Does your job require you to work in front of a computer for eight or more hours per day? It’s not uncommon for ‘office workers’ to develop pain in their back, neck and wrists. While some cases are minor and go away without the need for medical attention, others are more severe and longer lasting. The good news is that you can often prevent musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as this by maintaining an ergonomic workstation.
Feet on the Floor
The golden rule when operating a computer is to keep your feet planted on the floor, about shoulder-width apart. You should attempt to sit with your legs crosses or with your feet propped up, as this will only bend and strain the spine in an unnatural manner. Keep your feet on the floor at all times to ensure the spine is straight.
Eyes Should be Level to Top of Monitor
Another essential step in maintaining an ergonomic computer workstation is to adjust your chair and/or monitor height so your eyes are parallel to the top of your monitor. If your eyes rest above this height, you’ll be forced to look down, which could strain your eyes and neck (the same goes for when your eyes rest below this height). Adjusting the height of either your monitor or chair should resolve this problem.
Wrists and Shoulders Relaxed
Keep both your wrists and shoulders relaxed when using the computer. Ideally, you should use a computer desk with a slide-out keyboard and mouse tray, as this offers the platform on which to rest your wrists. Whether your desk has a slide-out tray or not, though, you should still keep your shoulders and wrists relaxed to prevent tension buildup.
Use an Ergonomic Chair
Not all desk chairs are made equal. While some of them are designed to contour to the human body, others are not. When choosing an office chair, make sure it offers ample support for the lower back (lumbar). Without support here, your spine will be forced to curve when sitting.
Take Regular Breaks
Even if you follow all of the aforementioned tips listed above, you should still get into the habit of taking regular breaks when operating the computer. Sitting for long periods at a time can wreck havoc on the body in more ways than just one, slowing down blood circulation, lowering metabolism, and promoting weight gain.