Do you have a comfortable, supportive work space, or are you one of the multitudes of Americans that stays hunched over the computer at the desk for hours at a time and “pop” the over-the-counter meds for the stiff neck and back or painfully sore wrists and fingers? Have you stopped and considered that a comfortable work space is going to help you be more efficient with your time and help you feel better while you work? If you’re not in front of it, I want you to think about your workspace and consider how it differs from these basic ideal settings:
1. Correct chair height—this seems silly, but it can make such a difference. Adjust your chair so that your knees are about level with your hips.
2. Monitor height—this one can be tricky, but get it right, and it will help tremendously, from reducing damage to the intervertebral discs in your neck, preventing a reversal of your normal neck curvature (as seen on x-ray) to even helping to prevent headaches caused by neck strain. The ideal location for your monitor is for it to be mounted or elevated so that the middle of your screen is directly at eyes-level, straight ahead, while your head is in a neutral position (your head is not flexed forward or backward), or even slightly upward from the eyes-level position. This will enable you to maintain a head neutral, or slightly extended head, which is great for maintaining a proper neck curve!
3. Monitor and keyboard location—this is key. I do not like workstations that have a “keyboard tray,” because of the angle that the wrists have to be placed in to type on the keyboard. In that scenario, it’s not a matter of whether you get carpal tunnel syndrome, it’s when…I recommend placing the keyboard on top of the desk, approximately an arm’s length away from the edge closest to you so that you can rest your entire forearm on the table, supporting the elbows. If the elbows are not supported, then the weight of the upper arms tractions the delicate nerve roots in the neck, and soon, you’ll begin to feel numbness and tingling in your upper extremities that extends down into your hands. This is a common condition for those of you who use keyboard trays. If you already have this numbness and tingling sensation, I recommend that you see your local chiropractor about it today for a full evaluation!
4. Feet on a footrest—this can help with your lower back. Believe it or not, having a small (about a 3” to 4” box) or footrest under your feet while you are sitting there working will reduce the stress being placed on your back, essentially slowing low back fatigue and reducing pain.
In making these few changes, you’ll see a big difference in how you feel while you’re at work.
Dr. Rodney Crews, Chiropractor | Crews Chiropractic Pain Relief & Wellness Clinic