Many of us work in office environments where we spend hours a day sitting at a desk and working on a computer. The habitual nature of this static activity has resulted in a growing number of pain complaints (especially in the neck, back, and arms) that are reducing worker productivity and can lead to long term chronic pain and disability. Performing a quick risk assessment of your office setup is a great place to start to address potential risks of future discomfort. Making a few small adjustments can make a big difference in the long run for your overall well-being at work.
- The computer monitor should be an arm’s length away from you (20-30 inches away from your eyes) and the top of the screen should be at eye level.
- Choose a font size and style that’s easy to see. Adjust brightness for comfort and to match the ambient lighting in the room while you work.
- Change the screen resolution to a size and color quality that appears best to you.
- Make sure there is no glare from a nearby window on the screen as this will increase eye strain.
** Use a document holder if you reference paper often while typing. If you are constantly looking down to a piece of paper then back up at your screen, your eyes have to refocus each time creating more eye strain
- Adjust the height of the desk if possible so the keyboard is at elbow height (if not adjustable, move the chair to this height).
- Prop up the monitor on a box to ensure it’s at eye level.
- Pick a matte surface if you have the option to reduce glare from windows and overhead lighting.
- The mouse should be a forearm’s distance away so the elbow can stay rested near your side. Overreaching to the mouse can cause shoulder pain over time. Make sure the wrist is straight and neutral.
- Make sure the chair is adjustable.
- Thighs should be parallel to the ground and legs should be perpendicular to the ground when sitting
- Feet must be flat on the ground. Use a footstool if the chair height needs to be higher to fit with the desk
- Sit all the way back in the chair to utilize the full back support, but make sure head, shoulders, and hips are stacked in good alignment on top of each other
- A rounded cushion at the front of the chair (a waterfall edge) helps reduce excessive pressure on the underside of the legs
- Elbows should be resting comfortably at your side bent at 90 degrees
Other factors to consider are the noise, lighting, and room temperature in the office. You may not have control over these factors but they can influence your pain and fatigue at work.
If you are experiencing pain and discomfort with your desk setup, try making the adjustments above. Also, remember to take breaks throughout the day to move around to improve circulation and alter your posture. It’s recommended to take your eyes off the screen and focus them on a faraway object every 30 minutes and get up and move around a bit every hour (at minimum!) You can also try a few desk exercises below to decrease discomfort during the day.
Hand/Wrist: Squeeze your hands into a tight fist and hold for two seconds then open them wide, extend fingers, and spread apart and hold for two seconds. Alternate each five times.
Shoulders: Squeeze shoulders as hard as you can up and hold for two seconds, pull down and hold, squeeze forward and hold, squeeze back and hold. Now circle the shoulders SLOWLY through as big a range of motion as you can clockwise and counterclockwise 5 times each.
Low Back/Hips: Sit in the middle of your chair so you have room on all sides. Roll pelvis backward and slump down as far as you can then roll pelvis forward and sit up as tall as you can and arch back a bit. Alternate back at forth 5 times. Sitting up straight, pick up one side of your butt from the chair and put it back down, then pick up the other side. Try to keep shoulders in place so they don’t sway side to side, instead of using your side abs to pick up your hip.
If your pain symptoms continue we can create a more tailored treatment plan specially for you in your work environment. Just give us a call!