Dealing with chronic or persistent pain can make it nearly impossible to be productive. What’s more, desk work can often make pain worse, particularly if your equipment isn’t set up correctly for your needs.
If you’re trying to get more done at your desk while dealing with pain, here are 5 tips that should make your life easier. All of these revolve around setting your desk up to work for you.
1. Correct monitor height
It’s very common for people to have their computer monitor too low - simply sat on the desk. But this means craning your neck or bending your back to see the screen. Rather than adjusting your chair, it’s important to instead adjust your monitor height.
Your screen should sit with the top at - or just below - eye level. You should be looking down when viewing the middle of the screen. Within this point is another helpful tip: if possible, only move your eyes when reading on the screen. You shouldn’t need to constantly move your head to take information in.
2. Get close enough to your desk
This one is so simple but so powerful. Being close to the desk puts much less stress on your body, particularly your back and shoulders. You should be close enough that when you put a hand on your stomach it touches the desk. The monitor should then be roughly an arm’s length away.
3. Sit at the correct height
Your ideal height should be based both on you and the desk. When your arms are relaxed and in a 90-degree position, they should rest just on or above the desk. If using arm rests, they should support you just below the forearms.
Your chair height shouldn’t be based on your feet. But if you set it and they’re dangling above the ground, get a foot rest. Your feet need to be firmly placed on the floor with your knees ideally at a 90-degree angle. Sitting in another position leads to significant back, shoulder, and backside pain and numbness.
4. Position your equipment correctly
Much like point 2, you need to set your equipment up properly. Your keyboard and mouse should only be a few centimetres from the desk edge so that your back is straight when using them. The same is true for your phone. If you find yourself pushing your keyboard away, force yourself to stop. You end up leaning forwards and hanging on your back, which quickly becomes painful.
5. Use a back rest
People often perch at their desks, but this isn’t a good habit. Sitting in this position for too long can hurt your back, shoulders and elbows. This often happens because people’s chairs are poorly designed, but remember to use the backrest. If you find yourself sitting too far back, buy a back support online.
Positioning yourself correctly can help to manage the effects of pain while sitting at a desk. Importantly, you should use these tips to build a setup that works best for your specific needs.