Setting Up Your Work Station

As we continue to navigate a pandemic, our work setups have continued to change. Whether you’re working at home or in an office setting, what

worked for the first two or three weeks, we are finding is not a suitable long-term solution. Those 8 hours at the computer are feeling longer and longer as our backs ache more and the once ignorable headaches are becoming stronger and stronger.

Some people are finding they like the convenience of working from home or are still required to, but their desk set up has literally become a pain in the neck. What can be done?

A lot actually. And fairly easily.

With a little direction in how to set up a desk properly, you can relieve a lot of the bad stress placed on your body and naturally get rid of the pain. A few simple adjustments can make a world of difference on your body.

Your seat matters: Adjust your seat height so that your feet reach the ground, but your hips sit just higher than your knees. Make sure to sit all the way back in your chair, so that you rest against the back of the chair with a straight back. This will set your low back up for better sitting.

Be able to reach the keys: With your elbows at your side, aim to have your keyboard positioned to meet where your fingers sit. To do this, first make sure your chair is moved close enough to the computer. Then also check to make sure the keys aren’t positioned too far back. … this is true for you mouse position too! Any tool you commonly use throughout the day. Uncorrected, this will cause upper back, neck and/or shoulder strain.

Monitor Height: This is one of the biggies, and should be done last after your seat is corrected. Sitting upright, when you look ahead, you want your gaze to land in the middle of your computer screen. There are many options you can use to get your monitor to the correct height. Monitor stands are relatively inexpensive. Or if you’re going the budget route, reams of paper work quite well!

Paper stand: If you are someone who needs to look at files while you work, consider getting a file folder placed next to you so that you can keep your neck straight and upright, while also making room for your keyboard sit close to you. This will matter more than you might think.

Laptops: Convenient, but not ergonomic. Laptops are great as they are less expensive, light, easy to take with you. But that convenience comes at a cost. Laptops are not designed for the health of your back and neck. If possible, I recommend purchasing a wireless keyboard. This will allow you to comfortably reach your keys, while also allowing you to lift your monitor to eye height. Organize your set up the same as if you were working on a desktop. Tilting your screen back can also be helpful if you have to work on your laptop without an additional set of keys.

Virtual Learning: It’s especially important to get your kids home set up done correctly with any virtually learning that’s needed. Kids skeletons are still forming, so putting them in a position for optimal alignment becomes important not just for how they feel today, but also for who they’re bodies are going to grow into. You might have to get creative with how to set up your child on this miniature desk version, but the effort you put in on the front end will save you (and them) later!

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Tiffany DeLange, DPT