Working at the Computer

The first consideration in setting up a computer workstation is for the chair to be properly
supportive. As with setting up your automobile seat, the first step is to move the chair back from
the desk, and with your feet resting comfortably on the floor, adjust the height of the chair so that
the buttocks and thighs are evenly supported. The back of the chair should be relatively upright,
with support to the small of the back to hold the lumbar curve forward. This lets the neck and
shoulders relax over it.

Generally, a proper computer chair is one where the back of the chair comes fully down to meet
the seat, and where there is molded support for the small of the low back to hold the curve in
place. Chairs with gaps between the seat and back will allow the hips to sag rearwards,
increasing the load on the low back and effecting the ability of the neck and shoulders to relax
over it.

Once the chair is set up, the next step is to elevate the monitor so that it is at eye level, and to
bring it forward so that it is easily read. One of the most common problems with monitor
placement is to have it positioned at the rear of the desk, which makes the operator lean forward
to see it. The use of bifocals is another common mistake, in that the neck gets held in extension
to adjust the magnifying part of the glasses to the focus of the screen. Better to dedicate low
power reading glasses to the computer workstation, and use them to magnify the screen.

Lastly, the keyboard and mouse should be dropped down so that the neck and shoulders can be
relaxed while they are operated. This avoids the prolonged tension of the shoulder muscles to
hold the shoulders up for keyboard use.

The last step in good computer use is to set the alarm to get your body up and move every 35
minutes or so. Bodies are designed to move, and the two hour marathon at the computer isn’t a
healthy pattern.