Health Advocate Blog

Create a healthy workspace

Do your neck, shoulders or elbows ache, or do your fingers tingle after long stints on the computer? If so, your workspace may need a makeover! Arranging your computer and other components properly, and adjusting how you perform your tasks, can help keep your posture straight and reduce strain on your muscles and tendons. Here are some guidelines:

Keep the top of your computer monitor slightly below eye level. Position it about an arm’s length away. If necessary, change the type font size. Helpful tip: If you wear glasses, try single vision computer glasses. These lenses are made especially for computer viewing distance.

Adjust your chair to keep your feet flat on the floor. Your knees should be level with your hips—with feet slightly forward–and your backbone straight with shoulders back. Helpful tip: Use a foot rest or lumbar support pillow (place the latter in the curve of your back).

Place your keyboard and mouse to keep your wrists straight. Wrists should be parallel to the floor without bending up, down or to the side. Helpful tip: Try a padded wrist rest.

Change working positions. Go from seated to standing, for example. Helpful tip: Check to see if a standing platform desk is an option—some models can be adjusted from sitting to standing height.

Incorporate movement at your desk. Move your legs and feet periodically while working at your desk. For example, circle your feet and point your toes. Helpful tip: An emerging trend in some offices is the use of treadmill desks. See if one might be available in your office.

Remember to take a break and stretch!

Movement can help relax tissues, lubricate joints, prevent stiffness, improve circulation, reduce fatigue and protect against long-term damage. Plus it will increase your comfort and productivity. Helpful tip: Put a reminder on your computer to get up and move periodically.

Do these stretches (in any sequence) during your computer sessions:

Neck Rotation: Slowly rotate your head as far as comfortable to the right, then the left.

Head Side to Side: Bend your neck to left, then to the right. Add a little resistance by pressing your hand against the side of your head.

Chin Tuck: Slide your chin inward, without bending your neck up or down. Hold and release.

Shoulder Circles. Move in forward circles, and then in backward circles.

Shrug: Slowly raise your shoulders toward your ears and hold for a few seconds. Gradually bring shoulders down and relax.

Shoulder Squeeze: Pull elbows back, squeezing shoulder blades together. Hold for a few seconds, then release.

Stretch Upwards: Sit up straight and gradually stretch your upper body to be as tall as possible; hold position for a few seconds.

Arm Relaxation: Drop your arms and hands to your sides. Gently shake them for a few seconds.

Wrist Flex: With your elbows placed on your desk, use your left hand to gently bend your right hand back toward your forearm. Hold for a few seconds, and then relax. Repeat with the other hand.

Foot Rotation: Circle each foot slowly from the ankle in one direction, then reverse.

Eye Rolls: Roll your eyes briefly clockwise, then counterclockwise.

For more information

For general information about staying healthy while performing computer work, click here.

For Health Advocate members

If you’re a Health Advocate member with our Advocacy services, contact us to speak with a Personal Health Advocate. The Personal Health Advocate can help you identify resources for help, including specialists like physical therapists, orthopedic physicians and more.

[Sources: Mayo Clinic; University of Michigan]