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Ergonomic Guide for Computer Users

Work from home in comfort

The purpose of ergonomics is to promote physical comfort, productivity, and efficiency, reduce physical injury, stress and fatigue, and  increase satisfaction with work and workspace.  With the never-ending lockdown in place, here are some ergonomic tips to help since you’re spending more time at your desk working from home.  Either read through the tips or skip down to the summary.

  1. ChairYour chair is the most used piece of equipment in your office.  The comfort level depends on its design and how it adjusts and adapts to your shape and size.  Adjusting it can increase overall stability, enhance comfort, improve leg circulation, reduce stress on your back, help minimize fatigue.  Properly sit in a chair in an upright position with your legs and arms bent at a 90° angle.  You can adapt a chair by sitting on a stability ball, which prevents slouching otherwise you’ll hit the floor and your ego won’t be only thing that will be bruised.  Core strengthening exercises (like pilates) also helps stabilize your core.
  2. Keyboard: Your keyboard affects the height of your posture.  It should be at seated elbow height, as your wrists are straighter and shoulders relaxed. This posture also reduces the risk of wrist problem and/or neck and shoulder pain.
  3. Wrist rests: Wrist rests help prevent pressure on tendons and nerves.  The wrist rest should be cushioned, with the front edge slightly curved and at the same height as the keyboard.
  4. Mouse: Your mouse should be positioned as close to the keyboard and at matching height, as possible.
  5. Monitor: Your monitor should be at top of your eye-level to reduce head and neck strain.  The ideal monitor distance is 18 to 30 inches away.
  6. Vision: Your eyes should have enough illumination not to cause eye strain, blurred vision, dry, itchy, tired or red eyes, contact lens discomfort, colour perception difficulties, slowness in changing focus, sensitivity to glare or headaches.  Reflect light away from your eyes by changing the position of the monitor, reduce contrast thereby reducing illumination.  Make sure your gaze is at eye-level and at the centre of the screen.  Increase the font size for viewing documents on the screen.  Take regular eye breaks, every 20 – 45 minutes to help reduce dryness and eyestrain.
  7. Miscellaneous: Drink plenty of fluids (a glass an hour), to prevent dehydration and headache symptoms. Move away from your desk every hour to help prevent low back pain and discomfort. Stretch your hands and wrists to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

In summary:

  1. Place your feet flat on the floor or a foot rest, for support.
  2. The angle between your thigh and lower leg should be at 90-degrees, to enhance blood circulation to your legs.
  3. There should be space between the back of your knees and front edge of the chair. Try using a lumbar support to sit forward.
  4. Your backrest should match the curved lumbar area of your back. Move the backrest up/down for lumbar support.
  5. Your keyboard should be at elbow height, with straight wrists, relaxed shoulders; for greater comfort.
  6. Have an adjustable work station. Well-adjusted chairs improve body position and blood circulation, reduce muscular effort and decrease pressure on your back.
  7. Sit close to your work to avoid slouching.
  8. The top of the monitor should be at seated eye level to improve head/neck posture.
  9. Have a holder accessible to improve neck posture and reduce eye fatigue.
  10. Good lighting is essential for the head/neck to be kept in good alignment.
  11. Reduce eye soreness by doing eye exercises, closing your eyes, use eyedrops to prevent dryness or looking off into the distance.
  12. Guard against fatigue, as it is the precursor to tendinitis, overuse syndromes and repetitive strain.
  13. Ice packs can help with pain, as do over the counter anti-inflammatory medicines.
  14. Change your posture frequently to prevent muscle stress or stiffness.
  15. Sit up straight with your chin tucked in and look straight ahead. Keep your shoulders relaxed, stretch regularly and breathe deeply.

See your doctor if the pain persists or doesn’t go away within a day or two.
See your therapist if treatment is recommended.

Reference: When Aches Become Injuries, The RSI handbook

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