Computer Positioning by: Marisa Hombach OTR/L, CHT
Spend a lot of your day at a computer? Feel aches and pains in your neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, and hands? Want to know what you can do about it? I've evaluated many offices that have required simple, inexpensive modifications that help to reduce neck and upper extremity discomfort. Here are a few simple ideas:
1) Make sure your computer monitor is an arms length away and directly in front of you (don't put it on the corner of your desk). You also want to make sure that the computer monitor is positioned so that your head is upright and you aren't leaning forward to see or tilting your head back for extended time periods to see the screen.
2) Make sure your shoulders are relaxed and not elevated while your elbows rest at your side at an approximately 90 degree angle.
3) Don't lean your elbows in a bent position on the arm rests of your chair.
4) Your wrists should be in a neutral position and should not be bent forward or back more than 15 degrees. For some people this may mean tilting the keyboard back, for others a simple hand towel rolled up between the desk and wrists can provide adequate support. While typing, your fingers should "float" over the keyboard.
5) Hips should be at approximately 90 degrees with your low back supported in the chair.
6) Knees should be at approximately 90 degrees.
7) Always make sure that your feet are supported.
8) Make sure your computer mouse use allows your arm to maintain the ideal position of shoulder relaxed, elbow at 90 degrees, and wrists in neutral.
9) Avoid holding a telephone with your shoulder while typing at the keyboard. It is best to use a head set if you are on the phone constantly while using the computer.
10) Most importantly: It doesn't matter if you have the most ergonomically correct set up in the world, if you don't take "mini breaks" you could still potentially have problems. What does this mean? After 30 minutes of any one position and/or activity you should take a 30 second break. For example:
* Stand up and stretch your arms back while looking up at the ceiling.
* Sit and shrug your shoulders 20 times, roll your shoulders 20 times, and squeeze your shoulder blades together.