When you work from your home office, you may have a tendency not to take as many breaks as if you were in a traditional office. You may find yourself working for hours before getting out of your chair, as the interruptions are usually less to distract you. Because of this, it is critical that you take care of yourself and equip yourself with basic ergonomics to prevent or at least minimize any physical strain due to working with the computer.
Here are 12 tips for setting up an ergonomic computer workstation:
1. Use a good chair with a dynamic back and seat. Sit back and wear it instead of leaning forward
2. Position the top of the monitor housing 2-3 “(5-8 cm) above eye level.
3. Use a glare-free screen and an optical glass anti-glare filter where needed
4. Sit at arm’s length from the monitor
5. Place your feet on the floor or on a stable footrest.
6. Use a document holder, preferably in line with the computer screen.
7. Keep your wrists straight and flat in relation to your forearms to use the keyboard, mouse, or input device.
8. The arms and elbows should be relaxed and close to the body.
9. Center your monitor and keyboard in front of you so it won’t turn around for use.
10. Use a negative tilt keyboard tray with a top mouse pad or tilt down pad adjacent to the keyboard for the best wrist angle.
11. Use a stable work surface and a stable keyboard tray (no bounce)
12. Take frequent short breaks (micro-cuts)
Ideal Typing Posture – Negative Slope Keyboard Support
In the ideal typing posture, both static and dynamic muscle loads are minimized. This posture is achieved when the keyboard is below seated elbow height and the keyboard base slopes gently away from the user so that the tops of the keys are accessible to the hands in a neutral posture. In this position, the arms, shoulders, neck, and back can relax, especially during short rest breaks. Also, in this slightly reclined sitting position, the lower back rests against the lumbar support of the chair, the elbow angle opens to promote circulation to the lower arm and hand, the abdominal angle and the popliteal angle (behind knees) open to promote blood circulation. The feet remain firmly on the ground.
Desk keyboard – Typing on a keyboard at a desk is a common work posture for many computer users. In this position it is difficult to keep the wrist in a neutral posture, because the forearms sag as they tire and this places the wrists in a greater extension of the wrist. Additionally, most users have to work with their elbows flexed, which can compress the median and ulnar nerves at the elbow and restrict blood flow to the hands. Working with the forearms tilted upward increases muscle load in the upper arms, shoulders, and neck. Working in this position for more than 3-4 hours invariably leads to muscle fatigue.
Conventional keyboard tray: Typing on a keyboard on a conventional hinged keyboard tray can increase postural problems for users. Working with the keyboard at a steeper angle on the tray is a common work posture for many computer users. In this position it is also difficult to keep the wrist in a neutral posture, because the forearms sag as they tire and this places the wrists in a greater extension of the wrist. Studies have not shown that conventional keyboard trays substantially improve wrist posture.
Of course, there are other ergonomic factors, such as lighting, ventilation, mouse use, proper furniture height and style, in addition to telephone equipment, to name a few. Be sure to research what is best for your specific situation and budget. Take care of your body now and it will take care of you in the future.