Tips to design a workstation to prevent aches and pains
Ever spent a day at work shifting around in your chair, squinting to see a screen, or hunched over a keyboard? Or maybe your work-at-home space during the pandemic isn’t exactly ergonomically friendly.
Research shows poor ergonomics can be a recipe for bad posture, back aches, eye strain, headaches, neck and shoulder tension, and other problems. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Making a few adjustments to your workspace, and what you do during your workday can make a big difference. Here are some things you can do:
Put it in neutral. It doesn’t matter if you spend most of the day sitting or standing, you should aim for neutral alignment. That’s fancy for: Practice good posture. Once an hour, look to see if your ears are over the shoulders, and the shoulders are over the hips.
Chair check. If you spend a lot of time at work sitting, check your chair. Poor posture and too much sitting are some of the most common reasons for lower back pain. Here are some things to keep in mind.
- Your knees should be at a 90-degree angle (use a foot rest if you need to).
- Adjust arm rests below elbows and only use when resting, not typing
- Use a chair with lumbar support (or an attachable cushion), and adjust to match the curve of your back.
- Adjust seat depth. Aim for a two-inch space between the back of the knee and the edge of the chair.
Sit less..move more. Stand up and stretch every hour. Get up and move around. Go for a walk. You’ll reduce strain on your body from sitting for long periods of times. Or consider using a stand-up desk.
Monitor moves. If you’re working in front of a screen for hours, making small adjustments to the monitor can help prevent neck and shoulder pain, eye strain, and other problems.
- Your eyes should be at least 25 inches from your screen or monitor.
- Adjust monitor to mid-forehead height, or lower if you wear bi- or tri-focal glasses.
- Tilt the top of the monitor back slightly farther than the bottom of the eyes.
- Don’t squint. If you’re having trouble seeing, increase the font size or viewable screen size.Eliminate glare. Sunlight should not be directly hitting the monitor. If this is the case, shut the blinds. Clean monitors regularly to remove dust.
- Wink and blink. Rest your eyes at least every hour by focusing on something several feet away. Look away from the monitor, and do something else for a brief period before returning to the screen.
- Schedule an annual exam to get your eyes checked. Consider purchasing computer glasses.
Keyboard & mouse check. Tapping away on the keyboard or clicking a mouse for hours might seem like a simple thing. But it can take a toll on your hands, wrists, and fingers if ergonomics are off. Keep your elbows at or just below 90 degrees. Your wrists should be straight and downward slightly. And don’t use the legs on the back side of keyboard.
Take a closer look at your workstation, chair, monitor and keyboard. And think about this…how many hours per day do you spend sitting? Then make adjustments to create an ergonomically-friendly work space.
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