The Norway office has transitioned to MaineHealth Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. Their phone number is 207.393.3157.

Avoid Injury: Create an Ergonomic Workstation

Now more than ever we have a workforce that is working remotely either part or full time. In the era of COVID-19, working from home makes sense for many positions. However, this also means that some people may be working at workstations that aren’t ergonomic which could lead to avoidable injuries. Below are some important workstation tips to consider:

For a sitting workstation:

  • Make sure to have a solid chair to sit on. This could be a traditional office chair with caster wheels or a dining room chair. Whichever chair you choose make sure you’re considering the following:
    • Your feet have firm contact on the floor, ensuring that your feet or legs aren’t dangling.
    • It’s recommended that you add a cushion to your seat. A memory foam seat cushion or even a pillow could work. Be sure, again, that the chair height with cushion allows your feet to have firm contact with the floor.
  • Pay close attention to your posture:
    • Again, sit with your feet flat (and firm) on the floor.
    • Relax those shoulders, so that you aren’t tense.
    • Your arms should be making an L, with a 90-degree bend at your elbow. Your forearm should be in a horizontal position with straight alignment from elbow to fingertips.
    • Be sure that you are not leaning forward. For every inch your head is displaced forward, it adds 10 pounds of pressure to your neck (or cervical section of your spine).
  • Keyboard and mouse position are important too:
    • Avoid a static posture, meaning staying in one place too long. Movement is key, remember the best posture is the next posture. Common injuries are found to occur because of repetitive stress from performing the same motion frequently over time. An example of this is hovering your hand over a mouse.
    • A neat trick to help with your mouse is to go to the mouse properties and look at pointer motion speeds. Increasing that to about ¾ of the speed allows you to move your cursor quicker with less motion.
  • Don’t forget your monitor:
    • Your monitor should be directly in front of you and behind the keyboard.
    • Keep your monitor about arm’s length away from you.
    • The top of your monitor should be at or slightly below eye level.

For a standing workstation:

  • The same steps for good posture pertain to this workstation as well. Relax those shoulders, so that you aren’t tense. Your arms should be making an L, with a 90-degree bend at your elbow. Your forearm should be in a horizontal position with straight alignment from elbow to fingertips.
  • Proper desk height is important. Have someone measure from the floor to the point of your elbow (while in the relaxed shoulder pose). Then take that measurement and deduct 1 inch (for the height of the keyboard). That final measurement is where the height of your workstation should be.
  • Stand in a position that doesn’t cause an extension of your arms.
  • The height of your monitor(s) is critical. When you’re standing, you’re looking down more. You will want to modify the height of your monitor so that you are looking straight at them. Be sure to position them so that your head does not have to look down.
  • Depending upon the amount of time you spend on the phone, you should consider a phone headset. If you use a phone infrequently throughout your day, this may not be necessary.

Getting your chair just right:

  • Get to know your chair’s features. Adjust your chair to what feels comfortable, but don’t move it so much that you’re extending yourself. If you have a traditional office chair with caster wheels, play with the levers and settings until you reach a comfortable position. If you are in a solid chair, remember the tips from above regarding a seat cushion.
  • Make sure that when you sit in the chair, you’re sitting all the way back with your back against the chair and feet making firm contact with the floor.

Avoid digital eye strain:

  • If your work keeps you staring at a screen all day, remember the 20-20-20 rule:
    • for every 20 minutes of fixed gaze at your screen
    • take your eyes and look at an object about 20 feet away from you
    • gaze at that object for 20 seconds.

Getting your lighting just right:

  • Avoid positioning your screen where there may be glare.
  • You also don’t want to be facing a window. Have curtains or blinds available to avoid glare.
  • Fluorescent lights can cause reflective light as well. We recommend a “half-light” for ambiance.

Setting up your workstation for ergonomic success, wherever that may be, is important for avoiding stress injuries to your neck, back, wrist and hands. If you are experiencing pain that may be from your workstation, our physical therapy team may be able to help you. Click here for more information about our therapists. And remember, for every half hour at the workstation, take a micro break. Take a short walk, pet the dog, refill your water bottle!

Spectrum Orthopaedics logo