How to Set Up an Ergonomically Correct Workstation

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If you work or study at a computer for a long period of time each day and you have an improperly set up workstation, you may be risking serious health consequences. Ranging from a stiff neck to repetitive motion disorders, these injuries are painful and can be long-term. Yet, they are easily preventable, if you take the time to set your workspace up correctly. Here are some tips on workspace set-up to help you maintain your postural health and work more comfortably.


  1. Adjust chair height properly. Adjust your chair height so that your feet are flat on the floor, this height can be found by standing facing your chair, and raising the seatpan to just below your kneecap. If your desk doesnt allow for ajustability and you are too short to fit the other desk ergonomic requirements, you should place a footrest under your feet and adjust the chair properly from there.
  2. Set chair depth. The back of your knees should fall 2 inches (5 cm) from the end of the seatpan, giving room for three fingers between the back of your leg and the chair.
  3. Align backrest It should press comfortably against your back and follow the curves of your back. If your chair will not adjust to the proper setting, you can use a towel to make it fit better. Back rest should alow you to sit reclined from 110 to 130 degrees (this may also be done by tilting your seat pan downwards)
  4. Set armrests Allow your elbows to form a 90 degree angle with your hands on your keyboard. Take care that your elbows are not winged out, but are at a comfortable, fairly vertical alignment. Your arms should be parallel to the ground and your wrists in a neutral position. If you have a wrist rest, do not use it while typing. It is fine to rest your wrists there when not typing, but when typing your hands should be floating over the keyboard.
  5. Flatten keyboard on the desk. If there is a setting that lifts the back of the keyboard, do not extend it.
  6. Place mouse near keyboard . Do not use a wrist rest on a mouse pad. Although it may seem like a good idea, it has been shown to increase a persons risk of Carpal Tunnel syndrome.
  7. Adjust height of monitor. Place the monitor so that the entire screen sits below eye level. The average computer is designed for someone the size of the typical 25 year old man. It is likely that you are not this exact, "ideal" size, so make any necessary adjustments.
  8. It is good to adjust the height of your monitor but it is best for your neck to place that monitor at direct eye level so you are not straining your neck all day looking down. Try putting a small single shelf on you desk that will raise your monitor up 1-2 inches, adjust to your eye level. Go to an ergonomic furniture site and you will find they are selling a lot of standing desk units with arms that hold your monitor a few feet away from your face but directly in front of you, and then you tilt your monitor slightly to get the best lighting, view, etc. Placing the screen below eye level will strain your upper neck, at the occipital base of skull. This is where some muscles attach that run down you mid back. Constantly looking down all day at your monitor will cause you to have a very tight neck, shoulders, and upper back.
  9. Arrange items within reach. Place your phone, writing equipment, books and other frequently-used items within easy reach from where you sit. You should not need to stretch to reach frequently used objects.


  • When typing from a document, it is best to have it on a stand as close as possible to the screen. You can also obtain an arm to attach to the computer that holds the document at eye level, so you only have to move your eyes to read from it.
  • Make sure the lighting and monitor position is such that there is no glare on the screen when you are facing it directly.
  • Try to move as frequently as possible to avoid staying in one place. Get up to shred a document or get a paper off the printer.
  • An old phone book makes a great footrest if you cant purchase a ready-made one. You can adjust it by tearing out or adding pages!
  • It is a good idea to stop typing and stretch or walk about every 30 minutes. If you forget, set an alarm on your computer, watch, phone or other instrument to remind you.


  • Do not wait until you begin to have problems before making these ergonomic adjustments. It can be much more difficult to recover from an injury than to prevent it.
  • If you need to stretch to reach items, it means it is time to get off your chair and walk to get the item.

Things You Will Need

  • Adjustable office chair
  • Adjustable keyboard tray
  • Footrest (see Tips)

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