Computer ergonomics and good computer posture tips

Understanding good computer ergonomics is important. Lots of research points to sustained sitting postures as a source of simple lower back pain. Poor computer posture can also lead to other problems too such as neck and shoulder pain and forearm and hand problems.

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One of the easiest things you can do to try and reduce postural stress and strain is to sort out your work station and get your computer posture as well optimised as possible.

A few simple computer ergonomic rules you should follow:

  • Get a good chair!

I have met so many people who manage with any old thing; the chair should fit the person, so experiment with different types as not all chairs will suit you.  A key point though, if you are using a conventional chair, make sure it has a good solid base, is height adjustable and that you can alter the angle of the backrest.

Make sure your lower back is well supported, either with a lumbar roll or by having a decent support already built into the chair. The *Mckenzie Lumbar Roll is the lumbar support of choice for most physiotherapists. I own one and have had the same one for nearly 20 years (its very shabby after all that time but I love it). They come in a variety of degrees of firmness and width. Experiment to try and get the right size. A common mistake is buying one that is too big. More is not always better - it depends on your shape.

diagram of good computer ergonomics

  • Make sure your feet are on the floor or up on a footrest.
  • Your head should be in a neutral position with your screen at about 15 degrees below eye level.

To achieve this you must have an adjustable monitor, both for tilt and for height. If you have to twist or turn to see your monitor this is very bad news!

  • Try and keep your forearms at about 90 degrees and supported on the desk top or a wrist rest.

Your upper arms should be relaxed and vertical if possible.In order to achieve this your  keyboard needs to be separate.

  • Don’t work for long periods using a notebook or laptop.

Unless you have a separate keyboard and mouse and can get the laptop monitor up to a decent height you will never get good computer ergonomics using a portable machine.

  • Don't share.

I find that often in offices, people share chairs and computer workstations. Whilst this is not always avoidable it is not good practice either. Everyone is different and your workstation should be set up for just you. Failing this, take time to readjust each time you use the computer gain – it will be worth the effort.

  • Talk to your workplace occupational health team.

Employers have a responsibility to keep you safe, that includes making sure your computer ergonomics are correct for you. Many companies will offer a computer ergonomics assessment and give advice tailored to you.

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How about ditching the chair altogether?

I have just taken the plunge and invested in a sit-stand desk. This ingenious device uses a motor to go up and down and means that you can stand up periodically to work. You can get them with a handle to wind but I went for a more expensive option of an electric motor because I know that even that small amount of inconvenience would probably discourage me from regular changes. I have been using it for a good few months now and I really love it. It helps ease my lower back pain but it has had a really good effect on my mid back and neck pain too (yes, even physio's get postural pain!)

There are so many on the market I wouldn't know what recommend for the country you are in but Amazon has a really interesting and ingenious selection of *Sit/Stand Desks and other clever solutions that are worth a look.

The Importance of Posture
Why posture matters
Correct Sitting Posture
Best Mattress and Sleeping position
Proper Lifting Techniques

Lower Back Pain Toolkit Home Page

02-Mar-2015

 

 

 

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