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Healthy at Work - Your Workstation Setup

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Updated April 13, 2013

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Is Your Workstation Setup a Posture Hazard?
desk posture

Examples of poor posture at bad workstation setups

A,D: (c)2012, Marguerite Ogle; B,C,E,F: courtesy of Kare Products

It is amazing how much emphasis many of us put on fitness, yet we completely neglect our workstation setup. Those of us who do Pilates are especially attuned to good posture and alignment, but I can't tell you how many Pilates and fitness-conscious people I've seen with workstations that are absolutely working against their bodies.

Joseph Pilates was all about lifestyle -- famously telling people how to do everything from how to sleep to how to take a shower, so I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that if he was living now, he would have a lot to say (and invent) about this computer workstation thing. Fortunately, we do have good resources for giving our bodies the best chance at keeping the fitness we've worked hard for, even when we have to sit.

I've teamed up with office ergonomics expert Karen Burke, founder of Kare Products, at the Kare Products showroom in Boulder, CO to show you, step by step, just how how set up your workstation. Jump right into step one, best chair height, or review some of the common workstation setup mistakes below:

You might find some of your own risky habits here (photos above):
A. Seat too low/desk too high and monitor too high. Result: tight shoulders, pressure on wrists, crick in neck
B. Too much stuff under the desk. Result: no place to put feet and legs in a good posture position.
C. Desk too high. Result: when the feet are not supported by the floor, it pulls on the low back and poor posture such as resting the feet on chair legs or other places compound problems over time.
D. Un-contained workspace. result: Constantly Reaching and leaning for things you need leads to chronic imbalances in the body. Imbalances lead to compensation patterns which can result in compromised mobility and pain.
E. Office Chair too big -- too high, too deep. Result: Legs and feet are not well supported which pulls the whole body out of line. Lumbar spine is not supported. Weight of arms is pulling on shoulders and neck.
F. Chair too low: Result: Elbows below wrists takes the hand-wrist-elbow alignment out of balance putting pressure on hands and wrists.

Do any of these issues look familiar? There are more, of course. Slumping into the low back is another common example, but the way to start fixing them is the same: Sit at work with a workstation setup that promotes good posture. We are going to show you, set by step, how to do that.

Start with the best office chair height

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