not already have any existing conditions, turning an unhealthy work station into one that promotes ergonomics can be incredibly easy to do. If you do have any existing conditions, make sure to consult with a physical therapist. Overall, it’ll significantly improve their general morale and work quality while also significantly reducing damage that can come from muscle injuries or chronic stress.
You may be interested in creating such a healthy environment yourself. To do so, there are four major parts to look at closely: your screen, your peripherals (the mouse and keyboard), your chair’s positioning, and yourself. Setting each of these groups up as best as you can is the key to comfort at the office.
Before worrying about changing your environment, focus on changing yourself. Many people fail to realize that all of these things must be somewhat tailored to their body and their specific needs if you want the best overall results. A short person will require a rather different setup than a taller person. Generally, you’ll want to be fairly vertical in your chair. Keep your arms relatively straight and above the keyboard, and ensure all of the suggestions here are utilized in a manner that can be maintained throughout the workday.
You’ll be stuck at your seat most of the day if you’re anything like most office workers. Because of this, it’s very important to set things up correctly. While you’re sitting at your desk in front of your computer, you’ll want your hips to be positioned all the way against the back of the seat in such a way that your lower back is actually making contact with the backrest.
From there, adjust your seat height so that your feet are flat on the floor and that your knees are positioned only slightly below your hip line. The front of the seat itself can touch your calves but should not be digging into them. Also, make sure that your backrest isn’t completely up and down, as you’ll want it reclined very slightly. In addition to that, make sure you aren’t resting your arms on your armrests while you’re engaged in typing, as they should only be used during things like meetings or while on the phone. It’s even good to get rid of armrests entirely.
The mouse and keyboard are how you connect with your computer throughout your day. Using them requires keeping your hands and arms at a relatively unnatural angle, so make sure that the way your keyboard and mouse are set up is as ergonomic as possible in order to avoid injury.
To do this, you’ll want to start out by looking into a keyboard tray. While a physical therapist would agree that standard keyboards are fine, the fact that you can adjust the height of your keyboard much more effectively makes it easier to maneuver once you’ve properly set up your chair.
You’ll want your keyboard’s height to be adjusted in a way that your shoulders are in a completely relaxed state to reduce shoulders pain, your upper arms are straight up and down, and your shoulder is bent at around 90 degrees. In relation to your fingers, you’ll want your keyboard to be positioned right in front of you and directly below your fingers to help your wrists stay straight and neutral. The only other big thing to mention is the mouse pad. Position it as close to your keyboard as you feel comfortable to reduce the amount of horizontal movement your arms have to make.
Proper monitor positioning is key when it comes specifically to neck pain and back pain and injury. Proper placement can even help alleviate headaches that come from working at a computer for an extended length of time.
To set up a monitor properly, you’ll want to have it placed around an arm’s length directly in front of you so that you can still touch it. Your eye line ought to be only around one or two inches below the top side of the monitor itself in order to allow your head and neck to maintain and overall neutral position.
The angle can be adjusted as needed in order to reduce glare from the sun or overhead lights in order to cut back on unnecessary eye strain.
Laptops were designed specifically to allow for better portability, but the rules we’ve covered above apply to them all the same when it comes to preventing injury. If you find that you’re using a laptop for more than three hours a day, you’ll want to purchase a wireless keyboard and mouse and even a laptop holder in order to be able to use the laptop the same way you’re using a standard computer with the rules above.
In addition to all of the above, it’s important to take regular small-sized breaks throughout the day in order to cut-back on fatigue. You’ll want to get up from your station every half hour or so, even if it’s just to stretch a bit or go for a quick drink of water. Anything you can think of and that your workplace permits that will allow you to get up and out of your desk for a little bit throughout the day is going to seriously help reduce muscle strain.
These adjustments we listed here are all small and easy things to incorporate into your daily routine, but added up together makes them an overall fantastic way to significantly reduce muscle strain and some of the long term problems like chronic muscle pain and extremities pain, associated with working so regularly at a computer.