Working as a Chiropractor in Caulfield, a lot of my patients are office workers, spending up to 10 hours sitting at the desks each day. They often present with very similar symptoms, complaining of low back and neck pain and stiff shoulders and mid backs.
Whilst we do everything we can to restore their bodies to normal function, with treatment, exercise prescription and lifestyle advice, there is still fact that they need to spend a lot of their day seated at their computers. I recommend to all of them to try get up every 30-60 minutes to do some stretching, go for a quick walk or get a drink of water, but equally important is how they sit at their desk when they are there. Today I will talk about the best way to sit at your desk when you have no choice but to spend large chunks of your day there.
To start off with, you want to have a nice, sturdy chair with some lumbar support. Make sure you are able to sit up straight comfortably in your chair, and your back isn’t collapsing in any areas due to the design of the chair.
The general idea of an ergonomic set up is that you want your joints to be either at 90 degrees or 180 degrees and your muscles in a relaxed position. Here is how you achieve that.
- Bring your keyboard as close as possible to the edge of the desk, and tuck your chair in as much as possible. This is to ensure you are not having to lean or reach forward to reach your keyboard. This also allows you to keep your back up nice and straight and your hips at 90 degrees (or slightly more)
- Raise/lower your chair so that your elbows are in line with the keyboard or just above the desk (make sure you shoulders are relaxed down). This is important for helping your shoulders relax and not having to be raised and stiffened in order to reach the keyboard, as well as putting your elbows (90-110°) and wrists (straight) in optimal positions. This include raising or lowering your armrests to allow for these positions.
- Once you have configured your chair height, raise/lower your monitor height so that your eye level is somewhere between the middle and top third of the screen. If your keyboard is not height adjustable, you can put things underneath it to raise its height.
- Make sure the front of the chair is not digging into the back of your knees and keep your knees and ankles at 90 degrees.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor. If, once you have set up all the above, your feet do not reach the floor, invest in a footrest to keep them flat.
- Centre the middle of your keyboard with you nose. The middle will be around the G and H keys.
- Ensure your monitor is around an arms length away. Ensure you are not needing to lean forward or back to see.
- In the case of 2 or more monitors, where 1 monitor is used more than any others, centre the main monitor in front of you and swivel your chair to look at other ones. Having your neck turned to one side for much of the day may cause pain and stiffness.
Using a laptop complicates ergonomic set ups quite a bit. The main advice with them is to set up as above and use a detached keyboard and mouse, and a laptop stand to raise the laptop up to eye level. Using a laptop as is inevitably causes you to be in a poor posture when you use it.
Setting up your work station can be tricky at times, especially if you have unconventional equipment. It is often worth it to have an ergonomics expert in to evaluate and set up your work station. However, in many cases, the above guide will set you up on the right path.
If you have any questions about this guide, or would like to have one of our ergonomics experts come in and evaluate your office in Caulfield and surrounding suburbs, contact a Caulfield Chiropractor here.
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