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12 Top Tips to stay pain free at your work station

1. Adjust monitor so that the centre sits at eye level. The monitor should always be directly in front of your face (preferably no more than 35 degrees to either side) and at or slightly below eye level. However, if you wear bifocals and usually tilt your head back in order to look down through them at the monitor, lower the monitor (or raise your chair) so that the monitor sits 15 to 20 degrees below eye level; note that this may require you to tilt the screen slightly upwards toward your face.

2. Keep your monitor between 20 and 40 inches (50 and 100 centimetres) from your face. This will reduce eye strain. If the depth of your desk doesn’t allow this, consider moving your monitor to a corner desk with more depth.

3. Place your keyboard so that both humerus bones (upper arms) hang vertically. Don’t extend your arms far forwards or bend your elbows back to type.

4. Arrange items within sight and reach. Place your phone, writing equipment, books and other frequently-used items within easy reach from where you sit. You should not need to stretch to reach frequently used objects.

5. Keep your keyboard at an acceptable height. To reach the keyboard, your forearms should bend no more than 20 degrees above horizontal (if sitting) or 45 below (if standing)

6. Place mouse near keyboard. Keep it in a position that will enable you to transition between typing and using the mouse with as little effect on your arm and wrist posture as possible. You can also alternate left and right-sided mouse usage to dilute the effects of repetitive use.

7. Keep your wrist posture neutral. Avoid bending your wrist sharply upwards or downwards to type.

8. Stay symmetrical as much as possible. Do not place most used objects to one side of your monitor (unless you also use a second one on the other side); turning your head in one direction for prolonged periods fatigues the neck muscles. Instead, position commonly used objects directly beneath the monitor, angling it between the monitor and keyboard.

9. Adjust chair height so that your feet are flat on the floor. Your knees and torso should be at roughly the same height. Your forearms should be parallel to the ground and your wrists in a neutral position.

10. Change your posture regularly. Regardless of how healthy your work posture is, sitting in any one position for an extended period is not healthy. If you have an adjustable chair, alternate between the following positions:
Sit upright. Keep your torso roughly vertical, your thighs horizontal, and your lower legs vertical.
Sit reclined. Tilt the backrest of your chair back so that your torso reclines between 105 and 120 degrees from your thighs.
Sit declined. Tilt the seat of your chair slightly so that the angle between your thighs and torso is slightly more than 90 degrees. Don’t overdo this or you will feel like you’re sliding.

11. Alternatively, stand. If your desk is adjustable (or you can get another work station), stand. You can keep a footrest nearby and take turns resting your legs on it. Note that staying on your feet all day, while healthy, can make them sore; this position might be best for a job that doesn’t require long periods at the desk (or can accommodate a small, secondary standing workspace).

12. Take regular breaks. It is a good idea to stop typing and stretch or walk about every 30 minutes. If you forget, set an alarm on your computer, watch, phone or other instrument to remind you.

Do not wait until you begin to have problems before making these ergonomic adjustments. It can be much more difficult to recover from an injury than to prevent it, so your best bet would be to make these changes as soon as possible!

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