Smart Workstations for a Productive and Injury-Free Year

How many hours per day are you seated at a desk, most likely staring at a computer monitor? There is probably a good chance that you’re coming close to double digits, if not exceeding them on occasion.

Orthopedic health ties into your work life more than you might think, and we want to make sure you have an ortho-friendly workspace for an injury-free new year.

Did you know that the average computer user performs 50,000-200,000 keystrokes each day? Assuming you engage in that type of computer activity at least five days a week…that number becomes a bit more overwhelming. Extended usage involving improper postures and overexertion over long periods of time may lead to injury or eventual damage of nerves, muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Smart Station Setup

Setting up a smart workstation means setting up a workstation that fits your body size. If you’re finding yourself uncomfortable or experiencing back pain and shoulder fatigue, it could very well mean you’re mismatched. A properly set up station allows you to work without slouching, straining, twisting or putting yourself in otherwise unnatural positions.

“Many of these types of overuse injuries can be prevented by having a properly fitting workstation and adopting healthy computer-use techniques,” says Dr. Fred Bagares, one of Rebound’s board certified specialists in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Here are some ergonomic basics to consider:

  • Chair height and support- we suggest finding a chair that fits your body and specific needs. You should be able to comfortably rest your feet on the floor, while sitting back, if your chair is adjusted to the proper height. Be sure to select a chair with adequate lumbar support.
  • Desk height/work surface- your work surface should be at a height that does not cause strain for other areas of your body (elbows, wrists, shoulders, etc.). Typically, a desk should be around 19 inches deep, 30 inches wide and up to 34 inches high (height should accommodate your legs, knees and thighs).
  • Keyboard placement- center your keyboard in front of your body, allowing your wrists to remain nearly straight. Finding a mouse that fits you and minimizes stress or awkward positions is also important.
  • Distance from the monitor- a common suggestion is around 20-26 inches, or one arm’s length, from the monitor to help prevent eye strain, shoulder fatigue, neck pain and other ailments. You should be able to view your monitor at eye level (without having to look up and cause neck strain).

Posture and Technique Awareness

Sure, at the beginning of the day you might start out with pristine posture, ready to face the day. However, it is easy to develop poor posture habits or find yourself in a position that could cause musculoskeletal injury.

Tips to Reduce Injury Development:

  • Keep your hands straight with your forearms to avoid wrist complications.
  • Let your upper arms hang comfortably near your body to avoid shoulder fatigue.
  • Your ears should be in line with the tops of your shoulders and your shoulders should align with your hips to take proper care of your spine.
  • Relax! Don’t tense up while you type and point- keep your fingers relaxed and don’t use excessive force.

Break for Bone and Joint Health

Take a break and stretch!

“Our bodies are not meant to sit still in a nearly locked position for hours on end. Taking a break from your desk position is important, and we encourage simple stretches throughout the day,” says Dr. Bagares.

Even something as simple as standing up and changing how you are seated can make a big difference for your joints and muscles. Try some of these helpful drills from American Bone Health.

For more tips on a maintaining a smart and orthopedic-friendly workstation, check out these resources or visit with one of our physicians. If you are currently experiencing pain that may be caused from computer-related usage, please give us a call at 1-800-REBOUND.

How to Sit at a Computer

Office Ergonomics: Your How-To Guide

Simple Sitting Adjustments for Less Back Pain

Stretches and Exercises for Computer Users