Ergonomic Tips When Using Screens

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.

Jackson County Physical Therapy is the Official PT Provider for: