How To Sit At A Computer The Right Way: An Ergonomic Guide To Computer Workstations

With postural and musculoskeletal problems on the rise amongst office workers, finding the correct position at your workstation is more important than ever. Even more so now that many people are adjusting to working from home. Back pain is the number one complaint amongst people who sit most of the day. Luckily, learning how to keep good posture can help, and prevent future issues.

The position of your body relative to your desk and computer monitor is crucial. The type of desk you use, the positioning of your equipment, and the chair you sit in are all vital to get this right. Luckily we’ve covered everything, so you can work without the worry of strains and work-related injury.

How Should I Sit At My Desk?

standing deskMaintaining the correct posture at your desk can save you a lot of grief. Knowing this is fine, but many of us do not know how best to sit at our workstations to help our body. 

To maintain good posture you should aim for the following:

  • Your body should be close to the desk. 
  • You should be upright, and not leaning backwards, arching the neck and spine. 
  • Knees should be lower than or level with the hips.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor (or footrest if one is being used).
  • A gap of 1-2 inches between the knee and edge of the seat should be maintained.
  • The angle between the things and trunk should be between 100 and 120 degrees.
  • Shoulders should be relaxed and level, and elbows should be by your side.
  • Make sure your eye level is 2-3 inches below the top of the monitor (or lower if you use bifocals). 

The ideal position is not easy to achieve without the right equipment. An adjustable chair, and a desk which is designed for the purpose are essential if you are to protect yourself from aches, strains, RSI’s and back problems. 

How To Set Up A Computer Workstation

If we imagine we’re building an ergonomic workstation from scratch, here are the basics you need plus a few options. 

  • Desk – Computer desk or standing desk. 
  • Ergonomic Chair – Could include sit/stand stool, active seating. 
  • Monitor riser or monitor arms – To correctly position your monitor or monitors.
  • Footrest – if your feet cannot reach the ground in your optimum position relative to desk and monitor. 

Computer Desks

height adjustable deskComputer desks are designed to accommodate a monitor and keyboard at a comfortable level for the user, often featuring a slide-out keyboard tray, and a large flat surface above for the computer, monitor and any other equipment. 

They should be high enough that you can slide your chair underneath to get close to their workstation, with enough leg room underneath that a comfortable position can be maintained, with feet flat on the floor. Your eyes should be 2 to 3 inches below the top of the monitor, and arms should be level with the keyboard.

Height Adjustable Desks 

Sit-stand desks and height-adjustable desks provide the option to change your position during the day, and are the best option for finding the ideal seated and standing position. As it is so important to change your posture during the day, a standing desk is a great option for many. Height adjustable desks have a whole host of other benefits too.

Benefits Of Height Adjustable Desks

The benefits of height adjustable desks start with the more obvious, postural plusses. As we’ve covered above, the angle and position you take relative to your monitor and keyboard is crucial to prevent RSI, general aches and pains, and more serious spinal problems.

height adjustable deskThe ability to make micro-adjustments to the height of your desk makes it much easier to find and lock in your optimum body position and keep good posture. Making sure your monitor is level with your eyes, and your arms to your keyboard is much easier if you can alter the desk height with ease.

Changing your posture and position during the day also relieves strain on your muscles and joints, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to spend part of the day working standing up (or leaning on a stool). Height adjustable desks make this possible. See more in our guide on using a standing desk the right way.

Standing for part of the day is also a great way of spending less time sedentary: a key contributor to obesity and related health problems. Even better, standing leads to increased blood flow, which can boost energy levels and productivity.

How To Use A Height Adjustable Desk

Modern height-adjustable desks are super easy to operate, and most can be adjusted with the press of a button. They give you the option of moving from sitting to standing in a matter of seconds. 

Most experts agree that roughly 30 minutes standing out of every hour is a good level to aim for. If you have never used a standing desk before, * it is recommended that you build up your standing time. Try standing ten minutes of each hour at first, and add 5 minutes at a time as you feel more comfortable. 

Calculating Your Ideal Sitting and Standing Height

As a starting point for setting up the desk, we have included this table which shows the ideal sitting and standing heights relative to your height. 

Remember that when standing, you will most likely be wearing shoes (if you’re working in the office). So factor the height of your shoes/heels into the equation. If you work from home or shoeless, of course, don’t worry. 

Users of bifocal lenses will need their monitors slightly lower to accommodate the layout of the lenses. If you follow the guide and find you’re still not comfortable, feel free to adjust until you are. 

Adjustable Office Chairs 

Your chair takes the lead role in supporting your body, so a chair which can adapt to the many sizes and shapes we come in is crucial. A good chair can prevent upper back pain, lumbar issues, neck strain and RSI. That’s why an adjustable ergonomic chair that can be set up for your body is recommended. Below are three of the main features you should look for in an office chair.

computer chair heightSeat Height

The ability to alter the chair height is crucial to allow you to find the optimum position. Most good quality adjustable chairs will have pneumatic or gas lift. Height should be set so your forearms reach your keyboard with your arms by your side and bent at a 90-degree angle at the elbow. 

Backrest

The backrest should be height adjustable, to make sure both the lumbar region, lower back, upper back and your neck are properly supported. Many seats will have adjustable lumbar support, so the muscles in your lower back are fully supported. If the backrest has adjustable tilt, aim for a 100-120 degree angle between the trunk and thighs.

Armrests

If you have shoulder or neck strain, supporting the weight of your arms could be a contributing factor. However, it is important that your armrests do not prevent you moving your chair underneath the desk. You need to be able to get as close as possible to your computer, so if the armrests prevent this they should be lowered. 

Footrest

If your feet do not reach the floor when seated on your chair, a footrest is a must. It will help you support some of your weight on your feet, minimising strain on the other core muscle groups in your back.  Rests should have a non-slip, sloped surface, and grip the floor sufficiently to not move.

Lighting

Good lighting prevents eye strain, but also the bad postural habits we develop when leaning in for a better view. For writing and reading tasks, light should be relatively high, but computer tasks require a lower level. 

How To Position Desk Equipment

The way we configure our desk layouts can make as much difference as the desks and chairs we choose. Below are some of the key things to consider when setting up your workstation. 

setting up computer monitorSetting Up Your Monitor

The placement of your monitor should be carefully considered:

  • The screen should be directly in front.
  • Set the screen between eye level, and no lower than with the top of the screen around 3 inches above eye level, to minimise eye fatigue.
  • The screen should be roughly one arm’s length away from your eyes. 
  • Monitor risers and monitor arms should be used for greater flexibility of positioning.

Setting Up Multiple Monitors

If you use more than one monitor: 

  • If you have a primary monitor, this should be set up centrally so you face it. Secondary monitors should be set to one side, in a position where you can swivel your chair to see (without twisting your neck. 
  • If you use both equally, an arched configuration should be used. 
  • Multiple monitor arms and dual monitor arms provide the greatest positional flexibility. 

How To Set Up Your Keyboard

Your keyboard should be directly in front of you, so you can type without twisting. With your arms by your side and your elbows bent at 90 degrees your fingers should reach the middle row of keys with your forearms flat and supported by the desk. 

Touch (or floating) typists will normally set their keyboards slightly lower so they can hover over the keys. The armrests should be high enough to support the weight of their arms in this position. 

Positioning Your Mouse Or Track Pad

Your mouse or trackpad should be as close to your keyboard as possible and at the same height. You might want to consider a slimline keyboard without the number pad to allow you to move your pointer closer in.

Laptop Computer Placement

Laptops are not ideal for long term use on their own, but if you do need to use one, consider adding an external monitor, or external keyboard and mouse. Coupled with a laptop riser or monitor arms, it is still possible to find a safe position. 

setting up computer mouse and keyboard

Document Positioning

Any documents you are working with should be placed as close to the monitor as possible and in the same eye line. This minimises the movement in the neck when working. 

If you are looking at the document more than the screen, consider placing the document centrally and shifting your monitor to one side.

Telephone Position

Telephones should be placed centrally and no more than an arms-length away, to prevent stretching and twisting. If working in an environment that receives a high volume of calls, the use of headsets is recommended to save workers from the strain of repeatedly picking up, and holding the phone for long periods. 

What Do I Do If My Desk Is Too High?

If your desk is too high, you can try raising your chair. If your feet don’t reach the floor, use a footrest. It is important that you find the correct level relative to your computer setup to avoid strains. If the ideal position, with your arms level with your keyboard and eyes level with your monitor, is not attainable, you should consider a sit-stand desk. 

This will allow you the flexibility to find your ideal seated position. 

How Do You Counteract Sitting At A Desk All Day?

Even in the optimum position, sitting in the same posture all day is still problematic. The best way to counteract this is to change your posture as often as possible. Most problems occur when one muscle group is overused, so sharing the strain across muscle groups can make a huge difference. 

height adjustable desk and chair

There are many ways you can do this. Rotating your tasks can help, allowing you to build more active jobs in throughout the day. Taking short breaks every 30 minutes to get out of your chair and walk around will keep your joints moving, boost blood flow and let your body reset. If you work in a busy environment where you are often tied to your desk though, this might not be possible. 

Height adjustable desks remain one of the best ways to alter your posture and keep active during the workday. They actively encourage users to vary their posture during the day, and they are known to be effective in relieving back pain and other workplace ailments. They also make achieving the correct posture much easier, whether it’s seated or standing, which prevents injuries occurring in the first place. View Desky’s range of standing desks today and improve your health at the workplace.

source https://desky.com.au/blogs/news/how-to-sit-at-a-computer-the-right-way

How To Use A Standing Desk Correctly

Many have now made the switch from static to standing desks, but there is still some debate about how best they should be used. This means that many owners of standing desks are still not 100% sure how to utilise them correctly. The benefits of standing desk use are well known. Using a standing desk effectively can promote good health and save you from pain and strains, and boost your productivity. So it’s a shame that some aren’t getting the most from their sit-stand desk.

Here we’ve provided some guidelines you can follow when using a standing desk, so you can reap all the health benefits whether sitting or standing. We’ll also give you some posture tips, and show you how to use your desk to avoid pain. We’ll advise on how long you should spend standing, and finding the perfect height for your desk, so you can get all the standing desk benefits going, to make sure you’re healthy and pain-free for years to come.

How To Use A Standing Desk While Sitting

Some people think that so long as they are alternating between sitting and standing with a height adjustable desk, they don’t need to be so careful with their seated position. Even if you sit and stand at work, you could be missing out on some of the health benefits. You can still cause strains and backaches from a poor seated posture, even if you’re not spending long periods sitting.

Below are some tips on how to work safely in a seated position.

Use An Ergonomic Chair

using ergonomic chair

Ergonomic chairs are designed to cushion and support the load-bearing areas of your body. The overuse of these areas causes pain and over time can lead to chronic conditions, even if you only spend relatively short amounts of time seated. A chair with adjustable back and lumbar support should be the minimum.

A fully adjustable ergonomic chair allows you to set up so your unique body shape is supported where it’s needed. Adjustable tilt, armrests and neck support should help make sure you maintain the perfect seated posture. It will also allow you to position yourself perfectly relative to your desk and screen.

Find The Perfect Position

The way that you sit and are supported is super important, but it’s how you sit relative to your desk, keyboard and monitor which really makes the difference. The correct position should help to avoid neck pain, lower back pain and stop you from developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

First you should find the correct seating position:

  • Use the adjustable parameters to find the most comfortable seated position, so you can feel your back is supported.
  • Set yourself up so you are sat with your feet perfectly flat on the floor, with your knees around 3 inches from the edge of your seat.
  • Your trunk should be at an angle of around 100-120 degrees relative to your thighs.

Once you have your seat set up, it’s time to find the best position relative to your desk. Standing desks allow you to find the perfect height. Pull into your desk and raise or lower until your forearms are resting on the desk. Here’s what you’re looking for:

  • Your arms are close to your body, with your forearms at a 90-degree angle to your body.
  • Your hands reach the middle of your keyboard without stretching.
  • It’s ok if your fingers hover slightly over the keys, but your forearms should be supported by either the armrests on your chair or your desk. Your wrists should not be bending downwards.
  • The top of your monitor should be 2-3 inches above eye level. This helps keep the neck and spine in a natural position.

Position Your Monitor

If you have the rest of your position right but your monitor is too low, or high even, then you will need to find a way to reposition your monitor. If it’s too low, a monitor arm may work, or if you’re feeling low-tech, a pile of books might do it. We would recommend this for an office set up though!

For maximum control, you should consider using a dedicated monitor arm, which allows you a greater range of flexibility in positioning. They have the distinct advantage of creating space on your standing desk, which is a welcome side product! If you use multiple monitors, then a dual monitor arm is by far the best way of positioning your monitors, and allows you to easily chop and change as you vary tasks.

Multi-Screen Setups

multi screen

If you have a primary monitor, you should set it up as described above, with your secondary screen just to one side. However, if you are frequently switching or using both you should position them in an arc. The join between the two monitors is the point at which you judge your eye level, and position yourself relative to your keyboard.

Arrange your desk

Screen placement is important, but so is the placement of your keyboard and mouse, and everything else on your standing desk. Your keyboard should be directly in front of you as you sit face on. You should have your mouse mat or trackpad as close to the keyboard as possible to avoid twisting or placing strain on your wrists.

Take Breaks And Change Position Frequently

One of the best ways to relieve strain on muscle groups is simply to stop straining them. This is especially true of the back. So changing your position during the day can help. This can mean getting up and walking around, or taking short breaks just to sit back with your arms away from the keyboard.

The best way of alternating position, as we all know, is using a standing desk. The body is designed neither to sit nor stand, but to move, and the act of changing position itself is beneficial. Moving position frequently, and taking breaks, is thought to be the best for your health.

How To Use A Standing Desk While Standing

Working while standing is alien to many, conditioned as we are to the more sedentary approach that has been the norm for so long. So it’s no surprise that many people don’t know the best way to approach a standing desk, as strange as that sounds. Standing up at desk spaces is most beneficial in the correct posture, and otherwise can aggravate back pain and cause other problems.

Not many of us are particularly good at maintaining proper posture throughout the day, flat out. That’s why it’s a great idea to be conscious of it while you work, as over time this could improve your posture overall. To do this though, it’s important that you get your standing desk set up correctly, to avoid creating more problems than you solve.

Maintaining Good Posture While Standing

So what is good posture? It’s certainly important, but few of us put enough effort into maintaining it. If you’re going to spend a portion of your workday standing though, it’s crucial that you keep it in mind.

Below are a few pointers that should help you maintain a good standing posture:

  • Your weight should be mostly on the balls (or back) of your feet.
  • Your knees should be slightly bent, and your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • You should be stood up straight, with your shoulder pulled back slightly.
  • Your stomach should be tucked in.
  • Your neck should be straight. The ideal position has your earlobes in line with your shoulders. You should not be stooped nor have your chin protruding.

What Is The Right Height For Your Sit Stand Desk?

right height with sit stand desk

Of course, there is no one answer to this question. The correct height for your sit-stand desk is going to depend on how tall you are, and to a lesser extent the shoes you wear, if any. To find the best position for your desk, stand in front of your desk, being mindful of your posture, with back and neck straight and shoulders back. Slowly raise it until you can rest your forearms flat on the desktop, with your elbows bent at 90 degrees.

As with the seated position, but perhaps even more important when standing, you should have your wrists flat with your fingers either on or hanging down onto the keys. If your wrist is inclined or declined you are in the wrong position, so you should adjust the height of your desk. You should be able to comfortably use your keyboard and mouse without stretching.

It’s important to get this right, as working with your wrists bent compresses the joint. This is what, over time, can develop into what is known as carpal tunnel syndrome, a chronic complaint which causes pain and renders many incapable of working.

Position Your Screen

As with your seated posture, your eye level should be a few inches below the top of your screen, so you can maintain a natural neck position. You might find that the position needs altering slightly between sitting and standing, but you shouldn’t need to make major adjustments. If you do, you may have your desk at the wrong level.

Tips To Avoid Body Pain While Standing

Shift Your Weight and Change Position Frequently

Shifting your weight from heel to toe and foot to foot can help with both pain in your feet, and relieve strain on other muscle groups. Try varying your standing position slightly from time to time. Anything that helps share the strain across different muscle groups will reduce aches and pains.

Wear Comfortable Shoes

Choosing a pair of shoes that properly support your feet and are padded can make all the difference. This will also help you to maintain your posture and should reduce any aches and pains you experience when standing for long periods.

Use An Anti Fatigue Mat

An anti-fatigue mat is designed to help cushion your feet and promote blood flow, which helps your sore feet and legs, and helps fight tiredness. An anti fatigue mat also helps with movement, keeping you active by encouraging slight changes of position.

Try a leaning stool

If you’re standing for long periods throughout the day, a sit stand active stool can help you take the strain off periodically. Leaning or wobble stools are good for strengthening the core, which could help improve your posture.

Don’t stand all day

It is important that you try and achieve a good mix of sitting and standing during the day. Standing all day can have drawbacks just as sitting can, so finding the right balance for you is the key. Changing position throughout the day relieves strain, alleviates back pain and promotes blood flow. Sitting in an ergonomic chair can also help avoid back pain.

How Long Should You Stand At A Standing Desk?

sit stand desk

Using a standing desk is most beneficial when you alternate between sitting and standing. To get the full benefits of your standing desk, you need to figure out your ideal standing time. There is quite a lot of debate about in which ratio the stand desk benefits us most, and the truth is it’s probably slightly different for everyone.

Standing for prolonged periods is known to increase discomfort, so if you’ve ever wondered if you really should use a standing desk all day, the answer is probably no. The same is true of sitting, and most experts agree that switching position frequently is most beneficial. The exact ratio or timings though are a matter of debate. The conventional approach is to allocate 30 mins of each hour as standing time. With some studies suggesting a much higher ratio of sitting to standing of 1:3, it’s not 100% clear.

As a general rule though, if you switch between sitting and standing at least once every hour, as you feel most comfortable, you should achieve a good balance. You’ll also benefit from the transition, which is vital to keep you active and your system firing. Check out Desky’s range of sit stand desks today and improve your health!

References:

https://acatoday.org/content/posture-power-how-to-correct-your-body-alignment

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/09/12/health/standing-desks-tips-myths-facts-wellness/index.html

https://ergonofis.com/blogs/news/how-to-use-my-sitstand-desk-correctly

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321084

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/09/12/health/standing-desks-tips-myths-facts-wellness/index.html

https://uwaterloo.ca/kinesiology/how-long-should-you-stand-rather-sit-your-work-station

source https://desky.com.au/blogs/news/how-to-use-a-standing-desk-correctly