Does your office setup meet these requirements?

Does your office setup meet these requirements?

Sitting at a desk for even part of the day can be risky. Common office injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome (nerve compression at the wrist) and myofasical pain syndrome of the shoulder and back often caused by incorrect ergonomics. Muscle strains in the neck, back and shoulders can happen when we’re hunched over the a keyboard. It’s not just muscles, either. Staring at a computer screen for too long can cause headaches and swollen, irritated eyes. If any of these symptoms sound familiar, there are thankfully some easy ways to avoid workplace health issues.




Some research suggests an ergonomic setup can alleviate symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders.

If muscle pain or vision problems are causing serious issues, it might be time to see a doctor. The steps below won’t reverse damage but can make for a spiffy, safer, Greatist-approved workspace.

  • Chair: There’s no need for a bejeweled royal throne, but the seat cushion should be comfortable and the chair should have armrests that allow elbows to rest at a 90-degree angle while typing. And one size does not fit all butts, so make sure it’s possible to adjust the height of the seat so arms are at the height of the desk, thighs are parallel to the floor, and feet rest flat on the floor. The backrest should be at a 90-degree angle to the desk (or farther forward depending on personal preference). Swiveling capabilities are also a plus so we don’t need to stretch and strain to reach the stapler in the corner of the desk. Or mix things up and try a sit-stand workstation, which some employees say reduces back and neck pain and helps keep them focused during the workday.
  • Desk: The desk space should be large enough to accommodate all the essentials — monitor, keyboard, mouse, notebook, water bottle, etc. For those who use a mouse instead of a track-pad, position the mouse and keyboard close together. When you look down, the “B” key should be right under your nose. And no fancy dance moves at the desk, either: Wrists should be in a neutral position, not extended up or down. It can also help to use a wrist rest, or a simple cushion that can help prevent contact stress from pressing wrists into the table edge.
  • Monitor: The computer screen should sit about an arm’s length away from you, and should face directly toward you (not angled to the right or left). To minimize glare, don’t wear shades, but align eyes with the top of the screen’s viewing area. Follow the rule: For every 20 minutes spent staring at Pinterest (er, a Word Doc), take 20 seconds to look away from the computer at something at least 20 feet in the distance. Or, alternatively, try taking a gym break or lunch hour away from the computer to give eyes (and mind) some reprieve.
  • Mouse: Consider using a trackball or a touchpad to minimize the repetitive motions of moving a mouse. For standard mouse fans, select a mouse that fits the shape of your hand but is still as flat as possible. Some people prefer to forgo a mouse pad, which can place the mouse at a higher angle and cause wrist strain. And this isn’t a Frisbee game: Move the mouse from the elbow and not the wrist.


author avatar
Dr. Luciano Di Loreto