You may want to sit down before you read this statistic: 86% of American workers sit all day, every day – not only at their jobs, but at their homes too. And when they do get up, their most common reason for doing so is getting food.
Compared to people who sit the least, people who sit the most have a 112% higher risk of diabetes and 147% higher risk of suffering a cardiovascular event like a heart attack. But we’re not here today to lecture you about how sitting is the new smoking. Frankly, sitting down is just too important a part of too many jobs to realistically advise avoiding it altogether.
We’re here to advise doing the next best thing: making your office more ergonomic. That just means setting up your office so you can work more comfortably and efficiently while placing less strain on your neck and back. It’s a great way to reduce your risk of common office injuries like back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive strain injury. Just follow our five tips to make your office more ergonomic and you may start feeling better almost instantly!
1. Choose the Right Chair
The most ergonomic office chair will bear your weight evenly while placing the least possible strain on your spine. Choose a chair with a back that supports the S-shaped curvature of your spine – a straight back will not do this. Adjust that chair so your feet rest flat against the floor, and adjust its armrests so your forearms fall evenly on them while your shoulders are relaxed.
If you would rather keep your current chair, at the very least place a cushion on its seat and a lumbar support pillow against its back. In addition to evenly distributing your weight while lending added support to your spine, these pads will encourage you to lean back instead of craning your neck forward.
2. Place Your Desk at the Right Height
When your desk is too high or too low, it requires you to contort your body into awkward positions. That doesn’t just take a toll on your health. It also makes you work less efficiently, which has the compounding effect of forcing you to spend even more time at your desk. It’s a vicious circle.
The ideal desk height will keep your feet positioned flat against the floor, your arms at right angles to your sides, and your elbows bent at 90° angles. The best desk height for your body depends on your height. Refer to this handy table to determine the best desk height whether you prefer a sitting or a standing desk.
|Your Height||Sitting Desk Height||Standing Desk Height|
3. Place Your Monitor in the Right Position
Once you have gotten the right chair and positioned your desk correctly, it’s time to turn your attention to your monitor. The top of the screen should be at eye level so you look downward while staring at the center of the screen. Your monitor should be 20″ to 40″ away from your eyes, and tilted 10° to 20° back. If you wear bifocals while using your computer, tilt back your monitor 30° to 45° instead.
Your monitor’s brightness will not affect your musculoskeletal health, but at the right setting it will spare your eyes from strain. Set your monitor’s brightness between 40 and 60% (although an unusually dim or bright office may require you to go outside of this ideal range).
4. Use a Phone Headset
Do you frequently take phone calls for your job? Don’t sandwich your 0.30″ thick cell phone between your ear and shoulder, as doing so is practically begging for needless strain on your neck. A recent study by Santa Clara Valley Medical Center showed that using a phone headset can reduce neck, shoulder and upper back muscle tension by as much as 41%!
5. Use an Ergonomic Keyboard and Mouse
Whether it is contoured, split or angled, an ergonomic keyboard can place significantly less stress on your wrists, promote a healthier posture, and even reduce the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Likewise, a mouse that is large enough to grip comfortably and which clicks with the least possible finger movement can spare you from straining the sensitive muscles, ligaments and tendons in your hands.
Sadly, no amount of caution can help you avoid certain workplace injuries. If you feel nagging discomfort in your neck, shoulders or spine that can only come from too much time in the office, or you have suffered a more acute musculoskeletal injury, then we welcome you to schedule a consultation at Fargo Spine’s chiropractic clinic in Fargo, ND today!