Be more comfortable at your desk

There are many easy ways to be more comfortable at your desk and to minimise stress and strain on your body, that can then lead to pain and discomfort.  One of the most common ailments we see in the clinic is headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain/tendonitis, and mid back pain.  Most people’s symptoms are often improved with changes to their lifestyle, especially their posture, which includes their desk and computer setup and car seat settings.

Here are some easy to follow tips to assist you in setting up your workstation in a comfortable and efficient way.

Posture

  • Maintain a relaxed posture, especially in your shoulders, neck and wrists.
  • Relax elbows by your side.
  • Place elbows at 90 degrees so forearms are horizontal.

Chair

  • Place your chair so that the desk or keyboard drawer is at the height of, or slightly below your elbows when relaxed by your side.
  • With your knees at approximately 90 degrees and level with or slightly lower than your hips, your feet should rest comfortably on the floor or on a footrest.  You can use phone books or a plastic container etc for a footrest.
  • Align the curve on the chair back with the curve in your lower back.
  • There should be a 2 finger width gap between the back of your knees and the front edge of the chair.
  • If an armrest is used, place just below the height of the elbow when resting at side.

Computer position

  • Place monitor and keyboard directly in front of you.
  • Place the mouse beside the keyboard.
  • Sit at a comfortable distance from the keys and the mouse (the length of your forearm).
  • Place the monitor 45-61cm from your eyes, with the top half of the monitor at eye height placing your neck in a neutral position.  You can use a monitor stand, CPU or phone books to increase the height of the monitor or remove the CPU or monitor support to lower the monitor.

Other stationary

  • Place document holder beside the screen at the same height and distance your eyes as the monitor.
  • Place items most commonly used closest to your reach.

Efficient desktop computer setup

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Tips for a more comfortable work day

  • Take regular 5-10 minute breaks and even more 1-2 minute breaks from a prolonged position.
  • Stand up or go for a walk.
  • Do some stretches.
  • Change your activity regularly.
  • Look across the room or outside a window and focus on objects at varying distances.

Stretches

Here are some exercises that can be done before, during and/or after work or incorporated into a gym or exercise program.  It is recommended to hold each stretch for 20 seconds.  For pictures of these stretches, click on the following link – Stretches

 

Neck Rotation

Start with neck in a neutral position.

Slowly rotate head toward the left shoulder.

Repeat exercise by rotating head to right shoulder.

 

Neck Sidebend

Start with neck in a neutral position.

Slowly tilt head to the left (left ear to left shoulder)

Repeat exercise on the right side.

 

Chin Tuck

Start with neck in a neutral position.

Glide head back without lifting chin (double chin).

Forward Shoulder Stretch

Start with back and neck in a neutral posture.

Place right arm in front of body with elbow flexed at a 90° angle.

Hold right elbow with left hand and gently pull elbow towards body.

Repeat exercise stretching left shoulder.

 

Flexor/Extensor Stretch

Place right arm in front of body with elbow flexed at a 90° angle, palm facing downward.

Use the left hand to gently bend wrist upwards until a slight stretch is felt.

Return to resting position.

Using left hand, gently bend wrist downward.

Repeat exercise with right hand.

 

Backward Reach

Start with back and neck in a neutral posture.

Interlace fingers behind back.

Slowly turn elbows inward towards one another.

 

Forward Shoulder Stretch

Start with back and neck in a neutral posture.

Place right arm in front of body with elbow flexed at a 90° angle.

Hold right elbow with left hand and gently pull elbow towards body.

Repeat exercise stretching left shoulder.

 

Finger Fan

Make a fist (palm facing down) with left hand.

Slowly spread thumb and fingers far apart from one another and hold.

Repeat exercise with right hand.

 

Butterfly

While seated or standing, interlace fingers behind head.

Pull shoulder blades toward each other until you feel tension through your upper back.

Hold position.

 

Chest Stretch

Move to a corner of the room.

Face the corner and place each forearm on a wall.

Place one foot in front of the other and slowly stretch by leaning forward towards the wall.

 

Reach

While seated or standing, reach upwards with both arms and hold.

 

Leg Bend

While seated, hold onto left leg by interlacing fingers just over the knee.

Slowly pull leg towards chest.

Repeat exercise with right leg.

 

Calf Stretch

Stand a minimal distance from a solid support, leaning against it using your forearms as support.

Bend the left leg, with the left foot placed in front of your body.

Keep the right leg straight behind you (heel flat on floor).

Slowly move hips forward. Repeat exercise with left leg.

 

Ankle Rotation

While seated, hold left leg straight (toes pointing upward).

Point toes toward body and hold.

Point toes forward (away from body) and hold.

Return to starting position.

Point toes to the left and hold, and then to the right and hold. Return to starting position.

Repeat exercise with right leg.

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