Save yourself from an aching back with an ergonomically correct setup

How many times during your workday do you find yourself hunched over, slouched down or just plain crumpled up? Do you get up from your desk to get water, or take a bio break, and find your joints creaking and aching? Just how long have you been sitting? Your hands, wrists, eyes and head, too, all can take a beating from poor position. Being mindful of how you sit at your desk — and how you should adjust your equipment to accommodate your needs — is the first step toward feeling more comfortable.

Make the most of sitting

  1. Adjust your monitor to reduce glare, and keep the contrast high and brightness low.
  2. The top of your monitor should be slightly below eye level.
  3. Your monitor and keyboard should be square or parallel to each other.
  4. The angle of your keyboard should be flat or slightly downhill, at elbow height.
  5. Use a light touch on your keyboard to avoid shocking your wrists.
  6. Your mouse should be elbow height, and next to your keyboard.
  7. Your thighs should be roughly parallel to the floor.
  8. Keep the backs of your knees slightly away from your chair.
  9. Rest your feet firmly on the floor or footrest.
  10. Sit up with your chair tilted back slightly. Your head should be upright and facing forward.
  11. All of your body angles should be at or around 90 degrees.
  12. Your back should be firmly supported, with your arms resting lightly on your armrests.
  13. Your shoulders should be relaxed (oh, just give it a try!).
Source: American Specialty Health

Give your body a break

Getting up often from your desk can make you more — not less — productive, and can help refresh your joints and muscles. Instead of continuing your death-grip on the mouse, or hammering on the keyboard, getting up and away from your desk can also help relieve tension. Here are some simple suggestions to keep your body stretched, in a good way:
  • Rest your tired eyes. If you sit in front of a computer all day, you should be giving your eyes a break every 15 minutes. Instead of looking at your screen, look at something far away for 10 to 15 seconds; then blink firmly several times. Roll your eyes in a big circle (get in touch with your inner-teen) and then cup your hands over your eyes for 10 to 15 seconds. There — all better?
  • Flex your fingers. When you start to feel tense or achy, hold your hands out in front and spread your fingers as far apart as they'll go, and hold that position for three seconds. Then make a tight fist, and hold that for three seconds. Relax and repeat, then wiggle and shake before resuming work.
  • Rest your wrists. Hold your hands out in front, make loose fists and then push your knuckles down toward the floor. Hold for three seconds, and relax. Repeat as desired.
  • Stretch your neck. Turn your head slowly to the right, and hold for three seconds. Slowly turn to the left and hold for another three seconds. Return slowly to the center.
  • Get back to basics. Tuck in your chin, relax your shoulders and then pull them back. Raise them toward your ears. Hold, and release.
  • Stand and deliver. Stand with your legs apart, your hands on your lower back. Tighten your abdominal muscles to support your back, then tuck your chin to your chest. Gently lean back several inches, then carefully return to an upright position.
Source: American Specialty Health