Let’s Talk Ergonomics: Posture yourself for success! (Part 1)
We are currently in a season where things look a little different and feel a little different. Whether performing job or school requirements at home for a day, a week, or a month, it is important to know how to set up yourself and your workspace for optimal movement to prevent and reduce aches and pains.
There has been abounding research showing the effects on poor posture and set-up of office spaces on the body, leading to pain and difficulty performing required work/school tasks and maintaining concentration. Remember, while pain may be common, it is NOT normal. Here are some tips for Work-at-Home office set up to help you stay proactive, productive, and pain free! Stay tuned for Let’s Talk Ergonomics: Posture yourself for success!(Part 2), where we will cover specific body position adjustments and exercises you can make to relieve sustained posture-induced pain!
· Design: Is your office chair a wooden one with slats and a pillow cushion from your dining room table? Or, is it a rolling, leather-coated, high-backed chair with “built-in lumbar support”?
· Height: When you sit in the chair, do your legs dangle or are your knees so high that you bump them on the desk every time you move?
· Back: Does the back of your chair recline easily, or is it rigid?
· Armrests: Do they fit underneath your desk, or do they block you from sliding under? Can your seat height be adjusted to address this?
Optimal: The ideal posture for sitting in your chair is one that keeps the knees at 90 degrees while your pelvis and buttock remain against the back of the chair. This is to help get your spine in the most supported position possible. If you need more support, you can roll a small towel and place it between your back and the backrest of the chair below the waistline, though the exact placement may vary person to person. The feet should be flat and firmly planted on a steady surface, whether that be the ground or a stool.
· PC: Is it right in front of you? Is it near the front of the desk or closer to the back? Is the screen eye-level, higher, or lower?
· Laptop: Is it sitting in your lap, on a laptop desk/tray, or on a desk in front of you? Is it on a stand to make it eye-level,or is it flat on the desk?
Optimal: The monitor should be distanced so that the fingertips can gently touch the screen with an outstretched arm, and at a height such that the top of the monitor (not the screen) is in line with the top of the forehead. These adjustments will help to prevent neck or eye strain.
Keyboard & Mouse:
· Keyboard: Does your keyboard sit on the keyboard desk tray, or does it sit on the desk with your computer in front of you? Is your keyboard positioned right in front of the computer screen, or is it to one side or the other? Do you use your laptop keyboard?
· Mouse: Is your mouse separate from your keyboard, or do you use the mouse pad of a laptop? Does your mouse sit on the main level of the desk, or does it fit next to your keyboard on a sliding desk tray? Where is your arm in relation to your body while you use the mouse? Do you have anything supporting your wrist or forearm while you utilize your mouse?
Optimal: In the ideal position, the arms should be able to rest by your sides comfortably, with the elbows at 90 degrees and wrists in neutral when utilizing the keyboard and mouse. If your desk is too high or too low, the wrist is placed out of neutral and tempts the user to lay their wrist on a wrist rest, which has a greater chance to limit blood supply and lead to aggravation of the nerves passing through the wrist, also commonly known as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Here is a Set-Up Checklist from EWI (Ergonomics, Wellness,Innovation) Works which you may print out for reminders and a quick reference guide:
If you are having trouble getting things just right, or want more information on how you can further help yourself get rid of pain and back to your desired work/life-style, please give us a call! We’ll be happy to speak with you over a free screening, or evaluate without a doctor's order to begin the process of restoration. We currently offer both in-office and telehealth services.
Grater, Kristen PT, DPT, Wheeler, Elisabeth PT, DPT. ‘Home Office Ergonomics for Sitting and Standing Desks.’ 24 April 2020. https://www.choosept.com/patientresources/videolibrary/detail/home-office-ergonomics-sitting-standing-desks.
Okamura Corporation. https://www.okamura.com/ed_mea/about_us/posture
PT & Me. 2018. https://ptandme.com/the-ergonomic-workstation/
Rodrigues, Mirela Sant’Ana et al. ‘Differences in Ergonomic and Workstation Factors Between Computer Office Workers with and Without Reported Musculoskeletal Pain.’ 1 Jan. 2017; 563-572. https://doi.org/10.3233/wor-172582.
Van Niekerk, S., Louw, Q.A. & Hillier, S. The effectiveness of a chair intervention in the workplace to reduce musculoskeletal symptoms. A systematic review. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 13, 145(2012). https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2474-13-145.