Whether working in an office or working a from home, it is important to appropriately arrange your desk to support your body during prolonged periods of sitting. The muscle and joints in your bodies are designed for movement and aches and pains will often occur as a result of immobility. Whilst taking regular breaks from your desk to walk around or exercise is ideal to stop the build-up of tension, we understand that this can be difficult with certain work-related pressures. Therefore, we have provided a guide below to optimise your desk set-up and reduce the effects of common complaints such as lower back pain, shoulder tension and repetitive strain.
- Your eyes should be level with the top third of the screen- this may mean placing your monitor on a stand or simply a pile of books or raising the height of your chair. This will help maintain appropriate neck and shoulder alignment.
- Your hips and knees should be maintained at 90 degrees – a footstool may be needed to achieve this if the chair has been raised in line with point 1.
- Slide the seat of your chair to the position that allows for a small gap between the edge of your seat and the backs of your knees
- Your screen should be arm’s length away from you and the tilt of your back support adjusted to maintain this position (preventing you leaning forwards or backwards)
- Your lumbar support should be adjusted to follow the natural curve of your lower back, remember everybody is different. Those with a highly curved lower back may benefit from a cushion placed in the small of their back if lumbar support cannot be increased sufficiently.
- Your keyboard and mouse should be as close to you as possible on the desk to prevent overreaching and rounding of the shoulders. Wrist supports/ cushioning or ergonomic mouse can be beneficial if wrists are the area of complaint.
- Your armrests should be adjusted so that your arms are level with the height of the desk creating a 90degree angle at the elbows. Armrests can be highly advantageous and should be used to allow offload strain on shoulders. Many desk workers overuse their shoulders to hold their arms in position rather than utilising the support of armrests.
MULTIPLE SCREENS!!– If you work on multiple screens the use the percentage rule to limit rotation through your neck!
- If you use your screens evenly then place them next to each other so you are looking directly between them.
- If you use one more than the other, shift the favoured screen towards the centre of your vision, only rotating to look at the other screen when required.
LAPTOPS!!- Unfortunately, working on laptops makes it difficult to maintain an optimal posture. Best practise is to place your laptop on a stand or books to elevated to your eyeline and use an external keyboard and mouse that can be placed close to you on the desk.
It is important to remember to take regular breaks from your desk if you can! One key tip is to set yourself TRIGGERS to remind you to get up, stretch, exercises or take a quick walk. These need to be things that happen ‘little and often’ during your working day
Example TRIGGERS could be:
- Every time you receive an email
- Every time you receive a text
- Every time someone says your name