Ergonomics: Is your work station healthy?
Ergonomics is the science of designing the work space to reduce fatigue, pain and injury so you can stay comfortable at work. Sitting at a desk or in a car, especially for long periods of time, can cause stiffness, pain and injury if it is not set up properly. Check the ergonomics of your workstation with these tips:
Choose a chair that is adjustable, provides lower back support and allows your feet to rest flat on the floor when your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.
Try using a foot rest if your chair is too high for your feet to rest flat on the floor.
Be sure you have clearance between your legs and the desk (about 2 inches) and there is no storage under your desk.
Center yourself to the monitor and adjust the height so the top of the screen is just below eye level.
Position the keyboard at the center of the monitor and position yourself between the g and h keys. Place the keyboard at elbow level so your wrists are straight and the pad or tray in front of the keyboard supports your palms.
Keep it close to the side (either left or right) and at the same height as the keyboard.
- Stretch and move frequently. Take a very short break every 30 minutes and get out of your chair at least once per hour. Stretch your neck, back and limbs.
- Alternate tasks. Break up long periods of typing and mousing by performing other tasks frequently.
The single most important thing you can do for your back is to use good posture in everything you do.
- Stand up and sit up straight – don’t slouch.
- Wear comfortable shoes with low heels.
- Get enough exercise – at least 30 minutes each day.
- Do exercises that strengthen your abdomen. Try weight lifting 2 or 3 days a week to strengthen the muscles that support your back.
- If you are having trouble with your back, talk to your health care provider about exercises or physical therapy you can do to make it better.
Strengthen your back:
Try these basic exercises to improve your posture and back health:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent. Slowly lift one knee to your chest and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times with each leg.
- Lie on your back with both knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your buttocks and slowly raise your hips in the air. Hold 5 seconds then slowly lower your bottom to the floor.
Use proper lifting technique to protect your back:
- Lift with your knees while tightening your core (abdomen and back) muscles.
- Hold the object you’re lifting close to your body as you lift and carry it.
- Ask for help if the object is too heavy or large to lift safely.
Reviewed in 2019