What do migraines, fatigue, blood vessel constriction, jaw pain and digestive issues all have in common? They can all be caused by improper posture.
It might start as an ache in your neck. Maybe your eyes are feeling strained and your vision is blurry. While you might think that the worst that can come from sitting at a desk all day is a sore back, the reality is that poor ergonomics can negatively affect your productivity, your home life and even have lasting effects on your health. With a third of our lives spent on the job – and, for many of us behind a desk – it’s vital to recognize the importance of ergonomics and understand the steps you can take to ensure that you’re comfortable while working.
Most of us don’t realize that your standard workplace desk is not set up for the majority of people in the workplace. Truthfully, the design of a standard desk is perfect for a 6’4” male which is less than 2 per cent of the population! This means that in order to properly configure a desk for 98 per cent of people, you need to utilize keyboard trays and monitor arms to ensure everything is at the proper height.
Here’s my list of the top tips you can use to make sure that you have the best setup possible:
1. Look straight ahead
Your monitor should be at or slightly lower than eye level to prevent strain on your neck. Monitor arms give the ability to easily bring your screens closer to you for easy viewing as well as the ability to swing them farther away to create more desk space when they’re not in use. Ideally, monitors should stay at an arm’s length away from you while you’re in a relaxed, seated position with your eyes looking straight ahead.
2. Stand up
Sit-stand desks are a great way to get a bit more exercise every day while still maintaining your productivity. In addition to giving your legs a stretch, standing while working comes with a ton of other benefits: it prevents Deep Vein Thrombosis (when clots form in your legs as a result of restricted blood flow), it helps keep your blood sugar levels more stable, it prevents you from feeling sluggish and lethargic and it can burn up to 340 additional calories in just two hours! It’s recommended that everyone should stand for 15 minutes every hour.
3. Improve your posture
Maintaining a proper sitting positon is also important to make sure that there is no stress in your back. Your chair should be fully adjustable in height and the seat pan should be able to be moved back and forward, especially if you’re short.
You ideally want a two-inch gap behind your knees to the front of the chair’s seat. Feet should also be flat on the floor. Never lock your chair backrest! Leaving it unlocked will help it move naturally with your body’s motions and prevent your back from being jarred which can lead to injury and added stress on the muscles and ligaments. The use of a footrest can also allow you to ensure your feet are flat on the floor, even when you’re leaning back in your chair. This allows the chair to support your back and relieve stress and pressure on your spine.
4. Type right
Keyboard trays are also a must for anyone who is less than 6’4”. Resting your keyboard on top of a standard desk is going to cause an unnatural position for your wrists which can lead to the dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome. To reduce the risks, keyboards need to be located in a position which allows your forearms and wrists to be aligned in a natural position, not bent. Placing a gel pad under your wrists is a great way to align your forearms and ensure that your wrists are positioned comfortably. Adjustable keyboard trays can also be used to ensure that the height of the keyboard keeps the wrists in-line with your elbows. The keyboard tray also keeps you from leaning forward to type. The armrests of your chair should be adjustable as well so that your shoulders are not raised up. Remember, keeping your body in a normal, relaxed position is the best way to avoid strain.
5. Keep organized
Lastly, positioning items around your desk that you need is an easy one. Make sure that your phone, pens and paper are all within reach so that you don’t need to lean forward or stretch to grab them. Keep frequently-used files like your calendar within arm’s reach so that you can easily grab them without having to lean out of the way. The less you need to lean and twist, the happier your back and core body muscles will be when you go home later.
And, there you have it. Five quick and easy ways to improve your work space, your posture and your overall health! Have any questions? Feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m glad to help. Ready to take a stand against poor posture? Send me a note to request your complementary desk assessment and find out whether your organization qualifies for a free, no obligation Ergotron sit/stand desk. Check out our partner Ergotron’s free online tools to learn more about how poor ergonomics could be effecting you.