Having the best ergonomic desk setup is important. If you are working for longer periods of time at the office or at home, you’ll want to be able to have the proper setup to ensure that you prevent any chronic injuries or pain (especially with your neck and back).
In this guide, we’ll show you how to examine your current set up and make the appropriate changes needed in order to make your ergonomic set up even better. This way, you’ll continue your work in a more comfortable position. Your current setup may be harming you than helping.
We’ll talk about why ergonomics is important and what you might deal with if nothing is done to improve it. Then, we’ll show you step-by-step on how you can be able to have the best ergonomic desk setup that will work best for you. Now, let’s start off by explaining the importance of ergonomics:
Why is an ergonomic workstation important?
Simply put, the goal for everyone who works behind a desk is to be healthy and happy. These two go hand in hand when you want to be as productive as possible. Likewise, your productivity may suffer if you are not living a healthy and happy lifestyle.
A poor work environment will not only make your productivity suffer, but your work efficiency will be poor as well. In an office setting where everyone’s ergonomic setup is not the best, it may even lead to poor overall morale. Whether you are working by yourself or an employer, health and happiness should be your number one priority.
The facts about poor ergonomics
Poor ergonomics can and will lead to short-term and long-term health issues. Typically, poor ergonomics is a hotbed for various aches and pains. More notably, this pain will usually occur in the neck, shoulders, and lower back.
This kind of pain can be chronic and can come and go at the worst possible times. Aside from that, this can also lead to poor joint health as you get older. Plus, you will suffer injuries to your hands and wrists due to repetitive use.
However, that doesn’t stop there. Poor ergonomics can also lead to other health issues such as poor circulation throughout your body. If you spend a long time in front of a computer screen without taking an adequate break, you may be at risk for chronic headaches, fatigue, and blurred vision.
Long-term health effects can include but not limit itself to changes in blood pressure, impingement of nerves, joint issues, and changes in your metabolism. Don’t be surprised if any of these chronic injuries and illnesses also lead to other health issues.
The truth is, what may seem like something that isn’t hurting you probably is. You could be sitting back in a chair while typing. However, you may be in a difficult angle that may lead to physical strain on your body.
Setting Up Your Desk
To ensure better ergonomics, it’s important to follow some of the following steps so you can make any necessary adjustments needed. This may also include choosing a few new items to improve your overall office setup. Let’s take a look at some of the steps that you need to do:
Assess your current setup
The first thing to do is assess your current setup. You may look through your setup and see that something might be amiss. Here’s a list of things to look for so you can be able to correct it if you spot something out of the ordinary:
- Is your computer monitor within an arm’s length away from you?
- Can you easily reach your keyboard?
- When you sit in your chair, does it feel like you are getting good elbow and back support?
- Are your elbows at 90 degrees when you are typing?
- If your seat at the correct height?
- Are your feet firmly planted on the floor?
This is just a sample list of what you need to look for to ensure that you have a good ergonomic set up or not. If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, then it’s time to make some changes. The better your ergonomic desk setup, the less likely you’ll develop short-term and long-term health effects.
Choosing the right chair
To begin, one of the best ways to give yourself a better ergonomic setup is finding the right chair. You’ll want to find something that will be able to support your spine. You must also find a chair that is adjustable. Specifically, seat height and adjustable armrests are two of the things that you want to look for.
That’s because you may need to adjust the chair to a certain height that allows you to align the top of the monitor at eye level. You don’t want to force yourself to look up or down. The chair must also be overall comfortable for you.
Find an ergonomic chair that fits within your budget (but don’t skimp on things like quality). There is not a single standard office chair on the market that will provide you with a good amount of ergonomic support. There are plenty of ergonomic chairs that come in different designs, brands, types of fabric, and more. You can check out our top ergonomic office chairs to get an idea of the best on the market.
Don’t worry so much about the features. Worry about whether or not it will make you comfortable for longer periods of time. And it should also allow you to adjust yourself to where you are in a more ergonomic friendly position.
Aside from the seat height and adjustability, here are some other things you should look for in an ergonomic chair:
- Back tilt tension: This is a feature that comes with a small knob allowing you to rock your chair back. You can get an ergonomic chair that will allow you to recline and stretch your if need be.
- Lumbar support: Your lower back deserves love as well. Most ergonomic chairs that provide lumbar support will curve inward to ensure that it fits the S-curve of your spine. A good fit will lessen the risk of lower back pain. If you get an ergonomic chair that does not provide such support, consider purchasing a lumbar support pillow.
- Back height adjustment: The back height adjustment feature provides you with the ability to adjust the chair so it can line up with the contours of your back. This may be worth looking at if you are a bit taller than most people.
- Arm support adjustment: Like the back height, you want the arms to be at level with your keyboard so they are at 90 degrees. The arm support adjustment will make it so that you can be able to hold that position for as long as possible.
The rest of the setup
Now, we’ll take a look at the rest of the setup. Better ergonomics does not begin with how your chair is set up. It takes the entire workspace and the way it’s set up to ensure that you have better overall ergonomics. We’ll be taking a look at what you need to do in order to accomplish this such as where to place your mouse and keyboard, how much lighting you need, and whether or not you need something like a footrest.
Let’s take a look at some key objects and how to properly use them:
All objects: Every key object at your workstation must be within close reach. If you cannot reach any items that are close by, you’ll need to stand up so you can be able to reach for them comfortably.
Telephone: If you are someone that likes to multi-task (specifically talking on the phone while typing), you can do one of two things: one, you can put your phone on speaker mode. Or two, you can utilize a hands-free headset. Do not sandwich the phone between your head and your shoulder as it can cause a strain on your neck.
Keyboard/mouse: Your keyboard and mouse should be on the same surface as your keyboard. They both must be within a close reach away from each other. When using both items, be sure to keep your wrists straight while your upper arms are close to you. Your hands should be somewhat below your elbows. To ensure that you are not using your mouse a lot, consider using keyboard shortcuts for certain tasks like select, copy, and paste. You can alternate the mouse so you can use it with the other hand if you so choose.
Footrest: Assuming that the chair adjustment is too high for you to touch your feet on the floor, a footrest will help alleviate this problem. Rest your feet flat on the footrest while sitting on the desk. Alternative items that you can use can be a small stack of books.
Computer monitor: Your computer monitor must be directly in front of you and within an arm’s reach. The top of the screen must be at eye level or at least slightly below it. Be sure that the monitor is located directly behind the keyboard. If you are someone who wears glasses, you can lower the monitor slightly if you want to look at it from a more comfortable angle. The brightest light source should be somewhere off to the side rather than the monitor itself.
Desk: Your desk must have enough clearance space for your feet, thighs, and knees. If the desk is not adjustable, use books or blocks and place them under the desk legs to ensure better height. Alternatively, you can invest in an adjustable desk that allows you to either sit down or stand up if you so choose.
Tips To Prevent Injury and Discomfort
If your job involves sitting at a desk all day, it’s important to follow these tips to ensure that you do not suffer from any chronic pain and health issues as a result. Consider the following tips:
- Stand up and stretch for a couple of minutes
- Do light exercises such as jumping jacks, squats, leg stretches, and the like
- Take a short walk if your breaks are lengthy (like 15 to 30 minutes)
- Consider a workout schedule where you can be able to do 30 minutes of working out for 3 days per week. Be sure to do this when you are off work
When to take a break?
Typically, you should get up and walk away from your desk every 30 to 60 minutes. While you are away from your desk, your eyes and your mind will adjust accordingly. This will prevent any eye strain and headaches that may occur due to looking at a computer screen for a lengthy period of time.
During this break, this should give you the opportunity to do some stretches, take a short walk, or perform some of the light exercises in an open space. A 15 minute break is ideal as it will give your eyes and brain enough time to adjust. If you are an employer, allow workers to take 15 minute breaks at a minimum.
You can also lead your employees to do a group stretch and get some exercises in so that your entire office doesn’t have to deal with the aches and pains of poor ergonomics and lengthy screen time. Encourage your employees to take breaks every half hour to an hour so they can adjust and maintain their levels of productivity while they return to their workspace.
If you want the best ergonomic desk setup, it’s important to have every item within close reach. At the same time, you also want to rely on items such as hands-free headsets (when you are talking on the phone) and use keyboard shortcuts to reduce the use of a mouse.
Improving your ergonomic setup will be key. Especially when you’re going to be sitting in front of your computer for hours on end. Remember to take regular breaks and do some stretches and exercises so you can be able to move around after all that inactivity.
If push comes to shove, you may need to make a few changes to your workspace. This includes ditching your current office chair for an ergonomic chair that comes with adjustable features and additional back and neck support.