Do you ever experience shoulder pain or neck aches while working at your computer workstation? How about low back pain or wrist pain? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then you need to look at the way you sit at your computer desk. Slight adjustments made regularly to the computer desk setup can prove very useful in minimizing your risk for injury and making your computer workstation ergonomically friendly. It may also prevent injuries such as carpel tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, etc.
There are a few key things to remember while sitting at your computer workstation.
The first thing to consider is your posture. Sit straight with your head upright and your shoulders relaxed. Your forearms should be held horizontally and your backrest should support the lower part of you back with your feet firmly placed on the floor or on a footrest. A footrest could be used to position the hip, knee and the ankle joints in a neutral alignment.
Adjusting your computer chair is the next thing to consider. Determine the adjustability features of your computer chair and experiment with their maximum and minimum ranges. For example, the seat height, the backrest height, the armrest height, the seat depth and the seat tilt. Your chair should be set-up with respect to your computer workstation so the top line of the text on the computer screen should be at eye level or slightly below eye level. This can be achieved by adjusting the seat to floor height of your chair or by placing the monitor on a riser. An ergonomic keyboard should be placed at the same level as the mouse and these items should be positioned on a drop down keyboard tray. Make sure that there is some room between the top of your thigh and the keyboard tray to allow for a comfortable and a neutral hip and knee positions. A keyboard tray should also be adjustable in terms of its tilt angles to promote neutral wrist position.
The next thing to consider is the environment conditions around you. If there is low lighting around your computer workstation, consider utilizing a desk lamp. Along the same lines, minimizing glare is an important factor to consider as it may cause eye strain. Glare can be minimized by adjusting the monitor into a vertical position or using a light coloured background on the screen.
The last thing that needs to be considered is the job design which includes taking your scheduled breaks and taking stretch breaks (10 seconds to 1 minute long) regularly which allows you to relax your muscles and change your posture. It is important to remember that alternating between different work tasks and stretching regularly ensures that your body joints maintain their flexibility. This also enables you to work more effectively.
Within Vancouver, each workplace requires different practices to ensure your safety. Please contact the trained Occupational Therapists at Complete Rehab Solutions to see if an ergonomic assessment is suitable for you. We can provide recommendations for safe working practices to ensure that you work healthier for much longer.
REMEMBER: You only have one body, so learn to take care of it properly.