Your guide to an ergonomic desk workspace
We spend a lot of time sitting at our desks every day, and while it may not look like it, it can wreak havoc with our bodies. Here’s how to set up a healthy, ergonomic workspace to keep you comfortable and injury-free.
Some of you may not realize how unfriendly your workspace is to your body, while others of you have already started experiencing repetitive strain injury (RSI) from an improperly set up desk. A number of different factors can cause injuries (yes, even at a desk), and they may not always be obvious—for example, slouching and keeping your shoulders tense can not only cause pinched nerves in your shoulders, but even hurt your wrists
Choose a chair that supports your spinal curves. Adjust the height of your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor or on a footrest and your thighs are parallel to the floor. Adjust armrests so your arms gently rest on them with your shoulders relaxed.
Place your mouse within easy reach and on the same surface as your keyboard. While typing or using your mouse, keep your wrists straight, your upper arms close to your body, and your hands at or slightly below the level of your elbows. Use keyboard shortcuts to reduce extended mouse use. If possible, adjust the sensitivity of the mouse so you can use a light touch to operate it.
If you frequently talk on the phone and type or write at the same time, place your phone on speaker or use a headset rather than cradling the phone between your head and neck.
Under the desk, make sure there’s clearance for your knees, thighs and feet. If the desk is too low and can’t be adjusted, place sturdy boards or blocks under the desk legs. If the desk is too high and can’t be adjusted, raise your chair. Use a footrest to support your feet as needed. If your desk has a hard edge, pad the edge or use a wrist rest. Don’t store items under your desk.
Place the monitor directly in front of you, about an arm’s length away. The top of the screen should be at or slightly below eye level. The monitor should be directly behind your keyboard. If you wear bifocals, lower the monitor an additional 1 to 2 inches for more comfortable viewing. Place your monitor so that the brightest light source is to the side.