HealthFIT Ergonomic Tips

by Maren Sederquist, MES, CSCS, PES, CPT

Prevent repetitive strain injuries and reinforce good posture by paying attention to the ergonomics of your environment. Some of the tips in the workspace example below can even be applied to sitting while driving in your car, sitting at the dining table, or even sitting in the movie theater!

Guidelines:

  • You should have relaxed, but not slumped shoulders.
  • Your monitor should be adjusted so that when you look straight ahead, your eyes focus on the top of the screen.
  • Your monitor bottom should be lifted slightly upward to face you.
  • Your monitor should be at least 16 inches from your face.
  • Sit in a chair that has good back support for your lumbar spine.
  • Thighs should be parallel to the floor or sloping down slightly.
  • Keep feet flat on the floor, just under or slightly in front of your knees. (Use a foot rest if your desk and chair  are too tall.)
  • Elbows should be at or slightly greater than a 90 degree angle, with your forearms parallel to the ground.
  • Tilt the keyboard away from you (about an inch higher in the front) to keep your wrists in neutral (not bent) and relaxed. Or even try an ergonomic keyboard!
  • Keep fingers relaxed and smoothly arched.
  • Keep your hands and wrists floating above the keyboard while typing. (Only use wrist pads while resting.)
Ergonomic Desk

QUESTION: Can you pick out areas that could be improved upon in the picture above? (The correct answers are at the end of the tips!)

Other things to think about while sitting at your desk:

  • Use a light touch when typing and using your mouse.
  • Directly face any task you're doing, rather than twisting your body.
  • Avoid over extension of any body part, by keeping things you use frequently close to you.
  • Don't cradle the phone between your head and shoulder. Hold the phone to your ear, or use a headset if you spend a lot of time on the phone.
  • Pay attention to how your body feels. Sit tall with your chin tucked slightly back, and adjust your posture to eliminate any tension in your neck, shoulders, and back.
  • Keep your wrists level, but also prevent them from bending to the sides.
  • Let your arms move your hands, rather than making your wrists do all the work.
  • Take lots of breaks from your work. When you need a minute to read or think before typing again, rest your hands in your lap or at your sides, to allow them to be in a different position.
  • Above all, move around and shift positions. The above tips are for optimal prevention of injuries, but staying in any one position for an extended period of time can cause strain.

Limit as many of the major risks of Repetitive Stress Injuries as you can:

  • Awkward positions
  • Repetition
  • Static posture
  • Excessive muscular tension
  • Excessive mechanical pressure
  • Excessive force from pressing or clicking
  • Vibration
  • Cold
  • Loss of muscle from lack of strength exercise
  • Psychological stress
  • Fatigue
  • Fatigue

Answer to Above Question:

The ergonomics of the pictured workstation could be improved upon by:
  • Raising her monitor
  • Tilting her keyboard away from her
  • Using the back support on her chair to enable her posture to be more upright.

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