Improving Your Workstation: Ergonomics
What is ergonomics?
Ergonomics includes the environment in which you work and how it is arranged. Without arranging your workstation appropriately, your posture is not optimal, resulting in stressed muscles and joints. When your body is stressed from poor positioning, you are at risk for potential injuries, overused muscles and joints, and increased pain.
How can you improve what you have?
Adjust your chair so that your knees are slightly higher than the seat with your entire foot on the floor. If needed, place a stool or stack of books under your feet to achieve this position.
Sit in your chair so that the back of your knees DO NOT touch the edge. Two or three fingers-widths between your knees and the chair edge is ideal.
If you have armrests, both forearms should rest comfortably on them without causing you to shrug your shoulders. If possible, adjust the height of the armrests so that your shoulders are relaxed and your elbows are bent at a 90 degree angle. Also, adjust the width so that your arms are right at your side.
When typing, the keyboard should be at a height that allows your elbows to be at your side with your shoulders relaxed and forearms parallel to the floor. Drop down trays are ideal, but a pillow in your lap with the keyboard resting on the pillow is another potential solution.
You should not have to reach your arms out to type. Keep the keyboard at the edge of the desk. Ideally, the mouse will be right next to the keyboard so that you do not have to reach for it.
When using the keyboard, keep your wrists in a neutral position or slightly “up”. Your wrists should not contact the keyboard; instead, they should hover.
Keep your monitor directly in front of you at about 18-24 inches. The top line on the screen should at the height of your eyes.
If you have 2 monitors, they should both be directly in front of you. There should be approximately 2 inches between the screens, and that gap should be directly in front of you. This will prevent you from having to turn your head to view the 2 screens. Instead, you will be able to scan your eyes.
If possible, place the monitor at a 90 degree angle from the window to reduce glare and washout.
If you are copying items from a document, put that document directly in front of you between the keyboard and the computer to prevent excessive neck rotation while typing.
Other tips to decrease risk of pain
Change positions and move throughout the day! Stand at least once every 60 minutes.
Drinking lots of water and taking bathroom breaks is a great way to get up and moving.
Break errands up to give you a chance to move around throughout the day.
Give your eyes a break from staring at a screen! Stare at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.