How to Set Up Your Desk for Good Posture: Ergonomics Basics

What is Ergonomics?

Today’s blog is all about how to set up your office and have it be ergonomically correct. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of ergonomics is, “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.” Notice the last word, safely. If you’re going to be spending eight or so hours a day at your desk, you definitely want it to be safe! You don’t want those hours you spend working causing harm to your body. Here are some ideas of basic ergonomics for your workplace or home office.

Chair

When choosing a chair, you want options. You want it to be comfortable, but supportive. The traits we look for when selecting a chair are: adjustable overall height, adjustable armrests, adjustable lumbar support, and seat-tilt. All of these options will allow you to find the best fit for you.

Desk

When choosing a desk, you need to make sure your chair will fit with your desk. You will have to decide where your forearms will rest; will they be on the desk or on the armrests? Typically we recommend raising the armrests on your chair to an appropriate height, so your arms can rest on the armrests. You want your arms to be more in line with your body so that your shoulders are not forward and you’re not leaning forward. If your desk is large enough that you can push your keyboard back and rest your forearms on the desk, you will want to be sure your chair fits under your desk, so you can scoot your chair all the way in.

Notice in the image below, the model’s feet are flat on the floor, allowing her hips to be flexed to 90 degrees. Her elbows are in line below her shoulders so she is not leaning forward.

Ergonomic Desk Set Up for Workplace or Home Office

Ergonomic Desk Set Up for Workplace or Home Office

An adjustable height, standing desk (pictured below) is a nice option. Not only does the height adjust for sitting, this desk gives users the option to stand. Notice in the image below, the model still has her elbows in line with her shoulders.

Sit to Stand Desk, Adjustable Height Desk

Standing Desk for Ergonomic Set Up

Computer Monitor Height

Stick your arm out in front of you, keeping it at shoulder height. That’s where the top of your computer screen should be. This way you don’t have to move your neck up or down to look at the screen. This becomes an even bigger issue when you’re provided a laptop for work.

What if I have to use a laptop for work?

If you have a laptop we recommend getting a wireless mouse and keyboard so you can raise your laptop. In the pictures of my desk below, you can see how the laptop is placed on a set of drawers and I have a ergonomic mouse and keyboard to use. Technically, the drawers I am using are a little high for the arm-straight-out-test, but I am using it as a reminder to sit up straight.

 

Ergonomic Keyboard & Mouse for Laptop Set Up

Ergonomic Keyboard & Mouse for Laptop Set Up

Ergonomics Basics: Laptop Setup

Ergonomic Laptop Set Up

Feet

So now that you’ve adjusted your chair and desk height to suit you, if you’re short (like me) you’ll notice your feet may be dangling or maybe just your toes reach the ground. You may need a stool or footrest. This will protect your lower back by keeping your hips bent at an appropriate angle. 

Ergonomics Basics: Seated At Desk With Laptop And Footrest

Ergonomic Footrest

Mouse and Keyboard? Stay tuned! We’re going to go over our favorites in upcoming months. Check out the post on our favorite ergonomic mice, here.

Considering an ergonomic evaluation? Want to come “play” with our ergonomic equipment? Contact LBHT today to learn more about our ergonomics program.

Julie Williford MOT, OTR/L, CPAM