How to “Pain-Proof” Your Office: The New Ergonomics
By Nathan Wei
If you work in an office, it’s time you paid attention to “ergonomics” – the physical relationship between you and your office equipment.
Why? Because if you choose to ignore the basics, you’re not only risking aches and pains … you’re also risking decreased productivity. Here are four easy ways to improve your ergonomics.
Your eyes should be 24 to 36 inches from the monitor screen. The top of your monitor should be below or at eye-level. Too high or too low and your neck and shoulders could start to hurt. The monitor should be straight ahead and not off to the side.
Your feet should be on a footrest or planted firmly on the floor. The reason is that if your feet are too low, this could put stress on your low back. If your feet are too high, your knees could bark at you later.
To reduce spinal stress and minimize lower back pain, sit in a slightly reclined position in your chair. Making this work may mean using a cordless keyboard or one with a long cord. This position will definitely be friendlier to your neck.
Sometimes using a lumbar roll will help cushion the normal curve in your spine.
Most desktops are 28 to 30 inches above the floor. This is too high for computer work, so you’ll need to lower your keyboard and mouse. It’s easy to install an adjustable keyboard/mouse tray on the underside of your desk. The keyboard should be at a negative tilt, with the front edge slightly lower than the rear.
Don’t forget to use a wrist rest. This helps reduce finger and wrist fatigue, a common cause of carpal tunnel syndrome.
And by all means, take breaks. Your body wasn’t meant to operate in a single position for hours at a time.
Dr. Wei (pronounced “way”) is a board-certified rheumatologist and Clinical Director of the nationally respected Arthritis and Osteoporosis Center of Maryland (http://www.aocm.org). He is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and has served as a consultant to the Arthritis Branch of the National Institutes of Health. He is a Fellow of the American College of Rheumatology and the American College of Physicians. For more information on arthritis and related conditions, go to: Arthritis Treatment