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Ergonomics – Desktop PCs


In Monday’s blog, we covered the basics of office ergonomics, and the impact it can have on concentration and productivity. Today we’ll continue with a little more specific information for desktop PC users.


A high percentage of jobs now will involve use of a computer or other IT equipment, but not everyone knows how to sit correctly to avoid cramps, strains, aches, stiffness and other more long term problems. Ergonomic equipment is something we get asked about quite frequently, and we’ll cover some of the products you can get later in the article, but we’ll start off with some tips that can help you make the most of the furniture and accessories you already have.

Here’s a few pointers that could make your day a little bit more comfortable:

  • Sit in your chair properly! This might sound silly, but many people actually sit on the edge of their chair, and their back is unsupported by the backrest. Push yourself as far back into your chair as you can.
  • Don’t let your feet dangle. If sitting back in your chair means your feet are not touching the floor, don’t use the base of the chair as a footrest, as this can cause lower back, hip and knee problems. Instead, get a footrest and rest your feet at the correct angle in front of you comfortably.
  • Adjust your chair height. You should not have to reach up or down to your keyboard, as this puts unnecessary stress on the wrists, arms, shoulders and back. If your chair has armrests, adjust the height of it so that you can comfortably rest your elbows on them.
  • Set your chair back to a comfortable level. It should be between 100 and 110 degrees to correctly support your back and avoid pain. Try to avoid having it set too far back.
  • Adjust your monitor height and position. The top portion of your screen should be at eye level, and the monitor should be directly in front of you. Having to look up or down or turn your head constantly to view a screen can cause neck problems and headaches.
  • Position your keyboard and mouse correctly. Your keyboard should not be so far away from you that you have to reach to type. It should be close enough to comfortably type with relaxed arms. Bring the mouse in as close as possible so you are not forced to reach across the desk to navigate. Having your equipment too far away can cause stress to the wrists, arms, shoulders, and back. Make sure your equipment is centred to your body so that you don’t have to twist in order to type or use the mouse.
  • Use a wrist rest. These are designed to be used when not typing, make use of them and save the strain on your arms, wrists and hands.
  • Take frequent breaks. Get up, walk around, stretch out or follow some of the exercises detailed in this helpful set of printable postcards provided by the CSP.

If you experience pain while using a computer, stop and take a break. If the pain continues, consult a doctor or physiotherapist.

If you would like to read in more depth about how to sit correctly at a computer, a full guide can be found at:


Sometimes, if certain muscles are weak, there is an underlying injury, the person has a disability, or sitting at a computer is painful for any other reason such as bad posture, some extra help may be needed in order to make computer use safe and comfortable.

There are various things you can buy to support areas of the body while sitting at a desk. Here’s a few of the most popular:

Generally inexpensive, these allow for free airflow around your back while supporting the lumbar region of your back.

These make it difficult to slouch and so promote good posture. Keeping yourself centred on the ball also strengthens your core muscles. There’s one of these in our offices, it looks strange but apparently works quite well!

These look strange and uncomfortable but can help quite a bit with back problems for some people. They aren’t suited for everyone (especially those with bad knees), but those with problems in the coccyx or tailbone area have been known to benefit from these as they spread the weight over the buttocks and the knees.

Surprisingly uncommon given how cheap and easy to obtain they are, wrist rests come in many forms and can really help to take the strain off your wrists, arms, hands and shoulders when you are not typing. They help to prevent RSI because encouraging you to type with your wrists and hands in the correct neutral position, and giving you somewhere soft to rest your hands while not typing, instead of on a hard desk or keyboard edge. You can also get mouse pad versions of these.

Very useful for avoiding lumbar pain due to stress on the lower back muscles, and pain in the knees or ankles from keeping your legs crossed or hanging for an extended period. Foot rests encourage correct, flat positioning of the feet at a comfortable angle.

The humble cushion! Preferably made of firm foam or memory foam, these can be underestimated. They can be used wherever you feel you need support. Make sure to choose the right size and shape for your needs.


In Friday’s Blog, we’ll be taking a look at the ergonomics of mobile computing, and how you can make yourself more comfortable while using your laptop, tablet or smartphone.

For IT advice or information, or to see what we could do for your business, give us a call on 0845 234 0580 or email us at

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Posted on by Emily
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