Sitting at a desk for an entire day, every day of the week, often results in severe back pain. When you’re slouched over paperwork and continually looking down at a laptop screen, or squinting forward towards a monitor, your back goes out of alignment and the natural curvature of the spine is compromised. This is not a natural state for neck, shoulder and back muscles and the overcompensation leads to muscle strain.
Usually this unnatural posture at a desk is because you have a “one-size-fits-all” office chair. You can read about the importance of ergonomic office chairs in this article.
However, the positioning of your monitor or laptop is just as important.
This is what you need to keep in mind:
- Place any documents as close to the monitor as possible at a similar angle. Using a document holder to keep the papers at eye level is ideal.
- The monitor needs to be in front of you and facing you. Avoid placing it an angle. Twisting your neck too much is a main cause of back strain. This is also true for dual screens. Place them in a straight line. Rather move your eyes from side to side than your entire neck.
- Scroll the image or information on your screen so that what you are viewing is in the centre.
- Make sure the monitor is at a comfortable height. Don’t tilt your head up or down to view the screen properly. This is particularly a problem with laptops. You should place this on a raised surface and use an additional wireless keyboard.
- The distance between your eyes and the screen is also important. This is usually about an arm’s length. If you sit back in your chair and stretch your arm out straight, your fingers should touch the screen. If the text is too small, use a larger font or zoom function, rather than moving the screen closer.
- Keep your wrists flat on the desk when you’re typing.
- Avoid “chicken-wing” arms. Keep your upper arms and elbows close to your body at roughly a 90-degree angle.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor and try not to cross your legs.
- Avoid glare from bright reflections. This may mean repositioning your screen at different times of day, depending on how the sun angle is through different windows.
By positioning the monitor correctly and making these slight posture adjustments, your neck and shoulder strain will be lessened. It can also make a massive difference to eye strain and headaches.