Step 1: Workstation setup
When assessing your workstation you should have enough room to comfortably get your legs under the desk when seated, have enough space to put equipment and other materials on the desk surface without crowding, and be able to reach your keyboard and mouse without straining forwards. If your feet cannot be placed flat and comfortably on the floor then a footrest should be used.
Step 2: Adjust seating
Adjust the height of your chair so that when working your forearms are parallel to the floor, your upper arms hang loosely from relaxed shoulders and your elbow are bent at an angle of 90°. The backrest should be adjusted or positioned so that firm support is given to your lower back, this will enable you to maintain the correct sitting posture. The front edge of the seat should be rounded to avoid uncomfortable pressure on the back of your thigh. If the chair you use is not adjustable in any of these ways the same effects can be achieved using a variety of cushions, seat wedges and portable back rests at very little cost.
Step 3: Monitor position
Your monitor should be positioned so that it is central and directly in front of you. The viewing distance between you and the screen should be around 40-60cm's or an arms-length away from you and your eye line should be directly opposite the top third of your monitor screen.
Step 4: Wrist position
Your wrists should be straight, neither bent up or down, nor angled to the left or right, therefore allowing your hand to be flat and parallel to the keyboard. You should not rest your wrists on the desk surface or a wrist pad whilst you are typing as this can reduce blood flow to the hand and consequently increase muscle fatigue. However it can be comfortable to rest on wrist pads and cushioned products when taking a break from typing.
Step 5: Take regular breaks
It is important to take regular mini-breaks to allow your muscles to relax and recover. Taking a break can be as simple as moving your hands away from the keyboard and allowing your arms to hang by your sides. To avoid shoulder and neck fatigue you should stand up from you desk and stretch every 30 mins. There are also a number of exercises and stretches that you can perform during one of your mini-breaks, see Videojug's film 'RSI prevention exercises.' You can even download programs which prompt you to take a break when you are becoming to engrossed in your work. These include Break Reminder from www.cheqsoft.com, and RSIguard from www.rsiguard.com.
Step 6: Stay Fit and Healthy
Exercise doesn't need to mean running a marathon or training for the Tour de France, but eating well and being generally fit and healthy will minimise the risk of injuries developing. The key is to exercise regularly, 'little and often' no matter how gentle, especially if your job is static and sedentary in nature. Pilates is often recommended as a complementary method to improving postural problems, as is the Alexander Technique and Yoga. See our collection of Videojug films about both Yoga and Pilates for further information. If you have already developed a RSI see Videojug's film 'How to treat RSI's' for help with what to do to resolve your problem.