Written by Mr Ross Tomkins for Doctify
For the majority of us, the reality of day to day life is a lot of sitting. And, although offices may often be unavoidable, damaging your health is not.
Read on for Occupational Physiotherapist, Mr Ross Tomkins’ top tips for reducing musculoskeletal stress and strain and optimizing health and well being. Make sure you’re sitting comfortably…
How do I make sure my chair is not causing me pain?
Make sure it’s supportive, comfortable and adjustable.
- Support is imperative so make sure that the seat depth is supporting the back of your thigh to just behind your knee (2-4 fingers breadths approximately).
- Make sure your feet are comfortably on the floor or foot rest if required.
- Adjust the backrest as the most important area to support is the lower back region.
- As a general rule try to ensure that the curve in the chair corresponds with the curve in your back. If this isn’t the case a lumbar role or cushion could be used.
- Adjust the seat height and/or tilt so that your shoulders are relaxed by your side and your elbows are around 90 degrees with your forearms pointing forwards and approximately horizontal.
What about my desk?
Make sure it’s uncluttered and variable.
- Make sure there is space under the desk to move your legs freely.
- Move any obstacles such as boxes, equipment or cables.
- The same goes for the top of your desk, do not allow clutter to prevent you from positioning your keyboard, mouse, telephone and other important items in the most comfortable and convenient layout.
- Standing height desks may also be a possibility and could be discussed with your Occupational Health department and will be discussed in another article in more depth.
What should I do with my screen?
Make sure it’s appropriately positioned.
- Ideally your monitor should be positioned to avoid glare from lights and windows. This reduces the risk of visual fatigue and changing the brightness/contrast and screen angle to suit the lighting conditions of the room can help to reduce the impact of glare.
- In order to further reduce the likelihood of visual fatigue try to take regular micro-breaks form the screen and remember to keep the screen directly in front of you with the top of the screen level with your eyes.
How do I make my keyboard and mouse more ergonomic?
Make sure they are not too close but not too far away.
- Your keyboard position should allow your shoulders to remain relaxed by your side in order to maintain a good spinal position and like the monitor should be directly in front of you.
- If your wrists rest on the edge of the desk a wrist rest might be of use and if you regularly use a laptop speak to your Occupational Health department about obtaining a docking station with separate keyboard and monitor.
- A commonly witnessed mistake is having the keyboard and mouse too far away. This encourages a slumped posture, leaning forward onto the desk, reaching with the arm. Most importantly, it creates a position of extension in the neck which is likely to lead to discomfort in the neck and upper limb. Your mouse should be positioned close to the keyboard in order to keep the shoulder relaxed.
- Top tip: If you don’t need to use your numerical keyboard very often, you can purchase keyboards without this bringing the mouse even closer.
What else can I do?
Most importantly, move regularly.
- The body is designed to move and adheres to a basic rule of ‘use it or lose it’.
- Staying in the same position for a long time significantly increases the chance of muscular fatigue and discomfort.
- Try and change your posture frequently and regularly take mini breaks to stretch and walk around the office.
- Mini breaks will also help reduce the chances of visual fatigue.
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If anything mentioned here has affected you and you want to know more, contact Mr Tomkins below.