Three ways to make your office space more ergonomic

In the US alone, around one billion dollars a week is spent on musculoskeletal injuries that could have been easily prevented with the right office setup.

If a day at the office leaves you sore, the good news is that you can easily do something about it.

Implementing good work practices and investing in the right workstation equipment, can help you avoid back, neck and wrist pain, as well as more serious conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tendinitis. Here are three ways to make your office space more ergonomic.

1) Make sure you have the correct chair and sitting position 

Improving your posture at work can be a game changer. So, when you are buying an office chair, make sure that it is fully adjustable to your body shape and size.

It is particularly important that you are able to adjust the chair’s height and lumbar support. Ideally, the edges of the seat should be one inch wider than your hips and thighs. You should also be able to sit back without the backs of your knees coming in contact with the edge of the chair.

In addition, you should be able to plant your feet flat on the ground in front of you when sitting—dangling feet are a big no-no. If you are very short, use a footstep. While chair arms are not essential, they can be a lifesaver for those who need a little extra support when sitting down or standing up.

2) Get the correct keyboard and mouse placement 

To support your natural position and avoid muscle strain, your elbows should be at or just below a 90-degree angle when your work. To achieve this, your keyboard should be around one or two inches above your thighs. You can use a pull-out keyboard tray, if you find it helpful.

It is also recommended that you position your keyboard at a slight negative tilt, or away from you. Be sure to center your keyboard based on the letters, rather than the number pad – the letter B should be directly in front of your belly button. Most keyboards come with kickstands that tilt it toward you, so it is important never to use those as this can lead to wrist strain. 

Your mouse should be around a shoulder-distance from the keyboard, with both at the same level. As computer mice come in a range of types and sizes, it is important that you select one that is contoured in the right places for your needs. A quality mouse pad can also help you avoid repetitive stress injuries in your wrist. 

3) Ensure you have the correct screen positioning 

Incorrect monitor placement can lead to severe neck problems. A screen that is overly close can lead to neck craning, while a screen that is too far away may cause you to extend your neck too far forward.

Ideally, you should be able to touch the monitor with the tips of your middle fingers when sitting back and extending your arms. If you are not sure about the ideal height of your monitor, close your eyes.

If you are sitting in the correct position, your eyes will land on the address bar when you open them. If your screen is not in this position, raise it or lower your chair accordingly. 

Photo by Samule Sun