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5 Ways to Prevent Injury While Sitting at the Computer

Updated: Nov 19, 2023

Inevitably, many of us find ourselves using a computer for many hours a day, which can mean that we are feeling the effects of the development of carpal tunnel, a sore back, strained eyes, and maybe even headaches.

office desk

According to Jennifer Thames, Physical Therapist of Gundersen Moundview Hospital and Clinics, easing some of the strain on your body can easily be accomplished with simple adjustments to your sitting arrangement at the computer.

1. Wrist rests for your keyboard and mouse

Keeping your wrists in a neutral position is one of the biggest keys for helping to avoid carpal tunnel. Wrist rests can definitely help with that, too. Amazon and office stores have affordable options for your keyboard and mouse. Also, if you use a laptop, connecting a wireless keyboard and mouse will help ease some of the strain. Laptop mousepads are not well suited for comfort.

2. Ergonomic office chair with armrests

Your office chair should have armrests so you can rest your elbows on the chair arms and take some pressure off your shoulders and upper back. To help your lower back, an ergonomically shaped chair, or a pillow in the small of your back will help you sit up straight.

  1. Position your neck as straight as possible

  2. Relax your shoulders

  3. Keep your elbows at 90 degrees

  4. Slightly recline your back

  5. Maintain a slight inward curve in your low back

  6. Put two inches between the chair seat and the back of your knees

  7. Keep your feet flat on the floor, or use a footrest if needed

  8. Position items in front of you, not to the side

3. Take breaks! (& do stretches)

Give your eyes, back, and shoulders a rest by taking breaks. These breaks can be as simple as standing up and doing a few shoulder rolls or as long as taking a walk. It is ideal to take breaks at least every twenty minutes. Stretches would be most helpful in preventing injury, there are selected stretches that could help target specific areas of tension.

woman typing

4. Use a blue light filter and/or glasses

Most people have heard about how harmful blue light is, especially at night when getting ready for bed. But it can also be harmful to your eyes and even causes headaches in some people. You can use blue light screen filters and apps for your computer and phone to prevent eye straining.

F.lux is software that offers blue light protection available for Windows and Mac computers. Another option is to use blue light glasses which you can find in many places including Amazon. If you wear prescription glasses, many eye doctors also have the option to add a blue light lens to them.

5. Keep your computer screen at eye level

To keep your neck from bending at a bad angle, keep your computer monitor or laptop screen at eye level. I do this by having my laptop on a shelf (see picture below). Another way would be to have a standing desk. Get creative and find something that works. best for your setup.

Working at your computer all day doesn’t always have to be a literal pain in the back. Apply as many of these tips as you can. If you find them helpful, share them with others!


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