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Ergonomics at the Desk and Computer: A Chiropractor’s Advice

Ergonomics at the Desk and Computer: A Chiropractor’s Advice

Proper ergonomics combined with proper posture and proper work habits are very important in maintaining health. Carpal tunnel, headaches, arm, neck, and back pain are common problems associated with poor ergonomics. Here are ways to improve your work situation:


1. Use a mouse pad with a wrist rest and a keyboard wrist rest. These minimize irritation to the wrist and prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. The hand and lower forearm should line up such that the wrist should not be bent up.
2. The mouse and keyboard should be at the edge of the desk so that you do not have to lean forward or shrug your shoulders to use them. Your elbows should be bent at your side at ninety degrees.

3.  The displayed font on your computer monitor should be large enough so that you do not need to lean forward to see the screen. Address this by moving the monitor closer, changing the screen resolution, or changing the font display size.  The center of your monitor should be at eye level. A monitor shelf or books can be used to prop the monitor up.
4.  Minimize glare on the screen. Use overhead diffuse lights (such as fluorescents) rather than lights in front or behind you. Avoid placing your computer monitor facing or in front of windows.
5.  Use a paper holder to hold papers at eye level.

6.  Use a natural keyboard that allows your arms and wrist to lie at their natural angles.

7.  The keyboard and mouse should be placed on a surface such that your shoulders can rest completely down and your elbows are bent at ninety degrees. If this is not possible, see if a keyboard shelf will help.

Desks and Chairs:

1.  Use a chair that will allow your feet to touch flatly on the ground with the knees bent at ninety degrees. If you are unable to touch the ground, a footstool or book may help. The most versatile is an adjustable swivel chair that will not only change heights for different users but also rotate in case you need to direct yourself in different directions. You do not want to twist your body to perform tasks, especially those that last for extended periods of time.
2.  Your back should touch the backrest of the chair. The backrest should conform to your lumbar (lower back) arch.  A lumbar support may help you if the chair does not have adequate support.

3.  When using a computer or writing at the desk, the chair should have minimal recline.  It should be angled approximately 95 degrees backward.
4.  The desk should be of appropriate height such that when writing you do not have to shrug your shoulders and your elbows can rest at ninety degrees.


1.  Sit up straight. Do not slouch. Your head should not protrude forward.  Your shoulders should not be rounded forward.  You should not be leaning to the side.

2.  Raise books and papers to read at eye level. You may also use a book holder.

3.  Take breaks every 30 minutes.  Sitting places high levels of  stress on your back.   During these breaks, get up and move all of your joints from your feet to your head.   Stretch your muscles.   Increase blood circulation. Also use this opportunity to drink some water.

4.  Use the proper tools to do repetitive tasks. For example, sharp and comfortable scissors are important if you are doing a lot of cutting.

5.  Change tasks as often as possible. Limit work to 30 minutes per task.

Following these recommendations is critical for the avoidance of injury and continued stress and strain to the body.   These factors are often the cause of chronic pain.  Treatment of any postural related injury involves the education of patients with these ergonomic recommendations.

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