The human body was not built to be sitting in front of the computer 48 hours per week. Sadly, since most of our contemporary work involves computers, this is almost always the case. One way or another, most people have already experienced back and neck pains at the computer desks. You could have at least one point of your life witnessed some of those problems mentioned.
The good news is that there’s something you can do about it. In this article, we can talk about proper posture, proper chair and desk measurements, some expensive and not so expensive tools of the trade, and some alternative methods.
Sandwich these with some real-life scenarios that some people overcame using very simple DYI projects.
Hint: they now use standing desks while taking off a few pounds in the process. Read on to know more!
First, here are some interesting facts. The term computer desk ergonomics is a misnomer. Ergonomics is actually the way the human body interacts with a physical set up at work, which is usually the desk, computer and chair. It’s silly, yes, but it’s good to know.
Let’s move on with some of the basics of ergonomics:
It is the position of your body with which provides you with minimum strain on the muscles and ligaments. It’s very applicable when sitting, standing, lifting weights and even running or walking, or other weight-bearing activities. Proper posture will make you feel better, prevent fatigue back pain and muscle pain as well as giving you a better appearance.
Since we are talking about computer desk ergonomics, we will primarily focus on some good sitting postures and positions. To start of, consider the following advice:
- Sit up with a back support such as a rolled towel or a specialized device tied to your chair.
- Sit up with a straight back and shoulders. You should be able to feel your buttocks touching the back of the chair.
- Sit with both buttocks on the seat.
- Try to rearrange your sitting position every 30 minutes or so. You can also stand up every 30 minutes as an alternative. Exercise every hour or so. You can do this by pacing around your cubicle, climbing a set of stairs, standing and stretching.
- Sit with both feet on the floor.
- Upon standing up, try not to bend your back. First, move forward, straighten your legs and then stand up, stretching as soon as you can.
- Do not slouch.
- Do not cross your legs. Always place your knees at a 90 degrees angle.
- Do not twist your waist when sitting.
Working Around Your…
Get a pen and paper and list down the dimensions of your desks. The maximum ideal height (length from the floor to the surface) for a desk is: 33 inches. The maximum ideal depth (or the vertical length of your desk) is 30 inches.
You may not be able to feel comfortable with these measurements. Try on some desks first to see what works for you. Some people have actually used standing desks. They have reported some good effects. Sure, the first three days were torture for their feet, but it got better.
Why not try standing up while working on the computer? You may be able to elevate your desk with a wooden box to try it out. If it works for you and you’re ready to ditch the makeshift box, there are many adjustable desks that allow you to both sit and stand or you can opt for a high desk dedicated to standing.
If you do choose to work while standing, it’s recommended that you also get some kind of a platform or balance board that will take all of the stress off your heels and provide ergonomic comfort.
Here are some ways you can improve your workstation.
A swiveling chair with wheels is the norm in the office for a reason. Get the right saddle cushion for it. If you are sitting almost all of the time, try to purchase a one with foam of an egg crate design. This is to evenly distribute your weight. Here are some other useful tips:
- Adjust the height of the chair. The right height would allow you to rest both of your hands into the table comfortably at a 90 degree angle. The right condition will also allow your feet both on the floor without much effort.
- Sit in a way that the lower back can be supported properly. That means you can feel your buttocks touching the back of the chair. If you cannot do that, try to determine if it’s your posture or the chair talking.
Of course, it does not mean you have to buy one. Just place it where your eyes are level with the screen. If you cannot do that, you may have to purchase a stand to support your monitor. Save up with using a book or two. At any rate, the screen should not be glaring.
Check the right position of the screen with a mirror. The tilt of the screen should be in a way that you will not be able to see the reflection. As an additional measure, try to work away from heavily sun-lit areas.
Adjust the brightness with curtains or Venetian blinds.
Also, adjust the brightness and contrast of your computer screen. Alternatively, you can install a cheap anti-UV screen over your monitor to lessen the glare.
Place it about 4 to 6 inches away from your lower forearms while encoding. Always pose your wrists at the right angle when doing this. You may have to get a wrist rest if you are doing a lot of typing to prevent wrist strain. Get your mouse as close as you can. A mouse mat with a built-in wrist support will be a nice addition, although a separate wrist rest can suffice.
Unfortunately, working with bifocals is not ideal for computer work. Ask your eye doctor on alternative ones.
Place Things in the Right Places
Put your regularly used telephone, stapler, or pens within easy reach. As much as possible, reduce the times when you have to stretch or twist to reach out these things.
This is the summary of the things you may need to make your working station less stressful as possible:
- Foot rest for the vertically challenged
- Laptop or monitor stand
- UV Screen protector
- Wrist rest
- Mouse pad/mat with or without a wrist support
- Arm rest for your chair
- Lumbar support for your chair
Here you are! You have actually read at least a thousand word article. That’s ergonomics for you: a lot of things to be considered!