by Richard Hollis
We see many people whose problems stem or are aggravated by poor posture whilst working at their computer. Of course, prevention is better than treatment, so even if you don’t have any problems, it’s good to make sure your desk is set up correctly.
If you already get any discomfort when you sit at your workstation, then it is definitely time you took a look at why this is before things get worse. Let’s face it; many of us spend more time at work than anywhere else.
Here are a few simple rules to follow when it comes to using your workstation:
- Make sure your hips are slightly above your knees when you sit – this transfers your weight away from your lower back. If your seat can tilt, try putting it 10 degrees forwards. You can also try using a ‘wedge cushion’, which has the same effect.
- Sit right back on the chair, in the ‘corner’ between the backrest and seat and have the tip of your shoulder blades in contact with the backrest. This will help to stop you slouching.
- Adjust your screen so that the top of it is at the same level as your eyebrows. Imagine there is a piece of string attached to the back of your head gently pulling it back.
- Your keyboard and mouse should be within close reach so that they can be used with your elbows relaxed at your side.
- Have both feet on the ground – and don’t cross your legs.
- Take frequent breaks at least once an hour. This break must require a change in posture, not just sitting down somewhere else. Get up from your seat, have a stretch and a short walk to the water cooler and back, for example. This habit will also help prevent eyestrain from screen use.
- The picture below shows a workstation that has been set up well.
If you make these adjustments and find that you are still having problems, then you should consider taking some further action, such as the following:
Have a workstation assessment. Let a qualified professional take a look at your desk and how you use it. Many chiropractors and chartered physiotherapists have taken an HSE workstation assessors’ course and can help you.
Have your problem assessed by a chiropractor or other professional to put your mind at rest by making sure it isn’t anything more serious. Most problems get better with a combination of the right treatment and exercises.
Reduce stress. Stress is also a factor in many peoples back trouble, especially if their back trouble is work related. Of course, resolving this is not always easy, but if your health is suffering, then you should look for a solution.
There are many types of specially designed chairs and cushions around that may help and I offer my comments on some of the products available here.