For many of us, the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic have substantially changed our day-to-day lives. A lot of us, including myself, are spending a considerable amount of our time working from home. This often means sitting at the same desk for hours, multiple days a week. Although spending so much time at a desk is not ideal for many, there are ways to improve your set-up that can help optimize your workspace. In this blog post, I will explore multiple ways that you can improve your desk ergonomics.
As many of you may have experienced, sitting at a desk for many hours can lead to discomfort and pain in the neck, back, wrists, fingers, and more. This can often be the case regardless of predisposed musculoskeletal issues. Luckily, there are ways to prevent these body aches from occurring with proper desk ergonomics:
Try to use a chair that best supports your spine as it will improve your posture. Back pain is likely to occur if you spend a lot of time in a chair with no support as you can end up in a hunching position. If possible, adjust the chair so that your feet can rest flat on the floor and your thighs are parallel to the floor in order to maintain a straight back. If your chair is too high off the ground, you can alternatively use a footrest to get the right angle. When buying a new chair, I recommend getting a chair that is adjustable as this can optimize your seating position. A chair with armrests can also be beneficial in allowing your arms to relax and giving your wrists a break.
Having your screen at eye level on your desk will prevent you from straining your neck and will promote good posture. A desk that is too high can strain your forearms and a desk that is too low can result in back hunching. If your chair does not have armrests, use the desk as an arm rest as this too can help you avoid straining your wrists. Additionally, your legs should be able to fit comfortably under your desk.
Positioning your screen
An incorrect screen set-up can result in neck pain, shoulder pain, fatigue and headaches. It is key to make sure that your screen is at a good distance away from your face. A screen that is too close can result in headaches and a screen that is too far may be difficult to work with. The recommended distance between your face and your screen is about 45-70cm. The lighting settings on your device should be considered as well, as this can help you avoid eye fatigue. Each device is different and offers alternatives to the default setting. Certain settings can help you avoid straining your eyes depending on the lighting of the room you are working in.
Good body posture habits are key to avoiding discomfort while working from home. The best part is that maintaining good body posture can be achieved regardless of the quality of desk, chair and screen that you are using. First, it is important that your shoulders remain relaxed and low. It is recommended that your forearms are parallel to the floor as this can help with supporting your wrists. Keeping your neck and back straight while avoiding slouching can prevent back pain for occurring. This includes reducing leaning to any one side as this will affect good body posture. Try keeping a straight spine while working by bringing your hips as close to the back of your chair as possible.
I hope that this blog post provided you with some information that you can use to optimize your workspace! For more wellness information check out @carletonwellness on Instagram.
(Health Promotion Team Leader)
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