In our last newsletter we looked into the best way to sit at work.
We emphasised the importance of having a level foundation, found the correct chair for you and outlined the best posture to have while sitting.
This month we will be discussing further how you should have the rest of your desk set up to help your body survive the perils of sitting.
Computer screen set up
The position of your screen can make a huge difference to how your body feels at the end of the day.
The centre of the screen should be directly in front of you. If you are unable to move the screen, you need to move your seat so that you are sitting directly in front of it.
Position the top of the screen so it is about 3-5 cm above your seated eye level depending on the size of your screen. This ensures you don’t look down at any time so your neck can stay in a straight position. If your screen cannot be adjusted, telephone books make great props to raise the screen up.
Sit at least an arms length away from the screen so you have room to use the keyboard and mouse but also so your eyes aren’t strained from the screen.
Reduce glare on the screen by using some of these tips;
Place screen at right angles to window
Adjust curtains or blinds as needed
Adjust the vertical screen angle to minimize glare from overhead lights
If none of these are possible you can use other techniques like optical glass glare filters, light filters or secondary task lights.
Mouse and keyboard set up
The positioning and actual type of mouse and keyboard can have huge implications to not only your spinal health but also your wrists and hands.
Your elbows should be kept in at your sides with your arms and wrist parallel to the floor; therefore you need to able to reach both the keyboard and mouse easily from this position. If you are unable to, you need to either bring your seat closer to the table, or make sure your keyboard and mouse can move closer to you.
The keyboard should be directly in front of you and in front of the screen so there is no twisting. It should be easy to use with your wrists resting on the table. If it is too high to reach the keys an angled mat can be used, or change the angle of the keyboard by raising the back of the keyboard.
The mouse should also be easy to reach for your dominant hand to use it while the correct arm posture is maintained.
The mouse should also be able to fit easily into your hand so you don’t have to bend your wrists to use it. If this is happening you need to either get a smaller mouse or use a pad to raise your hand up so there is no angle in the wrists.
Working between several computer screens or between different areas of your desk.
The biggest problem we find is that people have to maintain all these correct sitting techniques when:
They have more than one screen
They have to enter a lot of data from paper work into computers
They have to move around the workstation to do different activities.
The number one rule here is to maintain a neutral straight spine the entire day.
A few tips that may help in these situations include:
Using a swivel chair so that you can move your entire body into a neutral position that we previously discussed to suit the situation
Using an easily movable or cordless keyboard and mouse so that you can move them into an ideal position
Ensuring any document or laptop is placed one over the other so that they are both directly in front of you
If you need to read, it can be a great opportunity to stand up and move around to do so. This will get your body moving and blood flowing which can improve work productivity
Placing your telephone within easy reach, and using a headset or speakerphone if possible to reduce cradling the phone with your neck.
Pauses & Breaks/Stretching and moving
This is one of the most IMPORTANT parts to maintaining a healthy body when you have to sit at work.
Our bodies are NOT designed to sit stationary all day. We are designed to move.
Some good tips to keeping mobile during the day are:
Having an alarm on your phone or computer to let you know every 20-30 minutes. This is a great way to tell you to just stand up stretch, take some deep breaths maybe get a drink and then get back to work. Small, frequent breaks are more effective that long breaks.
When you do get time to have a longer break for lunch try to have at least a 5-10 min walk preferably outside. This not only gets you some fresh air but also helps your eyes getting them out of the artificial light and away from computer screens. This longer walk also gets all the nutrients the body needs to survive pumping around the body.
Foam rollers, trigger point spikey balls or even tennis balls are also great to have at your desk so if you are feeling a little tight or sore in areas you can spend a couple of minutes working on the area straight away so they don’t turn into larger problems that will take longer to fix down the track. You may think you look funny but you will feel so much better than your colleagues! Perhaps eventually everyone in the office will spend time rolling on the rollers to feel as good as you do!
There have been a lot of tips and information here for you to take in. Please remember all of the practitioners at Spinal Symmetry are always available for you to talk about any of these tips, and to assist you in finding the most effective way to sit at your desk.