Tweak Your Desk Set Up, Not Your Body

Here are eight tips to ensure your workspace doesn’t wreck your body.

THE AVERAGE PERSON spends about 90,000 hours of their life working. If you have a desk job, that’s a lot of time in a chair – and a lot of potential for neck, back and shoulder pain. You may not be able to control how many hours you spend in a chair, but you can strain-proof your setup. Phyllis King, an occupational therapy professor and director of campus ergonomic services at UW-Milwaukee, has some pointers.

Keep Moving

If you don’t use your muscles, you’ll lose them. Stretch or walk every 20-30 minutes to promote muscle health and circulation and prevent stress injuries.

Ditch the Dining Chair

An adjustable chair, with armrests and lumbar support, is King’s top choice. Don’t have one? Roll a towel or grab a couch pillow to support the curve of your lower back.



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Uncross Your Legs

Crossing your legs for extended periods compromises circulation and causes cramping.

Keep Your Feet Flat

Aim for 2 inches behind the back of your knees and the front of the chair, with your feet at on the floor. Use a box if you can’t reach to improve blood ow to your lower legs.

Don’t Look Down

Looking down all day is a great way to end up with neck and shoulder pain. Keep your neck neutral, your shoulders back and relaxed, and your eyes parallel with the top of the screen.

Stand Often

Standing while working is a simple way to decrease stress on your body. Bonus: It improves productivity, focus and mood.

Rest Your Elbows at Your Sides

Any distance away from your trunk will strain your upper back and neck. Because table heights are fixed, consider an adjustable chair.

Keep your forearms parallel to the floor

Stretch out your hands while your arms are parallel to the floor – that’s where your keyboard should be. If the setup doesn’t work with your laptop, use an external keyboard.


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s July issue.

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