Tips for comfortable computing

Working on a computer for hours on end can become an uncomfortable experience. Your back starts to ache, your eyes tire, and your wrists begin to feel sore. What you might not know is that even these seemingly minor symptoms of physical discomfort might be the beginning of long-term or permanent injuries. By learning how to set up your workstation and computer correctly, you can help prevent these types of injuries from developing.

Picture of a person sitting at a desk
Adjust your chair, desk, and monitor for more comfortable computing

Adjust your seat

To start, make sure that your chair is at the correct height. Adjust the chair so that your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are bent at a ninety degree angle or greater to prevent poor circulation in your lower legs. If your feet do not touch the floor, lower the seat or place a footrest under the desk. The seat of the chair should be parallel to the floor.

Sit up straight

Next, adjust the backrest of the chair to a comfortable position. If the chair has a lumbar support, align it with the small of your back. When you sit, maintain contact with the backrest, keep your neck and shoulders relaxed, and try to maintain good posture.

Adjust your desk

Adjust the height of your desk so that your legs fit underneath with your feet on the ground (or on the footrest). Position your arms at your side and bend your elbows at ninety degree angles, so that your hands are in front of you with palms down. Ideally, the desk should be about an inch below your hands. This keeps you from bending your wrist up too much as you work. Keep the keyboard on a flat surface and place the mouse nearby so you don't have to reach too far for it. Avoid bending your wrists and resting your forearms, wrists, or palms on the armrests of your chair or on the desk, and avoid using too much force when typing or clicking the mouse.

Tip

  • Clear your desk of clutter and keep regularly used items, such as your phone, close enough that you do not have to reach too far to access them.

Move your monitor

Keep the monitor about an arm's length away from you. If it still seems a bit close, you can push the monitor back, but make sure you can see the screen clearly without leaning forward or squinting. Also make sure that the top third of the monitor screen is in line with your eyes. This prevents you from straining your eyes or constantly bending your head up or down to look at the screen.

Stretch and rest frequently

When you work on your computer for long periods of time, take a break at regular intervals. Every twenty minutes or so, stand up and stretch your arms, shoulders, back, and legs to relieve muscle tension and help promote circulation in your extremities. Don't forget to rest your eyes as well. Focus on a spot approximately twenty feet away for about twenty seconds.

Although it might seem excessive to stretch and rest your eyes every twenty minutes, these small breaks can help your productivity and make you feel more comfortable while working.

Following these simple tips can improve how you feel while using a computer. However, if you still feel uncomfortable or develop symptoms that might indicate a more serious condition (for example, if you experience a dull ache or weakness in your hands or wrists, loss of strength in your grip, tightness or stiffness in joints, sharp pains, or numbness and a tingling sensation in your extremities) consult a physician as soon as possible.