Modern society has allowed for many perks and benefits in the workplace in terms of access, technology and ability; however, it has also caused a more serious shift from active to sedentary behaviours. This shift manifests itself on our bodies by causing aches and pains.
The 9-5 desk job could be considered one of the most stressful positions in society, not only in terms of responsibility, but also physical pressures that this type of daily routine places on the body. Often being caught up in to-do lists reinforces bad habits by decreasing awareness of body positioning. This can in part be responsible for causing aches and pains. So if you’re one of the many people who work a desk job and also experience daily discomfort, then it’s time to review your habits and work out those kinks: that’s where workstation ergonomics come into play.
Workstation ergonomics is a focus on fitting a workplace to the individual that works in it, all while aiming to increase efficiency, productivity, and reducing discomfort/potential for injury. Lucky for you, if you work at a desk there are some specific things you can do to increase your comfort and keep your body healthy.
Ensure you have an appropriate chair. The chair should support the normal curvature of your spine and should be adjustable.
- The chair height should allow your feet to rest comfortably on the floor or on a slightly angled footrest.
- Your knees should be slightly below the level with your hips creating just over a 90-degree angle at the hips.
- Your arms should rest comfortably at your sides, whether your chair has armrests or not, your elbows should be bent at about a 90-degree angle.
- The chair length should leave about 2” between the chair and the back of your knee crease.
- The lumbar support of your chair should be positioned from the top of your pelvis extending to the small of your back. If your chair doesn’t have built-in lumbar support you can roll up a small hand towel or get an external lumbar roll.
Workstation set up: how you set up your desk and computer can make a world of a difference.
- Your computer monitor should be about an arm’s length away and directly in front of your body. More specifically, 26-30” from your eyes depending on visual acuity.
- The top 1/3 of your monitor should be at eye-level while sitting up straight. (Note: If you use two monitors, the one you use more frequently should be placed directly in front of you with the second to the side and rotated towards the middle. When you turn to look at the second monitor, rotate your whole chair not just the head. If both monitors are used equally, they should be centred with both screens rotated towards the middle.)
- Both the keyboard and mouse should be arranged so that your elbows remain bent at a 90-degree angle and your wrists are straight (not bent up or down) without your shoulders shrugging. To ensure this the height of the keyboard should be just below your elbow height, you can raise up the front portion of the keyboard to avoid bending your wrists.
- If possible, use a headset to avoid stresses on the neck if you are frequently on the phone.
- Try to avoid the use of tablets or laptops for longer projects as desktops promote a healthier spine posture.
Another benefit of modern technology is the beloved sit-stand desk. These desks allow you to raise and lower them at your leisure. While this allows you to get up off your chair for a while, reducing the amount of time spent sitting at your desk, it is important to keep in mind that neither the sitting nor standing position is recommended for an entire work shift. If a sit-stand desk is an option for you, try intervals of 20-30 minutes to start, alternating between sitting and standing.
Other things you can do to prevent workplace injury include, taking frequent breaks to walk around and/or stretch. If you continue to experience pain, seek additional help. The longer a condition is left untreated the more potential there is for harm and prolonged recovery. Physiotherapists can help as they posses key knowledge and skills to assess worksite ergonomics, provide education on safe body mechanics and work practices, make adjustments to reduce ergonomic risk factors, and provide the appropriate treatment plan and exercises to help resolve your individual ache/pain/injury.
For more information or to book an appointment call 705-380-3312 or visit the website . Surge Physiotherapy is located at 33 King William Street, Suite 204, in Huntsville. Office hours are flexible with evening appointments available (3x/week). Email – [email protected]
Stephanie is a bilingual, Registered Physiotherapist with the College of Physiotherapist of Ontario and the Canadian Physiotherapy Association who is committed to providing a hands on, personalized approach to physiotherapy.
Stephanie, a native to the Huntsville community, developed a passion for health and wellness during her youth while competing in cross-country running, nordic skiing, and track and field. Stephanie has always had a strong caring nature and fell in love with the physiotherapy profession while volunteering at a physiotherapy clinic during high school and university.
Stephanie continued to build on her passion for health care by attending McGill University and completing her Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology. During her Masters in Health Science of Physiotherapy, completed at the University of Ottawa, she completed internships in orthopaedic clinics, hospitals, home care, and neurology centres.