Ergonomic Desk Setup. How To Do It Right!

 

 

Ergonomic Desk Setup. How To Do It Right!

 

Bad sitting posturePeople are spending more and more time sitting at a desk, often slumped in front of a computer, without a thought about ergonomic desk design. In fact, you are probably doing exactly that right now!

I even bet that most of us have just sat up a little straighter after reading that sentence! All it takes is a little reminder sometimes, but usually we get so involved in what is on the screen in front of us that we don't think of how we are sitting, and our posture starts to suffer.

We are using computers so much now, and not just for work but also for leisure, learning and shopping. It is quiet common to spend several hours every day sitting in front of your computer.

So obviously it is very important that we set up our computer desks as best as possible so as to avoid excessive strain on our backs. This is known as ergonomics. The idea is to set up your computer desk (or any work station) so that we can acheive the best possible posture, and minimise the amount of strain on our body.

Long periods of sitting are widely thought to be a major contributor to poor spinal health and back pain.People who sit for long periods of time are also known to more likely be suffering from chronic disease and general poor health (see here).

 

Follow the tips below to set up your back friendly, ergonomic desk!

 

1.        The top of the screen should be at, or just below eye level.  The screen (or a document) should be at a height so that you do not need to crane your head forwards to look at it.

2.        The screen or document should be directly in front so you do not need to twist or turn your head to look at it.

3.        The keyboard should be at the same height or slightly below your elbows, and close enough so that your elbows are hanging relaxed by your sides.

4.        Keep your shoulders relaxed down. Don’t hunch them up.

5.        You hip joints should be slightly more than 90 degrees. Have your knees just below hip height. This rocks your pelvis forwards and stops you slouching so much.

6.        Keep your feet flat on the ground.

7.        Make sure your work surface has enough room for your equipment so everything you use regularly is close to hand.

 

Once you have set up your work station as close to these guidelines as you can, there are a few key points to remember.

 

  • Try to sit as straight and tall as possible. Don’t slouch forwards. Your spine is not supposed to be slumped and curled at the back.
  • Keep your head back, don’t lean or push it forwards. Holding your head forward puts a lot of strain on your neck and can quickly lead to neck pain and headaches.
  • Have regular breaks. The latest consensus is that we should not sit for longer than 20 minutes without getting up and moving. This not only straightens your spine, but also stimulates your brain allowing you to think better! All it takes is walking around for a couple of minutes.

 

Keeping these points in mind, and setting up an ergonomic desk will put the least amount of stress and strain on your body when your are at the computer. All part of nurturing a healthy spine!

 

If you have any questions, or would like to share your own experience, please leave us a comment below.

 

 

 

 

 

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14 Comments

    • Thanks Wojtek.

      Yes many workplaces are being more aware of ergonomics. Our brains actually work more efficiently when we sit straight and have regular breaks!

      Brad

  1. WOW! Maybe I should take some advice from you more often! Right now I’m slouching on my bed with my laptop, I dont think it’s too good for me to be doing!! LOL
    Great article
    Matt TheDopestMatrix

    • Hi Matt,

      I see lots of teens with back pain, and the primary reason in a lot of cases is because they sit on their beds with their laptops. Has to be the worst posture ever!

      Brad

  2. Great article on ergonomic desk setup. With the many hours that we spend in front of a computer, I agree that we need to consider our desk setup. I have a tendency to lean towards my screen while working. Over the years, this has caused problems for my neck. I have a forward head posture that I need to correct. I’m going to take your advice.

    • Hi Peter,

      Yes, that forward head posture is become extremely common.
      I am working on another program specifically dealing with this issue!

      Brad

  3. Read this while oddly hunched over at my sofa. I remember the old office I worked at had this one the wall. Its the small things we forget! The same applies to eyes, and looking out in the distance every once in a while to give your eyes a break from the screen.

    • Hi Chris,

      Absolutely! The small things, and old fashioned advice, are being forgotten, particularly regarding our health and wellbeing.

      You’re right that eye problems are also increasing because of screens, we are becoming more nearsighted and centrally focused (less aware of our peripheral visual fields as a result of staring at computer screens.

      Get off that sofa Chris, it sounds like it’s not doing you any favours.

      All the best,
      Brad

  4. Keeping your back in an optimal straight position is important, particularly when sitting at a desk, because if it’s not, then it sure can cause long-term back pain. I know from experience lol!

    Thanks for sharing this post!

    • Nice to hear from you Colton! I hope this has helped you set up your workstation more ergonomically. Gotta look after your back man!

      Dr. Brad

  5. Great ergonomic desk set up information. I sit at a desk for at least 8 hours a day and often get a sore back and shoulders. I have changed my set up and have felt my shoulders aren’t as stiff and sore at the end of the day. Thank you! I also get really sore wrists and forearms. Do you have you any tips to help relieve this. If so, I’d love to hear about them. Thanks Again, Jenny

    • HI Jenny,

      I am glad that changing your desk set up has helped. Also be sure to take regular breaks from sitting through the day to look after your back as well!

      It is good to stretch your forearms to relieve built up tension. Hold one hand straight out in front of you like you are telling someone to ‘stop’, then with the other hand gently pull your fingers back towards you and hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Then stretch the other way by pulling the back of your hand downwards. Repeat on the other side!

      You may need to do this several times a day if you type a lot.

      All the best,
      Dr Brad

  6. Since I spend most of my time at a computer, this is a very helpful article! I feel like I do most of it correctly, but it turns out I’m off by a bit in some areas. I have trouble keeping my feet flat on the ground for one. Thank you for your help!

    • Hey Raphael,

      It sounds like you might need to lower your chair just a bit! Unfortunately you may then need to change everything else to suit!

      The good news is, once you have the correct set up, you are all set from then on in. It is worth the small effort it takes.

      Have an amazing day!

      Dr Brad

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