Are you sitting at your work desk reading this blog?
Good! Stop for a minute. Notice the position and tension within your body while seated. It is common for those tied to their office desk to grow used to various aches and pains.
You may find that your eyes grow tired from staring at the computer screen for long periods of time, your back aches from slumping in your desk chair, your elbow and wrist freeze from using the computer mouse and keyboard, and by the end of your day, you feel like your mind is as foggy as the San Francisco Bay. Sitting at a desk is taking a toll on you body, mind, and overall health!
Sitting for 8 to 10 hours a day can cause your back to ache, hips to tighten, and your shoulders and neck stiffen which greatly impacts your flexibility and can speed up degeneration of muscles and bones. Moreover, not having the proper sitting arrangement at work can increase your likelihood of diabetes, certain cancers, obesity, osteoporosis, arthritis, varicose veins, heart disease, degenerative disc, anxiety, and depression. Luckily, there is an answer to your postural pains:
No, we are not going back to school to crunch numbers. Ergonomics is essentially the study of one’s abilities in relation to his or her workplace. Trending and more ergonomic options like treadmill desks, standing desks, and convertible work spaces are among several ways to adapt your work environment to better fit you. However, there are many ways to simply improve what you are already working with at your sitting desk.
Your office can become more ergonomic by simply customizing your work environment to the needs of your mind and body and here’s how to begin.
Look at Your Computer Monitor
Your computer monitor should be situated at a negative 10 to 20 degree angle and about 18 to 20 inches from your eyes. A good way to test this is by holding your arm straight and directly in front of you. Where your fingertips end is typically a safe distance to place your monitor from your eyes. Your eye height should rest normally toward the top edge of the computer monitor screen. To test that your placement is appropriate, open your internet browser, sit back in the proper position, close your eyes and reopen. Your eyes should fall on the address bar of the browser. Every 15 minutes or so, take 30-60 seconds to glance away from the screen to avoid eye muscle fatigue.
Check Your Keyboard and Mouse
Your keyboard and mouse should rest directly below your monitor so that when sitting it is about about one to two inches directly above your thighs. The easiest way to achieve this is by adding an adjustable keyboard tray. You can also try using a keyboard without a number pad to help keep your body centered and balanced. Moreover, avoid using the kickstands on your keyboard to improve the tension of your neck and shoulders. While seated, ensure that your elbows remain at a comfortable 90 degree angle (this tip can also apply to standing desk options).
Situate Your Desk Chair
Your office chair height should sit so that at the bend of your knee, there is a 90 degree angle allowing your feet to rest flat on the floor beneath you. There should be a small fist-sized space between the chair and the bend in each knee. Remember, if you are what I like to call fun size (short), a foot rest may be a good alternative to the floor. If you are tall, then you may need to consider adjusting the height of your desk by adding risers or another alternative adjustment.
The most important tip is to keep moving! Get up at least once an hour to keep your blood circulating and the aches and pains at bay.
To fit your office to your needs try adjusting your computer monitor, mouse and keyboard and office chair, but most importantly, get up and move!
– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC