START WITH YOUR CHAIR
A commonly repeated phrase says that you should always buy quality products that separate you from the ground. It's usually cited in reference to tires for your car, mattress, and shoes. The thought process is that buying quality products will last longer, work better, be safer, and ultimately pay for themselves over years of use.
Add a quality office chair to the list of products that you shouldn't skimp on.
We recommend getting an office chair that's designed to be ergonomic which usually means that it has:
Ample lumbar support
Height Adjustable Seat
Having a chair with these features will instantly cut down your risk of MSDs by supporting your body in the right places (lower back and glutes), putting your joints at proper angles, and make work overall more comfortable. If you want an ergonomic work environment, you HAVE to start with the chair.
To help you get an idea of where to look for your next task chair, read over our list of the Top 10 Office Chairs or try the Office Chair Genius.
When sitting in your chair, you should have ample lumbar support. Your thighs should be parallel to the ground with your feet flat on the floor. Your arms should rest comfortably at your sides with your elbows at a nice 90 degree angle to your keyboard. Which leads us to our next point.
ORGANIZE YOUR DESK
If you're having terrible flashbacks to your mom yelling at you to clean your room, good! You need to clean your desk up to make it more ergonomic. Part of that means reducing clutter, but most of it is keeping your work tools nearby in convenient and easy to use places. For example, if you staple often, you'll want to keep the stapler within arm's reach in a non-obstructive and easy to find location. The key is to reduce unnecessary strain and stretching, especially with movements that you do repetitively.
Another part of getting your desk ergonomic is making sure that you're keeping it at the right height in relation to your body. Remember the rule of Ts? You want your major joints (except for shoulders—they should be relaxed with your arms next to your body) to be at 90 degrees. That means legs, elbows, and knees.
HERE'S SOME ADVICE FOR DIFFERENT SIZED FOLKS:
Most likely, if you're exceptionally tall, you'll run into the problem of having a desk height that's too low. If you adjust your chair to the correct height with your legs and feet properly aligned, your desk will be too low, and your forearms will be at a downward slope to the desk surface. One solution is to look into a height adjustable desk that you can make the perfect height for your body. Another solution is to get creative with your desk by placing some blocks under the legs to raise it up a bit. That should allow you to adjust your chair to an ergonomic height in relation to your desk surface.
If you're shorter, you'll find that your desk surface is too high. To combat the mismatch, the best thing to do is raise your seat height so that your elbows are at 90 degrees, and then add a footrest under your feet so that they are flat and your thighs rest comfortably on your seat. Presto! Your desk is on the path do being more body friendly!