When working from your home office you may have a tendency not to take as many breaks as if you were in a traditional office. You may find yourself working for hours before getting up from your chair, as the interruptions are normally fewer to distract you. Because of this it is critical that you take care of yourself – and arm yourself with the basic ergonomics to prevent or at least minimize any physical strain due to computer work.
Here are 12 tips for setting up an ergonomic computer workstation:
1. Use a good chair with a dynamic chair back and seat pan. Sit back and use it instead of leaning forward
2. Position the top of monitor casing 2-3″ (5-8 cm) above eye level
3. Use a no glare screen, and an optical glass anti-glare filter where needed
4. Sit at arms length from the monitor
5. Place your feet on floor or stable footrest
6. Use a document holder, preferably in-line with the computer screen
7. Keep wrists flat and straight in relation to forearms to use keyboard/mouse/input device
8. Your arms and elbows should be relaxed and close to body
9. Center your monitor and keyboard in front of you so you are not turning to use them
10. Use a negative tilt keyboard tray with an upper mouse platform or downward tiltable platform adjacent to the keyboard for best wrist angle
11. Use a stable work surface and stable (no bounce) keyboard tray
12. Take frequent short breaks (microbreaks)
Ideal typing posture: Negative slope keyboard support
In the ideal typing posture both static and dynamic muscle loads are minimized. This posture is achieved when the keyboard is below seated elbow height and the keyboard base is gently sloped away from the user so that the key tops are accessible to the hands in a neutral posture. In this position the arms, shoulders, neck and back can relax, especially during brief rest pauses. Also, in this slightly reclined sitting position the low back rests against the lumbar support of the chair, the elbow angle is opened to promote circulation to the lower arm and hand, the abdominal angle, and the popliteal angle (behind the knees) are opened to promote blood circulation. The feet rest firmly upon the floor.
Desk top keyboard – Typing at a keyboard on a desk is a common work posture for many computer users. In this position it is difficult to maintain the wrist is in a neutral posture, because the forearms sag as they tire and this puts the wrists into greater wrist extension. Also, most users have to work with their elbows flexed, which can compress the median and ulnar nerves at the elbow and restrict blood flow to the hands. Working with the forearms sloping up increase muscle loads in the upper arms, shoulders, and neck. Working in this position for more than 3-4 hours invariably leads to muscle fatigue.
Conventional keyboard tray – Typing at a keyboard on a conventional articulating keyboard tray can increase postural problems for users. Working with the keyboard more steeply angled on the tray is a common work posture for many computer users. In this position it is also difficult to maintain the wrist is in a neutral posture, because the forearms sag as they tire and this puts the wrists into greater wrist extension. Studies have failed to show that conventional keyboard trays substantially improve wrist posture.
Of course there are other ergonomic factors as well such as proper lighting, ventilation, mouse use, furniture heights and styles, plus phone equipment to name a few. Be sure to research what will be best for your specific situation and budget. Take care of your body now and it will take care of you in the future.