Tips for Ergonomically Optimizing Computer Workspaces

A recipient of the Patient’s Choice Best Doctor award, Dr. Andrew Collier is a distinguished orthopaedic surgeon based in Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Andrew Collier maintains an active presence in numerous professional societies, including the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Although accidents and sports injuries are among the most common reasons for visits to orthopaedic specialists, simple, everyday activities can also strain the body to the point of injury. Many Americans spend hours of each day sitting at a computer, and the repetitive motions associated with this task can have a heavy toll on the body, resulting in muscle strain injuries and long-term joint problems. Fortunately, a few simple adjustments can help prevent several of these issues.

Most workstations can be vastly improved by properly adjusting the chair, monitor, and keyboard. Invest in a chair with a rotating base, adjustable armrests, and lumbar support (the curved portion of your lower back). The AAOS recommends that the monitor stay at about arm’s length with the top edge at eye level—this may require a monitor stand. The keyboard should be within reach without bending the wrists.

With everything properly adjusted, the elbows should be bent at nearly 90 degrees, with the feet resting flat on the ground (or a footrest). Correct sitting posture involves keeping the ears, shoulders, and waist in a straight line with the shoulders relaxed.

A mounting body of medical evidence shows that sitting for long periods of time may have a much more profound impact on long-term health than previously thought. The AAOS recommends frequent breaks, short walks, and simple stretching exercises to avoid discomfort.