How to set up your desk ergonomically

Harris G., Staff Writer

     You are currently sitting at your desk. If what I just said applied to you, you have a problem. Sitting at your desk is in many ways unhealthy. Practically every area of one’s desk: the chair, the monitor, the mouse, and perhaps most of all the keyboard, are in many ways not designed ergonomically. You may think that it’s fine, especially if you don’t have any pain right now, but later in life you are quite likely to. Fortunately, all of these problems are not without solutions that you can implement quite easily.

     Firstly, your chair. It should be positioned so that while using your keyboard your elbows are bent at a 90 degree angle or slightly higher to prevent strain on your wrists (more on that later). If your legs are dangling get a footstool or similar. Also, the top of your monitor should be at eye level so that you don’t strain your neck. It should also be about an arms-length away so you don’t strain your eyes. If you use a laptop, use a kickstand or some books to prop it up to the correct height. Then you can use an external keyboard and mouse.

     Next, your keyboard and mouse. These are perhaps the most problematic items. Your keyboard should, as previously mentioned, be at a 90 degree angle or slightly higher. It should also be positioned wherever your hands feel most comfortable, do not reach for your keyboard. Lastly, you should use a wrist-rest so that your wrists don’t slant upwards to reach for your keyboard. All of these things combined will prevent any wrist pain. However, there is still a risk of pain due to ulnar deviation, which is caused by using any standard keyboard as with these your arms are skewed towards each other. The only way to prevent this is to go the extra mile and buy an ergonomic keyboard. However, this isn’t necessary. As for your mouse, it should be right next to your keyboard. A smaller keyboard, such as a 65%, is beneficial here as reaching far distances for your mouse can cause strain. Additionally, move your mouse with your elbow, not your shoulder to prevent strain.

     Although these are all of the changes to your setup that you can make to be more ergonomic, there is one more change you can make, this time to your behavior. You should be getting up from your desk, stretching, and walking around once every hour. Of course, this may not be possible with 90 minute classes, but doing it at all is better than never. If you do all of these things, you will be thanking yourself in your old age.