1.) Optimize Your Desk Setup
Not all desks or chairs are created equal. Here are some tips and tricks to follow when setting up your workstation.
- Height: Your chair height should be just high enough so that your feet are flat on the floor and your hips are just slightly elevated above your knees.
- Back: The back of the chair should be perpendicular to the floor or very slightly tilted back (sorry, you don’t get to lean back and kick your feet up on this one). The curvature of the chair should support the low back enough so that it prevents you from slouching. Even those desk chairs that appear “ergonomic” often don’t have enough back support to hold us upright against our own body weight. If you don’t feel supported, look into one of these lumbar rolls.
- Armrests: Not every chair requires arm rests, but if you will be typing for long periods of time, it’s not a bad idea to have them. If you do have armrests, they should be low enough that they support your elbows at a 90 degree angle and allow your shoulders to relax. Most importantly, they should be able to slide underneath your desk, allowing you to be close to your keyboard.
Hint: So what if you are out to eat, or in class… and don’t have your really cool lumbar roll or ergonomic equipment on hand? Lean slightly forward and wedge your butt into the back of your chair. With your feet firmly on the ground, lean back gently on your chair. As a bonus, roll up a sweater and place it in the small of your back. Voila! A makeshift lumbar support.
Your desk should be high enough to clear your knees at a minimum. If your desk is too tall, raise up your chair and place a footstool under the desk to support your feet. Most importantly, your desk height should support the most ergonomic monitor height and keyboard placement. Let’s dive in.
Your monitor should sit about two feet in front of your face. The top of the monitor should be just below eye level so your eyes are looking subtly down at the computer screen. Remember, your neck should remain in a neutral position while your eyes look down. For most people, their monitor height is too low and encourages an excess amount of flexion “bending” in the neck. This means you likely need a monitor stand or monitor arm to raise up your monitor to keep your neck in alignment. This is no different for laptops,! Ideally, your laptop needs to be at or just below eye-level. Great thing is, they make some pretty fancy laptop stands these days that would be worth looking into.
Let your arms hang naturally by your sides. Keep your elbows in place and bend your arms to a 90 degree angle. Take a deep breath and relax your upper traps (shoulder muscles). Now hold that relaxed position and place a keyboard directly under your hands. If you are like most people, your desk setup likely encourages you to reach forward to your keyboard. This can place excess stress on your muscles and tendons and lead to common desk injuries like carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, and pinched nerves. Don’t let your keyboard get away from you, look into a sliding keyboard tray or roll your chair up directly to your desk so you don’t have to reach or lean forward.
Click here to check out another great article on the best equipment to help you maximize productivity while working from home.