Many of you have been working from home during this pandemic and whether you’ve returned to the office or you continue to work from your kitchen table, we wanted to give you a little refresher course on basic ergonomics. Here are some quick tips on making your home office work for you.
How Should I sit to REduce Pain?
When sitting in an office chair, most joints of the human body – including the elbows, hips, knees, and even the ankles – should be resting at 90-degree angles. Some people may prefer to have a slanted board available to rest their feet on so that it allows them to sit with their knees a little bit straighter.
No matter your office station set-up, take the time to get to know your chair: Practice adjusting the seat height, the tilt of the back support, the amount of lumbar support, and the height and/or width of the armrests, if you’re able to do so.
How High Should My Monitor Be?
Adjust the height of your computer monitor so that the top of the monitor is right at eye level. Ideally, your eyes would need to look down approximately 10 to 20 degrees in order to focus on a graphic in the middle of the screen.
How Should I Position My Mouse and Keyboard?
Arrange your desk so that your mouse and keyboard are both on the same horizontal level so that you don’t have to keep constantly adjusting your shoulder and arm position. Adjust the height of your keyboard so that your wrists can be in a straight line, rather than having to bend your wrists down to reach the keyboard – this way, you reduce the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Some people may prefer to use a gel pad placed near the bottom of their keyboard to rest their wrists on, but this is not necessarily a “have-to-have.” Many keyboards are also adjustable, with tabs located on the backside to help you adjust the tilt of the keyboard to better fit you. Working on a laptop for long periods causes you to have to rotate your elbows out in order to type on a smaller, more compact surface. Therefore, if you are working for longer than an hour at a time, it is better to either do your work on a desktop computer with a keyboard or to invest in a wireless keyboard to connect to your laptop.
How can You Reduce Eyestrain? Try the 20-20-20 Rule
When focusing on a screen for long periods of time, try using the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, focus on an object that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Adjusting your screen to include blue light filters or wearing special glasses to help filter blue light will also help reduce eye strain.
Do I need a standing desk?
Research has shown that staying in any one position for too long can contribute to pain, so even standing at a standing desk for hours on end can be harmful. Our best advice is to stand for 10 minutes out of every hour and spend 2 of those 10 minutes in motion – something as simple as taking a bathroom break or getting a glass of water. Practicing this concept of postural variation, or changing your body position on a more frequent basis, will help keep you in great working shape!
If you’ve been having neck shoulder or even low back pain from sitting at a desk that wasn’t quite set up for you. Give us a call here at the DMU clinic at (515) 271-1717 or visit us at dmu.edu/clinic.