Your Workstation

Pinner & Harrow Mobile Osteopaths

Workstation ergonomics

By addressing your workstation ergonomics you can reduce work strain, and so decrease your chance of suffering low back pain, neck pain, and other related symptoms.

Sit back in your chair, making use of the lumbar support if you have one. Your elbows should be at a 90 degree angle, with your forearms horizontal to your desk. Avoid pressure on the back of your legs from your chair, allow enough space under your desk for your legs to move comfortably, and use a footrest if needed.

If you are a touch typist, adjust your chair height so that your eyes are level with the top of your computer screen. Document holders should be next to the screen.

Typists who need to look at the keyboard may find it better to have the monitor slightly lower, so minimising the need for head movement between the two. Document holders should be between the screen and keyboard.

Avoid glare on your computer screen.

Have frequent, regular, breaks away from your workstation (5 minutes every hour), allowing you to move freely and take your eyes off the computer screen. 

If you suffer from RSI, including Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and lateral epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow), you may consider that it is worthwhile to use a vertical mouse, the aim of which is to hold the hand in a more anatomically neutral position.

Using an exercise (swiss) ball as a chair

Use of an exercise (Swiss) ball as a chair, whether at home or, if an employer allows, in the office, aids core strength, and posture, by constantly engaging vital core postural muscles. Care must be taken to maintain good posture through the region of the upper back, neck and shoulder girdle, as well as lower back.

If you are not used to sitting on a Swiss ball, have low back problems, or have poor core strength, it may be advisable to limit using a Swiss ball to 10-15 minute sessions at first to prevent fatigue of muscles.

Please gain professional advice if you have low back problems such as a disc injury before using an exercise ball as a seat. 

Laptop use

When using a laptop, or similar, for long periods of time, there are additional ergonomic considerations, especially if you do not have the ability to make a workstation around your laptop. This may be the case, for example, if you are working on a train, or you move your laptop between rooms of your house. Sustained laptop use can result in compromising your neck, shoulder girdle, and spine, with an increased possibility of suffering headaches. Maintaining a head position in front of the bodies' natural center of gravity, for example, increases the amount of work the muscles at the back of your neck and back need to perform, so compromising them.

Due to the small nature of laptop keyboards, there is an increased risk of RSI with using them. If possible, a separate (or ergonomic) keyboard and mouse should be used in combination with raising the laptop so it it's screen is at a more appropriate height. Alternatively, a separate screen which can be raised to an appropriate level should be considered. This also being the case if the laptop has a small screen, so preventing eye strain, or any postural changes which may result from needing to be able to see the screen effectively.

Spine with correct posture and computer workstation ergonomic setup

Office and workstation based stretches 

If you have back or neck problems, please gain advice before attempting some of these.

1-keeping your back upright, and your hands linked behind your head, gradually bend your head forward, so stretching the muscles at the back of your neck. Hold for 20 seconds

2-with your left forearm on the top of your head, place the palm of your left hand just above your right ear. Gently pull so that you bend your neck to the left, so stretching the right side of your neck. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the opposite side

3-stand side on to a wall, lift one straight arm to the side and place your palm on to the wall at shoulder height. Keeping your feet flat on the floor, stretch your opposite arm over your head towards the wall, so stretching the opposite side of your body. Hold for 20 seconds

4-with your hands clasped behind your back, push your shoulders back, so expanding and stretching your chest. Hold for 20 seconds

5-straighten one arm in front of you palm down. With your other arm flex your wrist, so stretching your forearm muscles. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the opposite side

6-with your palms together in front of you in the "prayer" position, push your hands downwards so you feel a stretch on the underside of your forearms

7-fan your straightened fingers apart, so stretching the palms of your hands. Hold for 20 seconds

8-seated on a stable chair, cross your right thigh over your left and rotate your body to the right, so stretching your lower back. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the opposite side


Videos for the above stretches as well as further ergonomic advice can be found here.

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