Ergonomic workstations: The simple answer to workday pains

March 29, 2017

Whether it’s the 40+ hours every week you spend at work or the free time you spend at home (or both), most of us use computers on a daily basis. Over the years, it’s not uncommon for continuous computer usage to cause or exacerbate muscle and joint pain. These pains often develop subtly and over time, so you may not make the connection between these aches and the amount of time spend at your desk.

While you can make efforts to reduce your personal computer time, you may not have that option at work, so what can you do? Follow these four easy steps to create an ergonomic workstation and avoid or mitigate these pains:

  • Change how you sit. Push your hips back as far as possible and position your feet flat on the floor so your knees are equal to—or slightly lower than—your hips. Adjust your chair back to a 100- or 110-degree reclined angle that supports your back and remove the armrests or position them so your shoulders are relaxed. Also, remember that sitting in any position for more than 20 minutes can contribute to back pain, so shift your position as often as you can to avoid long periods of inactivity.
  • Position your keyboard correctly. We recommend an articulating keyboard tray that accommodates your mouse and leaves enough room for leg comfort and easy access to the rest of your desk. Keep your keyboard close and directly in front of you, so your shoulders are relaxed and your wrists are not resting on palm supports while typing. Lightly gripping your mouse or investing in an ergonomic one is another way to reduce wrist and finger pain.
  • Adjust your monitor. Your monitor should be directly in front of you, not set off to either side, and at least an arm’s length away, allowing you to read the screen without squinting or straining your neck by leaning forward. The top of your monitor should ideally be two to three inches above your seated eye level and positioned to reduce glare.
  • Give your body a break. Even under the best conditions, a prolonged stationary posture will eventually take its toll. Set alarms on your computer or phone as a reminder to stretch your hands, wrists and elbows for one to two minutes every half an hour, and to get up to walk at least once each hour until it becomes part of your routine.

Made these adjustments but still experiencing aches and pains? Contact the board-certified hand, wrist and elbow subspecialists at the Orlin & Cohen Orthopedic Group. Their proven methods can help you find relief now.