Many of us spend more time at our desks than any other place. While the risk of injury while seated can seem very unlikely, spending hours in a poorly set up workspace can place vast amounts of pressure on your body and lead to overuse injuries. Below are a few tips that can help you set up your workstation correctly.
Starting with the height of your chair is the best place to begin. Ideally, your feet should be flat on the floor, and if you can adjust the height of the chair, your thighs should be parallel to the floor. If your chair has armrests, they should be low enough to allow your elbows to sit comfortably between 90-110 degrees and resting by the side of your body. A small cushion or rolled-up towel may be added to the back of the chair to add support to the lower back, and this can also help to prevent slouching.
If you are unable to adjust your chair and it is too high, you can use a footrest to allow them to rest comfortably.
The height of your desk should be set so that your arms can rest comfortably at the keyboard and hands, wrists and forearms can sit in a neutral position and parallel to the floor. Where possible, put everything you need within easy reach and alternate days using your mouse and phone with different hands-on different days.
The height of your computer should be raised so that the top of the screen is slightly below eye level. Allowing your neck to rest in a neutral position can help to prevent neck pain and headaches. Ideally, if you can set the screen to be 20-40 inches away from your face, this will reduce strain on your eyes while reading.
Some other tips
Being comfortable is extremely important for productivity and focus if you are struggling with pain; your work will often suffer. Even joint stiffness and muscle tightness can disrupt your workflow, and taking the time to adjust your workstation can save you countless hours in the long run and prevent painful overuse injuries.
Taking active breaks from sitting to move and stretch can help to maintain muscle and joint health, which can be compromised from being in the same posture too long. You can set a timer or make an active effort to take phone calls and meetings while standing.
Speak to your physiotherapist for personalized advice on your workplace setup.