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Getting your posture right - RSI and how to avoid it

How to improve your posture with better desk ergonomics


Getting Your Posture Right

Posted By Cathy Bennett

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Getting Your Posture Right – We spend more time in front of computers than ever before, but did you know that without correct posture and ergonomic equipment you could be putting yourself at risk of being diagnosed with Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).  An estimated 9.5 million working days were lost due to Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WRMSDs)[1]

Symptoms include intermittent shooting pains in the hands, wrists, forearms, and back. It is important to have a correct typing position to avoid the development of RSI or other pain related diseases. Very few of us type for less than 2-3 hours a week, but the majority of us who sit for prolonged hours in front of the computer should keep the following in mind.

Here are our top tips for improving your posture:

  • Head, Back & Shoulders Straight – STOP slouching! Keep your shoulders and back relaxed Your upper arm should be straight and lower arm at 90 degree straight on the desk.  Remember sitting in any one position for an extended period is unhealthy. Remember to get up and move around.
  • Keyboard and Mouse – Your mouse and keyboard should be as close together as possible. Your upper arm should be straight and lower arm at 90 degree straight on the desk.  Your wrists should be at same level as the keyboard keys such that the arm muscle share the typing pressure, not only your fingers. You may require a wrist rest to help use your keyboard and mouse correctly, reducing weight on your shoulders.  Keep your legs straight down on the floor.
  • The right chair – Your chair also plays an important role.  It should be non-sliding and have five point bases. Fully adjustable with height adjustments, tilts, backrest, and arm rest is ideal. You may also require a separate back rest which will further support your back, as well as a foot rest to ensure that your legs are at a 90 degree angle to your desk.
  • Monitor: Ensure that the top of your monitor is at eye level (or slightly below). It should be 16 to 28 inches away from the tip of your nose.
  • Take Regular Breaks –  RSA Action advises that you take a 5 minute break after every 30 minutes of continuous activity. Always sit up straight and get some exercise everyday. Be especially mindful of your weight.

Our simple checklist

  1. Check your body position – straighten up and don’t forget to move!
  2. Is your chair at the right height?
  3. Is your desk height suitable and comfortable?
  4. Do you need a footrest?
  5. Is your monitor at the right height and viewing distance?
  6. Is there enough desk space for your keyboard and space for your hands and forearms to rest?

 Lets’ get physical

Just because you are sat down, doesn’t mean that you can’t exercise, plus this really isn’t even strenuous!

  • Eyes –  Close your eyes tightly and then open them widely and repeat several times.  Remember the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look away from your screen at something 20 feet away from you.
  • Hands: Spread your fingers as far apart as you can for ten seconds and then make a tight fist and hold it and repeat.
  • Neck: Remember that warm up and cool down technique at the gym, slowly turn your head to the side and hold for ten seconds, then turn to the other side and hold. Slowly tilt your head to the side and hold it for ten seconds, then slowly tilt to the other side and hold. Repeat.
  • Shoulders: It is good to shrug!  Slowly shrug shoulders in a circular forward motion, then reverse the motion in a backwards motion and repeat. Spread your arms apart and make slow circles forward and then backwards.

All of these techniques, together with ensuring your work space and equipment is correct will enhance your posture and help prevent RSI occurring.

[1] Source: HSE.Gov

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