Ergonomic Desk Setup. How To Do It Right!
People 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.