The correct way to sit at your desk
How to make your workstation healthy
Make your workstation healthy by assessing how you sit at your desk. There are improvements you can make to your sitting position to eradicate many of problems associated with sitting at a desk for prolonged periods.
If you spend a considerable time in front of a computer either in the workplace or at home, then aching shoulders, neck, wrist and eye strain will all be familiar ailments. Our bodies are not designed for engaging in such repetitive activities as tapping at a keyboard all day or clicking on a mouse, and your eyes certainly aren’t meant to be staring at a glaring monitor for hours on end.
What makes it all the worse is that many of us then go home and do the same again in an often more poorly laid out workspace. So what can you do to ensure your suffering is minimal? Admittedly, if you sit at a desk for long periods of time, you are going to feel some degree of discomfort afterwards.
The following tips on how to make your workstation more healthy should reduce the effects your daily routines are having on your body.
The perfect workstation position
Your desk sitting position
To set up your workstation to allow you to work in the ideal manner, the following basics should be adhered to:
- Legs: the thighs should be parallel to the floor, while the lower legs should vertical and at 90 degrees to the floor.
- Seat height: the adjustable chair should be altered so that the height is level with the back of the knee when the feet are on the floor or a footrest.
- Arms: the upper arms should hang at a vertical 90 degrees to the desk, and the forearms parallel to the floor. The elbows should be close to the body.
- Wrists: wrists should be straight and not anchored on anything.
- Back: the back should be upright or slightly reclined and not twisted in any way.
- Feet: the feet should be at 90 degrees to the lower portion of the legs.
- Sight: the line of sight should be between being straight ahead and 35 degrees below the horizontal.
Your deskspace equipment
Once you are sitting comfortably and in the correct seating position, it is time to consider all the likely equipment around you and where this should be placed for maximum comfort.
- Keyboard: should be located at a height to enable you to keep your upright posture, with your arms relaxed at your side and a 90 degree angle at the elbows and straight wrists. The wrist rests should be used when resting, not when keying.
- Mouse: should be at the same level as the elbow so it can be accessed with a straight wrist. If being used for long periods the elbow or forearm should be supported and fingers should be rested on the mouse buttons rather than hovering above.
- Monitor: generally speaking should be placed directly in front of you. The height should enable you to see the entire screen without any excessive neck movement. The screen should be tilted to minimize glare.
- Work documents: if you are spending long periods typing from documentation then this should be held in front of you (preferably with a document holder) to prevent neck and eye strain.
- Telephone: the phone should be within easy reach and if you require to type and speak at the same time, then a headset is probably the best option.
- Miscellaneous items: other required items should be in easy reach to prevent unnecessary straining.
Remember to move at your desk
It is important to remember that you are not a machine and sitting in a rigid state to follow all the rules listed is not the perfect way to go about it. Your body is designed to move, so make sure you do.
You could try stretching at your desk by leaning back on your seat and stretching your legs and arms out. To release the pressure from your shoulders and neck caused by sitting with your shoulder hunched up around your ears all day, then try a few shoulder raises.
Also take regular breaks to prevent eye strain and a build up of tension. One way to do this is to be set up to a printer in the workplace that requires you to get up and walk to it, to ensure you stretch your legs.
Apply these sitting tips at home too
Of course all the tips mentioned can be applied to your computer desk at home. You may not think you spend that much time on it at home, but it is likely that even with an hour or two at home using your PC, your time spent sitting in front of a monitor is probably around 10 hours and that is likely to be more than 50 per cent of your time spent awake.