More and more of us are starting to feel back pain, neck pain and hip and leg pain from our long hours at the office. So many of us in fact that it is now becoming widely studied and researchers are finding solutions for our back problems. Much of what we can do to prevent back pain is proactive BEFORE we start to have issues. This starts with setting up your work station in a preventative way.
STEP 1: Your Desk Chair
- You should push your hips and lower back as far back as they can go into the chair.
- Adjust the seat height so your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are equal to, or just a bit lower than your hips in the seat.
- Adjust the back of the chair to a tad over a 90 degree angle. Make sure your upper and lower back are supported. Use a lumbar support if necessary.
- Adjust the armrests so that your shoulders are relaxed. If you think that your armrests are in the way, remove them.
STEP 2: Your Key Board
- Your keyboard should be close to your body. Keep your work close to you.
- Position the keyboard so that it is directly in front of you. .
- Adjust the keyboard height so that your shoulders are relaxed. Your elbows should be angled a bit over 90 degrees and your arms, wrists and hands are straight.
- Place the mouse as close as possible to the keyboard. Placing it on a slightly inclined surface can also help reducing strain. Using a mouse bridge overtop the 10 key pad area of the key board can also keep the mouse closer to you and reduce strain.
- If your feet dangle from your chair you should remember to use a footrest.
STEP 3: Computer Monitor and Phones
Placing your monitor incorrectly can cause your body to be in awkward poses, in turn causing strain and pain on your back. Make sure to adjust your monitor so that you are in a neutral position.
- Place your monitor directly in front of you above your keyboard.
- The monitor should be placed about 2 to 3 inches ABOVE your eye level.
- You should be seated at least an arm's length away from the screen.
- Reduce glare by placing screens at right angles to windows and adjust curtains or blinds as needed.
- If you are on the phone often, you should place your telephone within easy reach, and use a headset or speaker phone to eliminate cradling the handset.
Step 4: Pauses and Breaks
- Make sure to take short stretch breaks every 30 minutes. After each hour of work, take a break or change tasks for at least 5-10 minutes. It is good practice to leave your computer during lunch breaks.
- Avoid tiring your eyes by resting and refocusing your eyes periodically or by covering them with your palms for several seconds.
- Always, always, always practice correct posture when working.
~Sean Hogan has coached hockey at the international and collegiate levels for over ten years. He has spoken at numerous events about culture building, goal setting and healthy lifestyles. He holds a Master’s of Science Degree in Recreation and Sports Science with an emphasis on Coaching Education from OHIO University.