Tips For Proper Work Station Ergonomics
By Doug Lehman, PT
AZOPT Physical Therapist

If you have a job that requires primarily a seated position, poor posture can easily contribute to back, shoulder, and neck pain.  Spending lots of time on the computer in any setting can also be a problem if you are not using the correct posture. The good news is that there are a number of helpful tips that can improve your work station ergonomics and help decrease your symptoms of pain.

Ergonomics are design factors, for the workplace, intended to maximize productivity by minimizing your fatigue and discomfort.  Some companies have an ergonomics department which will assess your work station and order any necessary equipment.  If your company does not have this department, here are some examples of what can be done to best prevent pain:

First of all, your feet should be flat on the floor.  If your chair needs to sit high to reach your work station, you still need somewhere to support your feet.  When buying a new stool is not an option, an old phone book usually works just as well.

Your hips and knees should rest at approximately a 90 degree angle.  As a general rule, your knees should be level with your hips, or slightly below, when seated.

Your elbows should be bent to 90 degrees when working on a keyboard.  You should not have to reach up or down to get to your keyboard.  Your shoulders should be relaxed and not elevated.  Your wrists should not be bent up or down while working.  A wrist support for the keyboard and mouse are useful.

Your chair should have good support for your low back, so be sure to use it!  Sitting on the front edge of the chair for an extended period of time does NOT allow for good back support.  If you do not have good support on your chair, a lumbar roll should be used.  A small pillow or rolled up towel can be just as effective as a professional lumbar roll.

Remember to change positions often to allow your muscles to work and rest.  Changing positions allows for better posture and blood flow to your tissues.

And finally, your monitor should be at eye level.  An old phone book can again be used to help raise a monitor to the proper level.

With these tips, you are capable of completing an ergonomic assessment to your own work station.  Spending the time now can help reduce current pain or prevent future problems!  If you are experiencing back, shoulder, or neck pain, call us at 623-242-6908 to schedule an evaluation.