What is Ergonomics?
When we talk about ergonomics at Symmetrix, we are talking about ergonomic principles being applied to a work environment, specifically, the relationship people have with their working environment.
Why You Need an Ergonomic Desk Setup
If you sit at a desk for 6 to 8 hours, 5 days a week, you may already be experiencing neck and back pain, along with sore wrists and fingers.
When it comes to office ergonomics, there are things you can do to make your workstation better for your body and your health.
Whether you are working at home and need to create an ergonomic at-home office or you are a business owner who wants to create ergonomic workstations for your employees, here are 5 things you should include in an ergonomic desk setup.
What You Will Need for An Ergonomic Workstation
1. A comfortable chair
Choosing the right chair is the first step, as that is where you will be spending most of your time on a typical working day. There are many options for ergonomic chairs on the market today, but here are a few factors you should consider when making your ergonomic workstation:
- Height: The height of your chair should be so that you are able to sit comfortably with your feet on the floor and your thighs parallel to the floor. If you are unable to reach the floor with your feet, you can use a footrest.
- Backrest: We suggest having the backrest at 90 degrees as this enables a work-friendly position. However, it is helpful if your chair can recline to 135 degrees to offer a comfortable resting/stretching position.
The recommendation of 135 degrees came out of a study by BBC News in 2006 in Scotland. They found that 135 degrees helped prevent spinal disc slide and compression (Chandler, 2019). This is why we recommend a chair that has an adjustable backrest, so you can take breaks from sitting at 90 degrees.
However, a single angle will not work for every individual and this is why we offer personalized ergonomic assessments to help people find their perfect ergonomic desk setup.
Beyond recline ability, your chair should have a natural curve in the backrest to provide lumbar support. If your chair doesn’t have sufficient lumbar support, you use an ergonomic pillow, or simply roll a towel and sit with it wedged against your lower back.
- Armrests: Ensure that your chair has adjustable armrests, this will make customizing your ergonomic desk setup much easier. You can also see if the armrests can be turned inwards to support your arms while you type.
- Material: Look for a chair with breathable material and soft fabric, with enough cushioning.
2. An adjustable desk
Desk height is an important factor for your ergonomic workstation. A desk that is too high will strain your arms, while a desk that is too low will cause you to hunch your back and put pressure at the top of your spine where it connects to the base of your skull.
You can look into sit-stand desks to improve office ergonomics. Extensive research was conducted on previous studies on workplace ergonomics to understand the effect of sit-stand desks on worker behaviour and health outcomes.
They found that sit-stand desks did not reduce work performance and were able to reduce discomfort (Chambers, Robertson & Baker, 2019, p. 48).
3. Ergonomic keyboard
When using your keyboard your hands should be shoulder-width apart, not angled towards each other and close together. This will help reduce the strain on your shoulders.
Unfortunately, the majority of keyboards are not designed in this way, and instead force your hands to be close together, leading your shoulders to hunch over.
You can purchase a split keyboard, an ergonomically designed keyboard that keeps your hands at shoulder-width, as well as positioning your mouse close to your keyboard will also reduce other repetitive motions.
4. A proper-fitting mouse
Working at a desk means that you are making similar motions over and over again. Using an ill-fitting mouse or trackpad can cause negative effects on your wrist and fingers. Similar to the way that typing for long durations can affect the muscles in your fingers.
Consider your hand size when purchasing a mouse, the type of grip it offers, and the position it places your hand and wrist in.
5. A monitor at the right height
Monitors can contribute to the pain and fatigue you feel at your workstation. A poorly placed monitor can completely throw off your ergonomic desk setup.
You will need to adjust your monitor’s height, angle, lighting, and the distance it is positioned from you. It’s suggested that the top of your screen be at eye level so that you are not straining your eyes up but they are in a more neutral and relaxed position.
A kinesiologist from Symmetrix can help you with your monitor setup through one of our virtual ergonomic assessments.
We try not to recommend using laptops because it can be impossible to make them ergonomic compared to computers and monitors, however, you can find ergonomic accessories such as a laptop stand or even use a stack of books to make the laptop height adjustable and buy an external keyboard and mouse.
Creating your ergonomic desk setup can take time as you get used to sitting in a different position. But if you want to start off on the right foot, book a virtual ergonomic assessment with Symmetrix today.
We help people create ergonomic desks setups in order to improve their physical health and wellness in their office.
Our team at Symmetrix offers free consultations for ergonomic assessments. Our assessments are designed to analyze your workstation and offer you solutions to your pain.
These ergonomic assessments are provided by a certified kinesiologist, an individual who has studied human movement and has a deeper understanding of anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and psychomotor behaviour.
Kinesiologists aim to improve and optimize the body’s performance and are different than a physiotherapist. You can learn more about the difference between kinesiologists and physiotherapists here.
Chambers, A. J., Robertson, M. M., & Baker, N. A. (2019). The effect of sit-stand desks on
office worker behavioral and health outcomes: A scoping review. Applied Ergonomics, 78, 37–53. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apergo.2019.01.015
Chandler, M. (2019, June 19). Is Reclining The Best Sitting Posture? Our Surprise
Findings. Retrieved from https://ergonomicshealth.com/reclining-seating/