Working at a computer work station all day can take a toll on the body. Repetitive activities and lack of mobility can contribute to aches, pains, and eventual injuries.
Sitting at a desk while using the keyboard for hours on a day to day basis can result in poor circulation to joints and muscles. It can also create an imbalance in strength and flexibility of certain muscles, and muscle strain. These issues can be easily remedied by taking frequent short breaks, or "micro breaks," throughout your day.
- Get out of your chair several times a day and move around—even for 30 seconds
- Roll your shoulders backwards
- Turn your head side to side
- Stretch out your forearms and your legs
Additionally, specific guidelines for your work station can help maximize your comfort and safety.
Your chair should have the following:
- Wheels (5 for better mobility)
- The ability to twist freely on its base
- Adjustable height
- Adjustable arm rests that will allow you to sit close to your desk
- Lumbar support
- Seat base that adjusts to a comfortable angle and allows you to sit up straight
The position of the keyboard is critical:
- The keyboard should be at a height that allows you to have your forearms slightly below a horizontal line—or your elbows at slightly more than a 90 degree angle.
- You should be able to slide your knees under the keyboard tray or desk.
- Avoid reaching for the keyboard by extending your arms or raising your shoulders.
- Try to avoid having the keyboard on top of your desk. That is too high for almost everyone—unless you can raise your seat. The elbow angle is the best test of keyboard position.
The position of your computer monitor is important:
- The monitor should be directly in front of you.
- The top of the monitor should be at your eye level, and at a distance where you can see it clearly without squinting, or leaning forward or backward.
- If you need glasses for reading, you may need to have a special pair for use at your computer to avoid tipping your head backward to see through bi-focals or other types of reading glasses.
How can a physical therapist help?
Many physical therapists are experts at modifying work stations to increase efficiency and prevent or relieve pain. Additionally, if you are experiencing pain that isn't relieved by modifications to your work station, you should see a physical therapist who can help develop a treatment plan to relieve your pain and improve your mobility.