Creating Your Own Ergonomic Workstation With a Few Simple Steps
Are you beginning to suspect that the time you’re spending at a desk could be contributing to pain and fatigue? It turns out that your workspace setup could be having a much more dramatic impact on your health and wellness than you first thought. There’s good news if you’re dreading the thought of sitting at your desk for even one more minute. Updating your workspace to create a more ergonomic environment could actually help you to be free of pain while being more productive!
Unfortunately, long hours spent in front of a desk can very easily lead to neck pain, back pain, sore wrists, and tired fingers if you’re not conscious regarding your posture and positioning. Many people don’t really pay attention to the ergonomics behind their workspace setups. In fact, a good portion of people attempts to get through long work sessions using laptops set on kitchen tables or beds. Being so casual about where you work can set you up for some very serious pain and discomfort. The good news is that implementing some specific ergonomic practices can help you to shield key points throughout your body from strain, fatigue, and injury. Take a look at a quick guide to creating an ergonomic workstation using some very simple techniques.
Start With a Good Chair
Don’t get too comfortable with the idea of simply using a chair or stool from the kitchen when you’re doing work! A good, supportive chair is really the backbone of an ergonomic workstation. How can you know that a chair offers the right amount of support? First, a work-worthy chair needs to fully support your legs, arms, buttocks, and back. You should be able to sit in the chair without feeling any hardness or “contact stress” anywhere in your body. In addition, a chair should have a high back or headrest that provides support for the head and neck. This is an essential feature for helping you to prevent the dreaded “tech neck” phenomenon that can occur from stooping when staring at a screen.
The secret to achieving maximum ergonomic benefits from a chair rests in how you’re able to position your body in that chair. First, it’s important that your feet can rest flat against the floor when you’re in the sitting position. Next, your knees should be at about equal height with your hips. Some people find that using supplemental chair cushions or footrests helps them create a much better ergonomic alignment. Factors like desk height and body composition can impact what you need to be comfortable at your workstation.
It’s also advantageous to pick a chair with recline and tilt capabilities that are controlled by tension. This small detail can make a world of difference when it comes to keeping pressure off of your back. A chair made of breathable mesh is often the best because it provides a good amount of support without hardness or pressure. If possible, opt for a chair with lumbar support to help prevent lower back pain.
Be Smart About Monitor Placement
How and where you position your monitor can have a big impact on your health and performance if you’re spending long hours looking at a computer screen. Many people don’t put much thought into how they position their monitors because they may not fully understand the impact of being forced into awkward postures and poses while attempting to view a screen. Factors that may seem inconsequential can create very serious issues incrementally when you’re putting in full days of work in front of a screen. Issues like eyestrain, neck pain, and fatigue can be caused by improper posture or glare on the screen.
What is the best position for a monitor or screen when you’re working at a desk? Generally, you’ll want to make sure your monitor is placed squarely in front of where your chair will be positioned. However, it is important to keep a little bit of distance to protect your eyes. Keeping at least an arm’s length of distance between your eyes and your screen should help you to avoid strain and fatigue. Center the monitor above your keyboard at an angle of about 15 degrees. You’ll know you’ve positioned your monitor properly if the top line of your screen is at or below your eye level. You may also want to take into account light sources in the room where your desk is placed to reduce glare that could cause eye strain and fatigue.
Create the Perfect Environment for Your Hands
Your hands and fingers probably come into contact with your computer’s keyboard and accompanying mouse on a nearly nonstop basis when you’re at your workstation. There are some best practices to know about to avoid allowing repetitive movements to do a number on your fingers. Your keyboard should always be directly in front of you. Do your best to avoid keeping a keyboard or laptop in your lap or positioned at an angle. The big thing to remember is that you should resist the temptation to “hunch over” when doing work! Your shoulders should instead remain fully relaxed and straight. In fact, being conscious of keeping your elbows as close to your body as possible while you type or maneuver your mouse can help you to keep proper alignment.
It’s also important to be aware of what your wrists are doing when you’re working on a computer. Awkwardly slanting your wrists is an easy way to develop strain, fatigue, or injury. The focus should instead be on keeping your wrists aligned with your forearms to create a very strong, straight line. This is easier to do if you keep your mouse right next to your keyboard instead of pushing it out in a way that forces you to grab for it constantly. You are essentially creating a very neat, tight work “zone” where your hands can access all that they need without making taxing motions. Be sure to only keep the essentials that your hands reach for constantly inside this zone to maintain a very ergonomic, effective zone. Things like clutter, papers, cords, pens, or personal items can interrupt the flow when placed in this zone. One of the underlying benefits of focusing on an efficient, ergonomic work zone for your hands is that you may find that you’re actually more productive because your hands are able to work faster. Lastly, try to avoid tilting your keyboard toward you if you can help it. A keyboard with a very slight negative angle is optimal.
Know When to Get Up
Mastering the art of building the perfect workspace for health and comfort doesn’t mean that you should stay in there forever! It’s important to get up to walk, stretch, and change up your posture frequently when spending time at a workstation. This is so crucial for protecting your muscles and promoting circulation. In addition, it’s important to avoid straining to reach for objects that are situated on or near your workstation. Always get up to retrieve an object that you need instead of straining to attempt to reach it! This is a tip that’s simply good for your body and brain!