Work Set-up – How To Position Your Electronic Device
Optimise your work set-up to minimise injury risk!
Lucy Ogden – Physiotherapist
Computers, laptops, tablets and electronic devices are now almost an unavoidable part of our working lives. Few professions are able to escape at least some device usage, with many professions almost trapping us at our desks for hours on end.
Being restricted to any one position for long periods of time predisposes our bodies to poor positioning and may lead to overuse injuries. Yes, even desk warriors can get overuse injuries from muscles holding a posture or joints pushed into awkward positions without rest for too long – it’s not just the ultra-endurance athletes!
Upper back pain, neck and shoulder stiffness, headaches, wrist and elbow pain, and low back pain are just some of the issues that may arise from poor work set-ups and positions at a desk.
While we, at Ferry Rd Physio, understand that you can’t always revolutionise your work set-up, here are a few general tips on how to set yourself up with your chosen work electronic device to minimise injury risks.
1. Choose a desktop over a laptop if available! – While the transportability and convenience of a laptop has many advantages, if you’re going to be stuck at that screen for hours, a desktop computer has many more adjustable parts to help your positioning.
2. Screen height – ideally the top of your screen should sit level with your eyebrows when sitting comfortably in your chair. If you are on a laptop, often even raising it slightly by putting a phone book or thick text book can help
3. Forearms resting on desk – make sure your keyboard is set far enough back on the desk that your forearms can be comfortable supported on the desk. If you are constantly have to hover and hold your arms above the desk and keyboard, your shoulder and neck muscles can fatigue quickly
4. Chair comfort – while there is no perfect chair or chair set up (despite what many advertisers would have you believe!), it is essential you have a chair with decent lumbar (low back) support which you actually find comfortable to sit in and fits underneath the desk even with armrests. If it’s not comfortable from the start, it’s even less likely that, as the day drags on, you won’t find yourself even more slumped and awkwardly positioned!
5. Keyboard Sizes – again this highlights the desktop/laptop/tablet divide. Generally, laptops and tablets have a smaller keyboard set up with smaller keys and reduced spaces between. Particularly for those people with broader shoulders, this can force some very cramped and awkward wrist and elbow positions and often hunch the shoulders. If you’re planning on a large amount of typing and are based off a tablet or laptop, having a separate larger keyboard (usually bluetooth connected) can be a worthy investment and can allow you to more easily position your screen as well.
This is by no means an exhaustive list and may need to be altered further to fit your specific situation. Please feel free to contact one of our physiotherapists for additional advice and/or if you are currently experiencing any pain or tightness from using your electronic device or current work set-up!