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Ergonomic Tips for Computer Users, Work Technique and Work Environment

Ideal ergonomic office feature

Ergonomic Tips for Computer Users

Ergonomics:   Study of how people physically interact with their work – fitting the job, the equipment and the work environment to the worker. Prolonged use of a computer keyboard and/or mouse can lead to frequent muscle aches and nerve pain unless a few guidelines are followed. You can work more comfortably and safely if you incorporate the following ergonomic tips into your work style.


Maintain good posture when working

  • Maintain good posture when working at the keyboard. Utilize a chair with back support. Keep your feet supported on the floor or on a footrest when you work to reduce pressure on your lower back
  • Avoid twisting or bending your trunk or neck. Frequently used items should be positioned directly in front of you and angled upward on a copyholder when working. Keep your shoulders relaxed with your elbows close to your sides.
  • Sit all the way back in the chair against the backrest.
  • Keep your knees equal to, or lower, than your hips with your feet supported.
  • Keep your elbows in a slightly open angle (100° to 110°) with your wrists in a straight position. The keyboard tilt can help you attain the correct arm position. A negative tilt (front of keyboard higher than back) helps when working in upright sitting positions. If you recline, a positive tilt (front of the keyboard lower than the back) might be necessary.
  • Your wrists should be in a neutral or straight position when keying or using a pointing device or calculator. Wrist rests can assist you in maintaining a neutral position when used properly during pauses. Float your arms above the keyboard and wrist rest when keying. Avoid planting your wrists on the table or wrist rest. This can result in bending the wrists either up and down or side to side.

Office of Horrors

Work Technique and Avoid overreaching

  • Keep the mouse and keyboard within close reach.
  • Center the most frequently used section of the keyboard directly in front of you.
  • Center the monitor in front of you at arm’s length distance and position the top of the monitor 2” to 3” above seated eye level. You should be able to view the screen without turning or tilting your head up or down.
  • Place source documents on a document folder positioned between your monitor and keyboard. If there is not enough space, place documents on an elevated surface close to your screen.

Ideal Office

Use Good Typing and Work Technique

  • Float your arms above the keyboard and keep your wrist straight when keying.
  • If you use a palmrest, use it to support your palms when pausing, not while keying.
  • Hit the keyboard keys with light force. The average user keys four times harder than necessary.
  • Keep your wrists straight and hands relaxed when using your pointer.
  • Don’t hold the pointer with a tight grip or extend fingers above the activation buttons.
  • Avoid moving the pointer with your thumb or wrist. Movement should originate at your shoulder and elbow.
  • Reduce keystrokes with the use of macros or software programs allowing “sticky keys.” Use scroll locks and keystroke combinations to reduce pointing-device movements.
  • Keep your fingers and knuckles relaxed when working at the keyboard.
  • Never hold a pen or pencil in your hand when keying.
  • Avoid holding your pointing device tightly. Your hand should be relaxed.
  • Rest your eyes by refocusing on distant objects intermittently when working.

Additional Office Setup Steps

additional office setup steps

 Reduce Glare and Eye Fatigue

  • Place your monitor away from bright lights and windows. Use an optical glass glare filter when necessary.
  • Take eye breaks and intermittently refocus on distant objects. Try palming your eyes in your hands to reduce eye fatigue.

sight outside the windows

Work Environment

  • Avoid excessive reaching. Your keyboard, pointing device, files and telephone should be within easy reach.
  • Use a keyboard tray to properly position your keyboard and pointing device.
  • When writing at the computer, avoid excessive reaching over the keyboard or work materials. A sturdy in-line copy holder can double as a writing surface if appropriately positioned.
  • Position the monitor so that the viewed part of the screen allows you to keep your neck in a neutral or straight position. The monitor should be centered directly in front of you. The top of the computer screen should be slightly below the top of your head, so that you are looking at it with a slightly downward gaze.
  • Use a copy holder positioned in line with your monitor and keyboard.
  • Position your monitor to eliminate excessive glare or reflections from windows and lighting.
  • Customize your computer by using your software. The screen font, contrast, pointer size, speed, and color can all be adjusted to maximize your comfort and efficiency.


Take Breaks

  • Take 1 or 2 minute breaks every 20-30 minutes, and 5 minute breaks every hour.
  • Every few hours, try to get up and move around.


  • Aerobic exercise will help to sustain strength, improve cardiovascular conditioning, and counteract the strain of sedentary computer use.
  • Routine use of non-prescribed medications or a wrist brace is not recommended. If you begin to develop symptoms, notify your supervisor. Slight changes made early can avoid future complications.

Also there are couple of exercises that can help avoid stiffness and help you to stretch and relax after long work on computer, but that is another story in some of the next articles.