Do you ever finish your work day with a sore neck or tense muscles? Whether you use one or two monitors, a laptop or a tablet, proper positioning of these screens can make a world of a difference.
As occupational therapists (OT), we are often asked to complete ergonomic assessments to optimize comfort and ensure proper positioning at various workstations. However, there’s no need to continue having a sore neck or tense muscles and wait for an OT to come adjust your monitors when you can do it yourself!
Reconfiguring the work environment
We all know what “not to do” when sitting at our workstations. For example, we know that we should not slouch, cross our legs, sit in our chairs all day, etc.
However, knowing what “to do” and putting it into practice is easier said than done. In this article, we will focus on providing education on how your screens should be positioned at your workstation to avoid increasing neck strain and/or tense muscles.
On average, it takes approximately two months for a new behavior to become automatic, so remember to be kind to yourself while you learn new healthy work habits.
Please ask yourself the following questions when looking at the position of your computer/laptop/tablet screen:
Do I have one or two monitors? If I have one monitor, I need to place it directly in front of me. If I have two monitors and I use them equally (50/50), I need to place the monitors next to each other at a slight angle (V shape), and where they meet should be directly in front of me. If I have two monitors and I use one more than the other (80/20), I need to position the primary monitor directly in front of me, with the second one positioned to the side at about a 30-degree angle to the primary monitor.
When I look at my screen(s), is the top third of the screen(s) in my direct line of vision? The monitor height should allow the neck to be neutrally positioned when looking at the top row of text on the screen.
Is/are my screen(s) approximately an arm’s distance away from me?
Is/are my screen(s) positioned to avoid glare (i.e. perpendicular to a window)?
By answering those four questions, you should be able to adjust your monitors independently with the ultimate goal of reducing unnecessary neck strain and/or tense muscles.
Developing repetitive stress injuries
Computers have completely changed the way work is done. Since most of the physical work has been eliminated, people now sit for long periods of time in static positions, which increases the risk of developing repetitive strain injuries or musculoskeletal disorders.
If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:
Aches or pain
Loss of strength
Redness or swelling of area
Numbness or tingling sensations
Especially in your lower back, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, head or eyes, it may be time to consult a healthcare professional. A Lifemark occupational therapist can perform a full assessment of your work environment and identify potential improvements to keep you safe.
If you’d like to consult a Lifemark clinician, check out our Locations page to find a clinic near you or book online to schedule an appointment at a Lifemark clinic near you.