Most people spend 40 hours a week at work. If you work at a desk with a computer, that adds up to a lot time spent sitting, typing or talking on the phone. Add in your free time at home surfing the Internet, writing email, watching videos or playing games, and you may easily spend 60 hours a week or more in a chair in front of a computer.
To the back specialists at the Southeastern Spine Institute in Charleston, spine health is a matter of vital concern. If you end up with back pain, it can affect your whole life, limiting your movement and taking the joy out of each day. Prevent a future of back pain by following these tips for setting up an ergonomic workstation, both at work and at home.
1. Find your neutral position.
Spine health begins with how you naturally sit in an office chair. Put your feet flat on the floor. If you need to adjust your chair to the correct height, do it now. Sit back in the chair and relax your shoulders. Rest your hands in your lap. This neutral position should feel very comfortable, with no pain, no twinges, and no clenching.
2. Adjust to your desk.
Little things matter, like where you place your keyboard and mouse. Ideally, they should be no more than two inches above your thighs. Use a keyboard tray if you have one. If not, you can adjust the height of your chair, but if you do this, use a foot rest to keep your feet comfortable and your knees bent correctly. Your legs should never dangle. Also, never use a wrist rest, as it tends to hamper circulation.
3. Position your monitor correctly.
Workstation ergonomics really do help to maintain your spine health. Place your monitor on the desk in front of you so that if you extend one arm, the middle finger of that hand just brushes the screen. That’s about two feet. Your eyes should line up with the top quarter of the screen. If you have to look up at your screen, your neck pays the price. Finally, tilt the monitor down slightly to reduce the possible glare.
4. Sit back in your chair.
It’s worth investing in a comfortable, supportive office chair. Find one with adequate lumbar support to protect your lower back from strain. When you sit back in your chair, your lower back should be flush to the chair, your bottom should feel comfortable and there should be a few inches of space between the seat and your knees. And of course, your feet should rest flat on the floor.
5. Don’t be chair-bound.
We’ve saved the best advice for last. Spine health includes movement, so don’t sit all day long. Get up every few hours to stretch or walk around. The worst activity for your back in no activity. Taking a break is good for your eyes, too, and it helps you clear your head so you can be more productive. Be smart and healthy with an ergonomic workstation.