The Correct Way to Sit at Your Computer Workstation
There is growing evidence that there needs to be flexibility in the way we sit at your
computer workstation, especially for those who work at home.
While there is not one correct way, seating should support postures that can be changed frequently within a comfortable range throughout the day.
It should accommodate the:
- work being done
- visual demands
- Workers’ individual
Did you know that sitting at your desk for prolonged periods is a static posture that has the potential to result in musculo skeletal disorders?
A few good work practices can significantly reduce risks of fatigue and strain on the neck, shoulders, back and legs.
Please remember that the smallest changes can make the world of difference!
Setting up your workstation properly may be the single easiest way to prevent injuries.
These are guidelines provide you with a simple workstation self-assessment.
Included in this guide to ergonomically set up your workstation I have a set of stretching exercises to help maintain good posture and flexibility throughout your working day.
Proper office ergonomics — including correct chair height, adequate equipment spacing and good desk posture — can help you and your joints stay comfortable at work.
A comfortable work space can help you feel your best.
Did you know that sitting at your desk for prolonged periods is a static posture?
And that has the potential to result in many musculoskeletal disorders if not managed?
I have trained in and practiced for many years in repairing and resolving multiple musculoskeletal soft tissue injuries due to bad posture and poorly designed computer workstations.
For the past 28 years I have treated clients with significant neck and shoulder injuries; lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraine and the list could go on.
My field of expertise is remedial physical therapy.
So with this experience behind me I wanted to set about creating an ergonomic checklist for people who work at a computer workstation.
The checklist is not only for those who work in an office space but importantly for those who work at home and may not have the resources or facility to set up their workstations properly.
Don’t forget that poor postures can be adopted at home too and not just in the workplace…
So here are a few good work practices which can significantly reduce musculoskeletal injury and risk:
- Make sure your workstation is set up to suit your individual needs.
- Get up from your desk at least every 30-60 minutes and move around. Avoid prolonged static postures.
- Breathe deeply to get more oxygen to your muscles.
- Have a good working posture and maintain the natural curves of your back when seated (i.e. no slouching).
- Vary your work tasks. Break up long periods of continuous computer use by performing small tasks/errands.
- Strive to change any poor postural habits when sitting.
Checklist for your home office set up.
Chair Correct Set Up
Back rest angle:
Firstly, are you sitting in an upright position whilst supported by a back rest?
The chair back rest should support the lower area of your back.
Make sure to adjust the bump in the backrest so it sits in the curve of your back.
That being the lumbar curve of your spine
When sitting back in the chair, there is a gap between the front of the seat and back of your calf / leg.
Adjust chair seat forward or backward if needed, ideally there should be a 4cm gap.
Raise chair height so that elbows are in line with top of desk.
Check that thighs are angled slightly downward or parallel to the floor with feet resting comfortably on the floor or on a footrest.
Your knees and hips should be at 90°.
If feet are not flat on the floor, you will need a footrest.
The chair armrests allow you to sit close to the desk and your shoulders are relaxed and elbows close in by your side.
If the armrests stop you getting close to your desk, remove them. You don’t want to be overreaching or leaning forward out of your chair.
Keep elbows at the height of your desk.
Desk Correct set up and Height and leg space:
Your shoulders are relaxed and elbows by your side when typing or using the mouse and the area underneath your desk has adequate leg clearance.
Therefore, your elbows are at 90° and at the height of your desk.
Underneath desk area is cleared and not used as storage area.
Keyboard and Mouse Correct Set Up and Keyboard distance and height:
The keyboard is directly in front of you, with your elbows close to your body and shoulders relaxed.
The keyboard is flat and allows for wrists to be maintained in a neutral position.
The mouse is located near the keyboard and your arm is close to your body. So it can be accessed without overreaching.
Monitor Correct Set Up and Distance:
You can reach out with one arm and touch the monitor.
For those wearing glasses you may need to position the screen slightly closer or further away than one arm length away, depending on your type of vision.
The top of the monitor is at the same height as your eyes.
For those using bifocal glasses you may need to position the monitor slightly lower.
They are set up according to how much you use each of them. For example, your primary monitor is in the middle and the secondary to one side OR both monitors positioned directly in front.
Font is set to a comfortable size / setting to minimise eye fatigue. Recommended size is between 12 to16.
You should also regularly look away from the screen and into the distance to rest your eyes.
Other Correct Set Up of Laptop:
When working from just the laptop for prolonged periods of time you use a separate keyboard, mouse, and raise the height of the screen
You use a headset when speaking on the phone regularly or for extended periods of time (it’s important to avoid necking the phone)
Frequently used objects are easily within your reach and spread across the left and right side. Removal of desk clutter to allow easy access to computer / writing / reading.
You stand from your chair at least once every hour to prevent prolonged static postures and minimise muscle tension.