Over the last few months I have noticed a recurring theme of people coming in with workplace-related muscle strain. Having the correct setup at work in terms of ergonomics is extremely important, and can save you a lot of money on healthcare in the long run. Maintaining correct posture at a computer minimises stress on the spine and reduces the likelihood of injury, as well as headaches, shoulder pain and lower back pain.
Here are some tips:
- The height of the chair should allow your hips and knees to be at right angles (it is important not to have your knees higher than the level of your hips) and your feet firmly supported on the floor (a foot stool may be required).
- Your bottom should be at the back of the chair and a lumbar support should be placed in the small of your back.
- Your shoulders should be held back slightly and your chin should be tucked in.
- The height of the desk should allow you to have your elbows bent at approximately 90 degrees.
- Provided you can touch type, your keyboard should be close to you. If you have to look at the keys, it should be as close as possible so you can look down at the keys (using your eyes only) without having to bend your neck
- Your mouse, telephone and other accessories should be as close as possible to prevent you having to lean forwards or to the side to reach them.
- Your computer monitor should be positioned directly in front of you, at, or slightly, below eye level
- Actively practise holding yourself in good posture during sitting and check your position regularly to ensure you have not resumed slouching.
- Regular breaks from sitting are recommended with standing, walking or lying and should occur regularly enough to prevent any onset of pain.
- It is good practise to regularly switch the side of your body you use to perform various tasks to maintain balance and give one side of your body a break from repetitive or prolonged stress (e.g. use the mouse in your left and right hands equally)
- Performing regular exercises can also assist in preventing a posture related injury by giving your body a break from the continuous stress of sitting in one position.
Remember, a healthy workplace environment equals healthy muscles.