What You Need For an Ergonomic Workstation


We are more used to slouching than ever before. We curve our spines bending over to stare at screens at work, slouching in the car for long commutes, and staring down at your phone. All of these unnatural movements will impact the neck and back. To the point, you might experience an increase in trapped nerves in the neck, headaches, upper back pain while you’re breathing, and even arm ache. 

A poor work set up can be one of the biggest contributing factors to your neck and back pain. And if you work from home, it is time for you to create a more ergonomic workstation, or petition your office to make sure that their workstations are ergonomic. 

Ideally, when you are seated at your computer, your neck shouldn’t be bent back, down or contorted, your arms aren’t lifted or extended out to the side, and your spine isn’t twisted or bent either. 

Desk

Your desk should be at a comfortable height.

Your arms and wrists should be in a neutral position when you are typing. Most desks are designed for people 5 foot 10 and taller, so they are usually 28-30 inches high. This means they aren’t a great fit for a large number of people. Ideally, an adjustable desk will help you find a desk at the right height for you. 

If that isn’t possible, then you can mount a keyboard tray under your desk to lower the keyboard. 

Keyboard

Sit down in your normal position and start typing.

Now, move your hands apart enough, so they are about shoulder-width apart. You should feel more comfortable in the second position. Unfortunately, many keyboards are designed to enable you to type in that position. Many force your hands, arms, and body to have more of a triangle shape. This will cause your shoulders to hunch. 

An ergonomic keyboard will have a lower, more flat profile. It may tilt forward to help keep your wrists in a neutral position. 

On an ergonomic keyboard, you are likely going to have to adjust to not having the number pad on the right. Or no number pad at all. 

Monitor

If you have a monitor that can automatically adjust to the light around them, this will help you from getting eye strain and fatigue.

Next, you should ensure that your eye level is only 2-3 inches below the top of the screen. And no more than an arm’s length away (this may vary if you need glasses or if you have a visual impairment. 

If you work on a laptop, there are a number of stands that you can purchase to make sure that your laptop is the right height for your eyes. Of course, you can also do this with a stack of books or something else sturdy. 

Chair

If you aren’t using a chair that has been designed to support your lower back and mid-back, the chances are you are sitting pretty hunched over. When you lean back into the chair, are there gaps between the chair and your spine? 

It might be time to invest in a new chair.

Your back does have a mild s curve, and most chairs that offer lumbar support will change how you sit. Your lower back really needs the support that a good chair can bring. Ideally, you should try a few on for size, and find one that also has a range of adjustments that you can make. 

Remember that you should be able to put both feet flat on the ground without a problem. 

Not everyone wants to invest a few hundred in a new office chair. So instead, you can purchase a budget-friendly lumbar support pillow. This will encourage you to sit more comfortably and lean into the pillow rather than moving forward to the edge of your seat. 

Mouse

This might sound like a strange one, but actually, your mouse can contribute to aches and pains.

The repetitive motions of your mouse hand and the touchpad on the keyboard can stress the muscles in your wrists and fingers. Causing a repetitive strain injury and maybe carpal tunnel. When it comes to your mouse, you should have one that is comfortable to hold and is easy to grip. 

If using your mouses causes fatigue or pain, then it might be time to change to something less reliant on your wrist. A trackball or a stylus and graphics pad input might be ideal. They allow you to keep your wrist in a neutral position. 

De-stress

When you are stressed or anxious, you tense your muscles up.

So it is important that inside and outside of your workstation you have things that will help you relax. This might include things like plenty of plants, a stress-ball, a speaker to play music, or noise-canceling headphones.

Having plants in and around your office space is known to have a calming impact on people. Not only that, but the green can increase your productivity. 

Make sure that you are also getting a good night’s sleep too. This will mean you are more likely to be able to lower your stress levels and have more relaxed muscles in general. 

The most important thing is that you test out your workstation setup. Raising and lowering your desk, testing a range of office chairs. You should sit in the position for a while and pay attention to how your body feels. It will take some trial and error to find the position that works best for your height. 

Researching the wide array of lumbar support pillows. 

Looking at your sleeping position can also contribute to back and neck pain. 

There are a number of sleeping positions that will support a more healthy neck and back alignment.  

It is important that you take care of your neck and back as much as possible if you wish to avoid back problems later in life. 

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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