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Improving Desk Ergonomics

Improving Desk Ergonomics

Do you sit at a desk all day?  Are you answering phones or replying to emails hours at a time? If so, this blog is for you!

 

Too many times I’ve seen patients with neck pain, shoulder pain, elbow pain, carpal tunnel, and numbness or tingling in their hands and arms.   When I ask what their occupation is, many times they say that they sit at a desk at work, doing repetitive motions (i.e. answering the phone, entering numbers, typing emails, writing, etc.) and no one has analyzed at their posture and position of their computer and chair.

These poor postures and poor positions we sit at for 8 or more hours a day are causing increased stress on our bodies.  One may not have pain immediately, but over time the body gives up; it can no longer take the stress, resulting in pain that gradually increases over time.  Pain then causes us to slow down at work, making us uncomfortable, and we end up going home after work feeling even more pain.

 

So let’s prevent the injury and the pain before it even starts with a few simple fixes.

Bad desk ergonimics

Good desk ergonomics

Chair

Support the low back by using the back rest. Prevent excessive pressure on the sit bones and thigh to allow adequate blood flow.  Rest the arms on the arm rests to decrease stress at the neck, shoulder, and elbow.

  • Hip position: Hips should be at the back of the chair with the low back supported by the back rest.
  • Knee position: Approximately the width of 3-4 fingers between the back of the knee and edge of the chair seat. Knees should not be touching the edge of the chair seat. Knees should be at 90 degrees.
  • Feet position: Flat on the ground or use an ergonomic foot rest.
  • Arm position: Shoulders relaxed and elbows at 90 degrees resting on arm rest. Keep arms close to the body.

Computer monitor

Decrease eye strain by maintaining the monitor at an adequate distance. Look straight, no up or down to prevent strain on the neck.

  • Height: The highest level of text should be at eye level.
  • Distance: The monitor should be approximately one arms length away.
  • Angle: The monitor should be straight up and down, not tilted.

Keyboard and mouse

Decrease stress on wrist musculature and minimize repetitive reaching movements when using the mouse.

  • Mouse location: Directly to the side at the same level as the keyboard.
  • Wrist position: Straight while typing. Not bent upwards or downwards.

Other Tips

  • If you’re frequently on the phone, use a headset.
  • Place the phone on the opposite side of your dominate hand to reduce repetitive motions.
  • Use a document holder at the same height and directly next to the monitor.
  • Frequently get up and stretch. Move around. Walk the hallways.

Now that you have this knowledge, be proactive. Show your coworkers, family, and friends better desk ergonomics to prevent pain before it starts!

Want to learn more positioning techniques that prevent pain?

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Christy Loo, PT, DPT
Christy enjoys spending time with family and friends and being physically active playing a variety of sports. She is frequently outside hiking, fishing, and camping – enjoying nature’s beauty and the fresh open air.