By Nicole Tinkham
If you’re like 86% of Americans, you sit at your desk all day long (for an average of 8 hours per day). Your typical day begins when you arrive at the office, plop down in your comfortable (hopefully) office chair, lean in close to read those urgent emails from the night before, and stay in that exact position until you’ve reached the end of the work day. For you, straining forward to see your screen properly is normal and resting your phone on your shoulder seems like to easiest way to use it. If you can relate to any of the above, we feel your pain (both literally and physically) and decided it’s time to take a stand against terrible desk ergonomics!
Over the next few weeks, we will be putting together a series of blogs on simple and EASY ways to set your work area up to prevent physical fatigue and instead position yourself for comfort and longevity beginning with the positioning of your wrists. If you still think you’ve got it all figured out with your colorful wrist rest, read on. You could be using it wrong! And just because you aren’t currently in pain doesn’t mean it can’t develop over time. Get proactive TODAY to prevent issues like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from being part of your future.
Here’s a tongue twister. Wrist rests are for resting wrists, right? Incorrect! They should actually be called PALM rests. To achieve a neutral positioning (which is recommended), you must place your palms on the rest. This alleviates pressure off of the wrists. When we talk about neutral positioning, everything should be straight from your elbow to your fingertips. Do not angle your wrists up or down. Keep them straight and make any adjustments you need to keep them that way!
Another common mistake we come across is the angle of the keyboard. You know those little feet on the bottom of keyboards that can either be folded in or flipped out to raise the keyboard? It’s a natural instinct to flip the feet out which looks like a more ergonomic option. However, you actually want your keyboard to lay flat on the desk. The only instance where you’d want an angle on your keyboard is if you’re leaning forward in your chair. We suggest using an adjustable keyboard tray in this situation. The angled keyboard will press you back more in your chair, providing neutral posture.
A huge adjustment to make ASAP regarding your mouse and keyboard is to move them down and closer to you. You may have to do a little shopping for an under the desk keyboard tray at this point. This ensures that your elbows are at a 90 degree angle and your wrists are flat. Keep in mind when setting up your desk that the mouse and keyboard should be at the same level and everything should be aligned (your monitor, keyboard, and you).
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome isn’t something to take lightly. The tingling and numbness in the fingers (excluding the pinky) and palm is caused by a pinched nerve. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome comes about when the median nerve in the carpal tunnel area is compressed and the nerve is irritated, repetitive flexing of the wrist being a risk factor. You can now see the importance of workplace ergonomics.
Believe it or not, wrist pain as well as hand and arm pain while working at a desk is quite common. In fact, 4 out of 10 people experience this type of pain. Luckily the solutions outlined in this blog are simple enough for you to immediately make the necessary changes to work comfortably all day. Please give us a call at 941-747-2995 or post a comment below for help with choosing the correct accessories for your office. And stay tuned for even more ergonomic solutions including monitors, chairs, and much more.