Healthy Habits for 2016: 8 Resolutions for Your Workspace from a PT

Happy 2016! With the new year comes resolutions and most often they include lifestyle changes, from eating healthier or spending less time in front of the television to picking up a new hobby or participating in more volunteering opportunities.

What most people might not think about is creating a healthier and more ergonomically friendly working space. Those of you who work full time will spend 30% of each year at work, so why not resolve to make it the best space for both your mind and body! Below are 8 tips to help you prevent fatigue and/or unnecessary pain:

  1. Posture. Make sure to maintain good posture when working at your computer. Utilize a lumbar roll (or towel/small pillow) for low back support. Always keep your feet supported to avoid extra pressure on your low back.
  2. Keep frequently used items within arm’s reach. Avoid having to reach overhead or twisting to reach items such as the keyboard, telephone, or mouse.
  3. Elbows should be bent from 100-110° when working at the keyboard. This may require a negative tilt of the keyboard (front is higher than the back.) Your elbows should rest comfortably at your side at all times and should be level with the top of your keyboard.
  4. Wrists should be in a neutral position. This can be done with a negatively tilted keyboard or by utilizing wrist rests during breaks. Keeping your wrists straight when using the keyboard or mouse will help to decrease and/or eliminate pain.
  5. The top of your computer monitor should be even with your eye level. This allows you to look at the screen with a slightly downward gaze. This also allows you to view the screen with your neck in a neutral or straight position. The computer monitor should always be directly in front of you as well to avoid any unnecessary rotating or twisting at your neck.
  6. Position your computer monitor at least an arm’s length away (about 20 cm.) The larger the screen, the further from you it will need to be to avoid eye strain.
  7. Stand more! An ideal workstation should allow for you to stand while utilizing your computer.
  8. Break up your work day. Incorporate activities that require you to get up from your desk for at least five minutes every hour.

In addition to the tips above, it is very important to be aware and listen to your body: its your best resource! If you are experiencing pain, stop and assess your body’s current positioning. If your shoulders are rounded and your head to protruding forward, it is safe to say you are not using good posture. With all of the positive promises you are making to yourself in this new year, don’t forget to promise to use good posture and proper ergonomics in the workplace.

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