Two plus years working from the couch and kitchen table had my back and wrists all cranky, to say the least. Hence, I recently set up a permanent workstation, taking into account some best ergonomic practices that I’ve garnered over 14 years of some-sort-of-desk-job history. I’m happy to report that, almost immediately, my back and wrists graciously behaved as a result of my mostly-minor modifications. I figured yawl (that’s how we do in the East) might benefit from a handy check list of 10 things to consider when settling down for a day – or 14 years – of your own desk work. The list is just a guide on seated positioning, so I didn’t hit on adjustable tables, standing workstations, glare, or any helpful exercises. See the resources at the end of this post for more ergo tips and gear.
1. Keep your head aligned over shoulders; don’t stretch neck forward.
2. Your eyeballs should be looking straight ahead, not up or down. To achieve this, the top of your monitor needs to be no higher than eye level. You might need a riser to help lift your laptop or monitor to a good, eyeballs-dead-center position. A chair with adjustable height may help here as well.
3. Sit as far away from the screen as comfortably possible.
4. Shoulders should be relaxed and comfortable, not raised or hunched forward.
5. Keyboard should be at seated elbow height. This really helps with keeping shoulders relaxed and lowered and is the one thing that can make or break my back. Being pretty darn short, either I can saw a couple inches off my desk legs, or use a keyboard tray to make this happen. Laptop users: consider using a real keyboard at your workstation.
6. Elbows should be at a 90 degree angle. Again, a keyboard tray can work wonders here.
7. Typing wrists should be straight, parallel to floor. Support non-typing wrists with a wrist rest or arm rests. Laptop users: consider using a real mouse at your workstation.
8. Support the curve in low back. Either your chair will have some sort of lumbar support, or a pillow or a back rest will do the same.
9. Feet flat on floor or foot rest. Footrests can help here, fyi.
10. Take breaks! Move! Really! It helps! A lot! You know you should, so I’ll stop shouting and nagging and trust you on this one.
In case you’re wondering, here’s what this all looks like in practice:
Also, if you want to get nitty-gritty, then check out Ergotron’s Workspace Planner, which takes your height and returns customized measurements for your sweet, sweet workstation.
Once you’re in a good working position, you should be able to feel it in some way. And although these may seem like a lot of steps, it’s really pretty easy to implement at least a few of them. Good luck and happy, ache-free computing to you!
Excellent, detailed info here, and note the reference and resource links throughout: http://ergo.human.cornell.edu/ergoguide.html
Some good workstation images: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/computerworkstations/
I like these articles. The first is handy for straight-up, non-workstation laptop use, and the second post addresses eye strain towards the end: http://dailydiy.com/category/ergonomics/
There are some good stretches listed here: http://dohs.ors.od.nih.gov/ergo_computers.htm
A start for researching ergo equipment that runs the price range gamut. There are a ton of resources online, this one just happens to come up first; I like their website; they have a “green” section, which I also like: http://www.ergopro.com/
Be still my heart! PRICEY, but i’m saving my allowance this year (all year) for this beaut: