Carolyn Salazar, OT

7 Ways to Make Sure Your Office Isn’t Working Against Your Spine

 

Properly positioning your body and using good body mechanics when you’re at your office workstation are important to keep your spine and body healthy, especially if you are returning from an injury or surgery. Here are some simple tips for using good office ergonomics to keep your body healthy.

What is the ideal ergonomics set-up for your workstation?

  • • Shoulders completely relaxed at your side
  • • Elbows at approximately a 90-120 degree angle
  • • Wrists straight
  • • Head level or in-line with the your torso/trunk
  • • Feet flat on floor
  • • Hips slightly higher than knees

Start with your chair. All chairs are different and have a variety of features. Get to know your chair and how to adjust it.

  • 1. Sit all the way back in the chair so your buttocks touch the backrest. The lower curve of your spine should match the curve of the backrest so your spine feels fully supported. If it doesn’t, adjust the backrest height.
  • 2. Adjust the armrests so they are just below your forearms. Ideally, your forearms should be barely resting on the armrests. If the armrests are too high, your forearms will be pushed upward subsequently causing your shoulders to rise. This can cause pain in your shoulders and neck.
  • 3. Position yourself as close to your work as possible to prevent reaching, which can also contribute to shoulder and neck pain. If your armrests interfere with your ability to position yourself close to your work, remove them if possible.

Your keyboard, mouse, phone and monitor can also impact your spine.

  • 4. Ensure that your keyboard and mouse are close to you, immediately next to each other and at the same height. This will prevent reaching.
  • 5. If you use your phone frequently, position it close to you so you don’t have to twist and/or reach to access it. If possible, use a headset.
  • 6. When viewing your monitor or documents, the goal is to maintain a neutral or straight neck position. To ensure this positioning, your monitor should be directly in front of you and at least 20 inches away.  The top of the monitor should be at, or just below, eye level. If you use bifocals, the monitor should be slightly lower.  To prevent excessive neck rotation when viewing documents, keep them close to the monitor. A better option is to place the documents directly in-between the keyboard and monitor on a document holder.

Changing positions throughout the day will help keep your spine healthy.

  • 7. Sitting for a prolonged period and working in the same position is not healthy for your body or spine. Make sure you are changing your position frequently throughout the day by making small adjustments to your chair positioning, stretching and getting up to walk around.

 

Reference: www.osha.gov

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