Work Pain Free With Computer Ergonomics

Many people spend hours a day in front of a computer without thinking about the impact on their bodies. Physical stress can happen daily without even realizing it by extending wrists, slouching, sitting without foot support and straining to look at poorly placed monitors.

These practices can lead to cumulative trauma disorders or repetitive stress injuries, which create a life-long impact on health. Symptoms may include pain, muscle fatigue, loss of sensation, tingling and reduced performance.

Ergonomics is a field of study that attempts to reduce strain, fatigue, and injuries by improving product design and workspace arrangement. The goal is a comfortable, relaxed posture.

Every time you work, take time to adjust workstations in order to minimize awkward and frequently performed movements.

  1. OfficeInfographic_mosenthal spine & sportAdapt Laptops:  Laptop computers are not ergonomically designed for prolonged use. The monitor and keyboard are so close together that they cannot both be in good positions at the same time. It’s best to add a separate monitor and keyboard. The laptop can be placed on books so the top of the screen is at eye level, then use an external keyboard so that your elbows can rest at 90° by your side.

2. Modify Your Body Mechanics: Do you wear eyeglasses? Make sure they fit properly to avoid tilting your head. Type with light strokes, and try to keep your muscles relaxed. Sit “tall,” aligning your ears, shoulders and hips. When you sit, think about making yourself an inch taller. Switch hands when using a mouse, if you are able. Completely rest your wrists during breaks, including taking your hands off the mouse.

3. Adjust Your Work Patterns: Reduce prolonged computer time whenever possible. Break work into smaller segments and switch between tasks that use different motions. For example, alternate use of mouse with reading and searching the web.

4. Move!  Movement has many benefits. It relaxes tissues, lubricates joints and prevents stiffness, improves circulation, reduces fatigue, and builds stamina. Every 10 minutes, take a short (10-20 second) break. Take your hands off the keyboard and move! Every 30-60 minutes, take a brief (2-5 minute) break to stretch and/or walk around.

5. Exercise at Your Computer:


  • Neck Rotation: Slowly rotate your head as far as comfortable to the right, then left.
  • Shoulder Rotation: Circle your shoulders, then reverse directions.


  • Shoulder Squeeze: Raise your arms in front of body, with elbows bent and thumbs up. Pull elbows back, squeezing shoulder blades together. Hold for a few seconds then release.
  • Stretch Up: Sit up straight and imagine a cable attached to the top of your head. Gradually stretch to be as tall as possible, hold for a few seconds, then relax.


  • Arm Relaxation: Drop your arms and hands to your sides. Gently shake them for a few seconds.
  • Arm Rotation: Raise your arms in front of your body. Rotate arms so palms face up, then rotate so backs of hands face each other.


  • Wrist Flex: With your elbows on desk, gently use left hand to bend right hand back toward forearm. Hold for a few seconds, then relax. Repeat on other side.
  • Finger Fan: Spread your fingers as far apart as possible, hold, then clench fists, then release.


  • Toe Curl: Flex toes up, then curl toes under. Release.
  • Foot Rotation: Circle foot slowly from the ankle, then reverse.


  • Eye Rolls: Roll your eyes clockwise then counterclockwise briefly.
  • Look Away: Exercise your eyes by periodically looking away from your computer to focus on distant objects.


When to seek medical care: See a clinician if you experience:

  • Constant pain
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Other problems that interfere with daily tasks


Resources: WebMd: Office Ergonomics To Prevent Injury