How should I set up my computer work space?

Even though there are all sorts of specifications that a computer work space should meet, if the space isn’t configured well for you, you will not benefit from it.

Desk chair

Seat height You determine the correct seat height when your thighs and calves form a 90° angle. Make sure that you do not feel a great deal of pressure on your thighs. Set your feet flat on the floor or on a footstool.

Seat depth The thighs should be well supported, so that the back of the knee is kept free. Determine whether you have sufficient room for the back of the knee by checking if you can place your fist horizontally (that is, about four fingers wide) between the front edge of the seat and the back of your calves.

Height of the back You can get good support for your back by supporting the lower back region. By sitting up straight you will feel how your lower back curves inwards. This is where the most forward part of the back of the chair needs to come.

Angle of the back In addition to good support for the back, it is recommended that you vary your sitting position. You can do this in different ways depending on the activities you are engaged in: with the back of the chair reclining when in a listening position, and with the back of the chair leaning forwards when in an active position.

Slope of the seat If you need to sit in a single position for a long time, it is recommended that you tilt the back of the chair forward diagonally. In this way there is less pressure on the thighs, and by tilting the pelvis a bit a favourable position is created for the spinal column. When sitting in a position where you lean forward, it is important that you make good use of the back of the chair.

Armrests: height To minimise strain on the neck and shoulder muscles, it is recommended that you make use of the arm rests. Adjust the height of your arm rests so that your shoulders are relaxed and you feel sufficient support for your lower arms. Sometimes it is possible to adjust the width and depth of the arm rests to ideally suit your physique.

Armrests: rotation angle If possible, turn the armrests a bit inwards to adapt the support area of the lower arm and elbow as well as possible to the nature of your work activities.

Desk

The height of the working surface is equal to the height of the arm rest of a (correctly adjusted) desk chair. Adjust the height of the chair if the height of the desk cannot be adjusted. A foot support is needed if your feet cannot lie flat on the floor.

Computer screen

Always sit directly in front of your screen. The reading distance (± 50 to 70 cm) is good when you can just reach the screen with your finger. The height of the screen is good if the upper edge is at eye level. In this way you decrease your chances of developing neck problems.

Keyboard

Always sit directly in front of your keyboard. The keyboard should be ±10 cm away from the edge of your working surface. Collapse any feet your keyboard may have. While typing, keep your wrists straight and let your wrists/hands hover above the keyboard. Many problems develop from excessive bending of the wrists.

Mouse

Place your mouse as close to the keyboard as possible. Try to divide the strain caused use of the mouse by alternating between your right and left arms. Avoid putting your wrist in extreme positions. Hold your mouse in a straight line with your lower arm and use your elbow to make any large movements with the mouse. When making small mouse movements, keep your lower arm supported using the working surface or an armrest.

Too complicated? Watch the clip.

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Last Modified: 29-09-2014