5 Tips for a Comfy Workstation

illustration of workstationBack and neck problems are so prevalent these days. Chances are, you're experiencing pain now.

If accident or trauma is not a factor, it's likely the cause of the problem is due to bad posture or habits which lead to a faulty movement pattern.

If your work is sedentary and involves the use of a computer, the setup of your workstation may be a major factor related to your pain.

Below are some easy tips for creating an ergonomic workspace that improves your health.

  1. Frequent Change of Position
    More and more people are using “standing desk” workstations now. It is a great device. (We like Varidesk products.) It allows your back to have a break from the stress in sitting, and the abdomen and groin area to be stretched. If you don’t have a stand-up station, getting up to do a few stretches from time-to-time will also help.
     
  2. Monitor Directly in Front of You
    The monitor should be positioned directly in front of you. If you are using more than one monitor, try to condense your work to one. If you have to use more than one, then position the other in a way that forces you to move with your chair to go that computer. Turning your head to look at the monitor and maintaining in that rotated position produces a lot of stress in the neck muscles.
     
  3. Monitor at Eyebrow Level
    The top of the monitor should be at your eyebrow level no matter if you are standing or sitting. Too high or too low will strain the neck muscles. Because of this, a desktop monitor is preferable. However, if you are using a laptop (and mainly for browsing/reading), then place it on a stack of books to lift it up.
     
  4. Keyboard at Elbow Level
    This applies to both sitting and standing position. The shoulders should relax when the elbow is bent at 90 degrees. Ideally, your wrist should rest on a wrist support with the hand in line with the forearm or at a small extension of 20–30 degrees. If your desk is too high to allow for the proper elbow bend, find an under-desk keyboard drawer/tray.
     
  5. Adjustable Office Chair
    The office chair should be adjustable to allow your feet to rest on the ground comfortably with the hips and knees at approximately 90 degrees. The seat should be horizontal/flat or even tilted forward slightly to keep you from slouching and help maintain good posture. The depth of the seat should also be adjustable so that the front edge of the seat will not cut into the back of your legs.

The above are just a few suggestions to improve your workstation. A good posture and working habit is most important in preventing back and neck pain. Remember, a good posture is an upright (not straight) and restful posture. We may discuss that in another blog post. In the meantime, try out these tips to see if they help.

Have questions? Ask an expert.

Peggy Hau, PT, MscPT is a licensed physical therapist at Mettler Center. Do you have questions regarding improving your workstation? Ask an Expert. If you are experiencing pain, your condition can be evaluated by a physical therapist who can detect functional problems and make the best possible recommendation for treatment. Call 217-398-9800 to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with a physical therapist or request an appointment online.