Are you finding working or playing on your computer/phone/tablet to be a pain in the neck – literally? Neck pain, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and many other conditions can result from a poor set-up.
Here are some tips that will help adjust your workstation or screen set-up to help prevent injury.
Workstation set-up tips:
- Place the monitor 18-22″ from your forehead, depending on your visual acuity. The top of the screen should be at eye level. If using a tablet or phone, hold the screen at eye level or rest it on a stand to avoid looking down repetitively.
- Avoid holding a laptop or tablet on your lap. This results in a posture of extreme neck flexion. If you do not have another option, place your tablet on a cushion or pillow to increase its height and take very frequent rest breaks.
- The keyboard height should be just below the height of your elbows. If using a laptop or tablet, consider getting a separate keyboard and mouse.
- Adjust the seat height so that your knees are slightly below your hips with your feet resting comfortably on the floor. Utilize a foot rest if your feet do not touch the floor.
Posture tips while using screens:
- Keep your head upright and chin level while keeping your shoulders relaxed. Sit as “tall” as possible. When working on a phone or tablet, set up the screen so you do not have to look down repetitively. Rest your arms on armrests if able to keep your arms supported.
- Your arms should rest comfortably at your sides with your elbows bent to an approximately 90-degree angle in relation to the keyboard.
- Your backrest should provide you with lumbar support in the small of your low back. If not, consider an investment in a chair with good lumbar support that fits your body.
- When making phone calls on a cell phone, consider investing in Bluetooth. Holding your phone to your ear isn’t comfortable and causes compression in your neck.
- Take a break every 20 minutes to avoid muscle fatigue. This can be a 30 second break to get a glass of water or a brief standing break.
If you continue to have neck or back pain while working at the computer, consult your physician or physical therapist.