Sitting for long periods of time behind a computer can take its toll on your body. Not having the correct posture can result in back pain, knee pain, neck pain, and tingling in your hands and fingers.
If you spend a lot of time sitting behind a computer screen, have you properly assessed your working environment? Working in uncomfortable or inappropriate position for long periods of time can cause significant repercussions to your health. Here are my tips for making a comfortable working environment.
As standard most desks are between 28-30″ high. This is a good sitting height for most people between 5’8″ and 5’10” tall, using a conventional chair. Obviously if you are taller or shorter you are going to have to make adjustments to work at a comfortable height.
Your desk should also be of a suitable size for the work you are undertaking. If you need additional resources nearby, such as an easel, the work surface needs to be big enough to accommodate.
Having an appropriate chair is essential. It needs to have a high back to give you the support your need. Ideally you want one that is height adjustable (especially if you are above or below the heights detailed above). This will allow you to adjust to the height of your desk. Arm rests are a bonus, if they are at the correct height, as you can rest your elbows whilst typing.
Some chairs will come with an adjustable lumbar support. However, if yours doesn’t, you can purchase a separate support to fit over your existing chair.
I also like chairs that you can tilt slightly.
You should have your feet flat on the floor, if you are able to. If you can’t reach the floor (like me!) then you should invest in a foot stool. I personally prefer the height adjustable ones as I only need a fairly low stool, so it gives me the option to raise as much as I need.
The top of your screen should be at eye level. This allows your eyes to look down the screen without causing unnecessary strain. If it’s too low you can purchase an adjustable riser, even for a laptop, to get your screen to the correct height.
It is recommended to have your screen at an arm’s length away from you to avoid squinting and straining, or from pressure of the screen being too close.
Something important to remember is the position of your screen. If your screen is facing a window or door that lets in a lot of light, you will spend the day squinting or moving around due reflections on your screen.
I personally like to have a slight incline on my keyboard so always opt for on that has risers. There are also options available with a wrist rest which makes it more comfortable when you are typing for long periods of time. If your keyboard doesn’t include a wrist rest, there are gel wrist supports you can purchase separately to give you the support.
You need to have at least 4-6 inches in front of your keyboard to comfortably rest your wrists and support your forearms.
As with the keyboard, if you spend a lot of time using your mouse, it is a good idea to invest in a mouse mat with a wrist support. This will take some of the pressure when in use.
If you spend a significant amount of your day on the phone, avoid straining your neck and invest in a headset, or a handsfree kit. It will give you the flexibility of being able to type or make notes, without causing unnecessary discomfort.
Using a Laptop?
I am a laptop user myself. However, I like to have a separate keyboard and mouse when I’m working from my home office. I find it much easier and more comfortable for my seating position. I also use a laptop riser to ensure the screen is at an appropriate height.
Correct Seating Position
To recap on the above and highlight the points on the correct seating position, you should have:
- The top of your monitor at eye level;
- Your monitor at an arm’s length;
- Your back should be tall and straight;
- Elbows resting on arm rest, with forearms slightly angled downwards to the keyboard;
- Mouse and keyboard should be close;
- If using an easel, this should be located between the keyboard and your screen;
- The back of your chair slightly reclined;
- Use a lumbar support to fit lower back curve;
- Chair height adjusted so thighs are parallel to the floor, or just below the horizontal line;
- Feet should be flat on the floor.
For more tips and ideas on the correct posture and positioning, check out this assessment from the Health & Safety Executive http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/ck1.pdf
Spending too much time behind your desk instead of in front of your customers? Why not contact us to find out how I could free up your time to focus on what you do best.