Our working lives don’t have to lead to strains on your eyes, backs, and wrists, according to ergonomic experts. But, the trick is in the angles. When working for extended periods of time, it’s key to make sure that your chair, desk, and computer are positioned to support your back and neck. Otherwise, that’s when you may begin to put a strain on your body long-term.
Here are the best angles for working at your desk, according to an ergonomics expert from the University of British Columbia.
Keep Your Neck Straight
The human head weighs a whopping 11 pounds, not far off from the average 12 lb bowling ball. But, that’s when our backs and necks are straight. When we lean forward or backward, even by 15 degrees, our heads double in weight (to about 32 lbs). When we really slouch, our heads can weigh up to 42 lbs. That’s a lot of pressure on our neck and back, and that’s why it’s important to keep our head as straight as possible when working for prolonged periods.
To do this, make sure the top line of your monitor meets your line of vision when your head is straight, and not over or too much under. Experts recommend using a laptop stand (or a stack of books) to raise your monitor from its usual height to achieve this, as typical setups with laptops and monitors will be too low.
Keep Your Wrists Off The Table
Many people rest their elbows or wrists on their tables and keyboards (they may even have a rest for their wrists). Experts discourage this, however, because it puts too much pressure on your wrists and forearms. Instead, have your keyboard positioned flat below your elbows, so that your wrists and forearms come down a bit to type. You want your elbows at a 90 degree angle, at least. At most, you want them at a 110 degree angle.
You can go as far as having your keyboard tilt away from you, experts say. The key is that you don’t want your wrists to have to angle upwards to type, as this is what puts unnecessary strain on them, and will cause pain down the road.
Keep Your Feet On The Floor
You want to have your knees at a 90 degree angle, bending at the same line as your hip (or slightly lower). This minimizes any strain on your hips and lower back. It’s important that both feet rest firmly on the floor, too. To do this, you can grab a stack of books or a footstool to create this angle.
Other Things To Note
Don’t Work On The Couch
Sorry to say, but working on the couch is one of the worst things for you back. When you’re working and sitting for extended periods of time, it’s best to be sitting on a firm chair, which helps to support your posture and relieve strain on your back muscles. Cushions, beds, and couches aren’t actually meant for you to sit on for long periods of time, and after repeatedly straining those muscles by working from your couch for months at a time, you could do some serious damage to your back and neck.
Experts say that stretching and regular exercise of your back and leg muscles will help to ease any pain you feel as a result of sitting to work. They recommend this, rather than simply taking any ibuprofen or Tylenol for the pain.
Get Up and Move Every 30 Minutes
Experts also recommend taking a break from sitting every 30 minutes to break up the time you’re at your desk.