How to work comfortably at your desk
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Stuck at a desk for most of your day? Review how your workstation can prevent pain and injury in your hands, neck and back.
Christine Hinke, MD, Associate Director of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center, says, “You want to remain in as neutral a position as possible while working. You don’t want the keyboard too high or too low so that your arms and wrists are overly bent or stretched. You don’t want your feet to be dangling or your neck constantly turned to see your screen.” Here, she offers a few easy fixes (and provides a real-life example in the picture to the right):
– Try an under-desk shelf that lowers the keyboard.
– Use a wrist rest to elevate your wrists.
– Situate your screen directly in front of you, not to the side.
– Get a riser to lift your screen to eye level (try a phonebook!).
– Adjust your chair to find a good height that feels comfortably neutral in relation to your desk and your keyboard.
– Consider a footstool.
– If you are on the phone throughout the day and tend to cradle the phone between your ear and neck, use a hands-free headset or the phone’s speaker. At the very least, put a shoulder rest on the receiver.
Dr. Hinke also advises frequent breaks. “Stop periodically throughout your day. Get up, stretch and take a little walk around the office,” she says. “It’s a strain on your musculoskeletal system, as well as your cardiovascular system, to sit at a desk for hours on end without moving and stretching.”
If your work-related discomfort is not responding to your adjustments, get an evaluation at the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation faculty practice, 212.844.1294.