DSE - Workstation setup
We all know that sitting up straight means you’ll never get pain when sitting at your work station... Not quite!
Our understanding of desk based work stations and the causes of pain are moving forwards. This doesn’t mean the HSE guidelines are out of date, far from it. Instead finding the right place for you is specific to you and not lots of right angles.
If you want to complete a self evaluation click here for the HSE self assessment form.
Below are some useful tips to help setup your workstation.
- Seat back - Backrest is at the right height and can angle backwards. Ensure your mid-back is supported.
- Lumbar support - Your low back is in the base of the seat. If there is a gap at the bottom of the seat make sure your low back its in this space.
- Seat height - Adjust so your forearms rest on the desk.
- Seat length - The back of your knees should have a little space. If the seat length is too long your low back will struggle to fit in the lumbar support area.
- Foot rest - Needed if your feet cant touch the floor.
- Knee space - Space free for you to move into. Some desks have bars or obstructions that prevent you fitting under our desk.
- Forearms - Elbows and forearms horizontal or very slightly raised above wrist.
- Keyboard position - Wrists in 'neutral' position avoiding flex/extending excessively
- Screen Height - Eye line at the top of the screen and titled to comfort.
- Wrist support - Wrist supported by the table or rest to avoid extension of wrist
Comfortable and at ease is where you need to be for periods no longer than 30 mins. However, there are positions that may be comfortable but are far from useful to avoid pain and discomfort at your desk.
For example, slouching... We know it’s not useful for keeping pain away. But is can be the most comfortable way to sit when you’re concentrating. Rather than using an array of reminders or a big stick, what we find works best is exploring why your body want’s to return to this position.
For example the areas highlighted below can make it much harder for you to sit in a more up
Your mid and upper
back is stiff
Your thoracic spine needs the ability to extend from top to bottom to enable you to sit in a ‘good’ position. Lacking this mobility will make it harder to sit without your neck over extending.
Pectoral muscles are shorter
Being at a desk can make your pectoral muscles shorter, especially if you don’t regularly stretch this area. This pulls your shoulder blades around the front of your chest making you rounded.
Stronger mid-back muscles
It‘s easy to think about the rhomboids when trying to keep good posture. What gets missed are the muscles that keep your spine upright. The Thoracic Erector Spinae is responsible for this.
Neck and upper back pain has a very high correlation with ’poor posture’ especially at work. We have a range of exercises, stretches and posture advice available to help you manage your body at work.