Do you find yourself squirming around or even in pain after sitting at the computer for a prolonged period of time? Sitting for long periods with poor body positioning can be very fatiguing. Over time, the fatigued area becomes strained and pain sets in.
If your office cubicle is configured correctly, you should be able to sit for hours without hurting your back, neck, arms, or wrists. Here are some recommendations to help you achieve the correct body positioning.
Choose a well designed office chair. A good chair will preserve and support the natural curves of your back. In the neck and low back the spine curves in, and in the middle back the spine curves out. To perform well the contour of the chair’s back should match the curves of your back. This support keeps you from slouching when you sit.
A taller seat back is better than a shorter one. The lower portion of the seat back should support your lower back’s inward curve, and the upper portion should support your middle back’s outward curve. Sit all the way back in your chair so the seat back can do its job of supporting the curves of your spine.
Your legs should be parallel to the ground; and those with short legs may need a footstool. A chair that reclines offers a good change of position that can help prevent fatigue. Reclining allow you to change positions and still receive the support of a well contoured seat back.
Proper monitor placement. A correctly positioned monitor will help you to avoid neck and shoulder pain. The ergonomic principle here is to keep your head and neck in a neutral position. This is accomplished by looking straight ahead. You don’t want to look up and down, and you don’t want to look left and right.
You can keep your head from looking up and down by keeping your head and eyes level. This is accomplished by raising the computer monitor so that your eyes hit the screen three quarters of the way up. A level head keeps your neck muscles from having to constantly contract to hold your head in a poor position.
To keep your head from looking left and right, place the monitor directly in back of the keyboard. This avoids the common practice of placing the monitor off to the side. Side positioning causes your neck to stay constantly turned leading to stressed muscles in your neck and shoulders.
Smart keyboard placement. Your keyboard should be low, almost in your lap. This allows your shoulders to stay close to your side and remain relaxed. Placing the keyboard too high forces you to constantly contract the muscles of your shoulders so your forearms can reach the keyboard. If your chair has arms you can position the keyboard a little higher so long as the chair’s arms support your forearms. If you chair does not have arms, position the keyboard close to your lap so your forearms can be positioned down by your side.
Your wrist should be relaxed and straight or slightly flexed. The mouse should be right next to the keyboard. Be sure to take regular breaks from typing.
Ergonomically, laptops are a nightmare because the keyboard is right next to the monitor. By purchasing a separate keyboard to separate the monitor from the keyboard you can easily remedy this problem.
Good ergonomics require a well designed office chair that properly supports the back, the proper monitor height, a low keyboard, and good shoulder placement to keep shoulders and forearms relaxed. These ergonomic recommendations can lead to hours of comfortable work.