Ergonomics QUICKGuide

Don’t let your mouse become a trap for injury

Hold the mouse loosely with your fingers.  Pivot at the elbow rather than the wrist, and use your arm and shoulder to move the mouse.  Avoid lifting your fingers off the mouse as this can create strain on your forearm muscles.  If you use your mouse more than 50% of the time at work, you may want to consider an ergonomic mouse.

Set up your work surface ergonomically

Your monitor should be about arm’s length away with the top of the monitor at eye level.  Your keyboard and mouse should be on the same surface, and keep commonly used items within reach.  Wrist rests are recommended for keyboards, but not for the mouse.  The biggest surprise for many: put your phone on the opposite side of the mouse.

Body posture matters

Starting from the top, your shoulders should be down and relaxed.  Keep forearms parallel to the ground, with wrists straight and elbows close to your trunk.  The goal is to avoid reaching for the mouse.  Moving to the lower body, your knees should be at 90 degrees with your thighs parallel to the ground.  Place your feet flat on the floor or use a footrest to get to that magic 90 degree angle for knees and hips.

Check that chair

Adjust the lumbar support, if your chair has that feature, to match the natural curve of your lower back.  When sitting in your chair, you should be able to fit 2-3 fingers between the back of your kneecaps and the seat edge.  Armrests should be adjusted so your shoulders can be down and relaxed, rather than pushed upwards.

Type like a pianist

Float your wrists like you are playing the piano.  If you are more comfortable planting your wrists against a surface, we recommend getting a gel-like keyboard pad.  When you are going to be typing for a period of time, center your body on the space bar and avoid contact with a sharp desk edge.

Stretch it out

Take frequent breaks to stretch – a good guideline would be stretching every 20-30 minutes.  Pump your shoulders, wrists and hands to bring relief to muscles that have been statically holding you in position while you are at your desk.

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  • Susan Unger, OTR/L, CEAS

    “Try to be more proactive in your life and less reactive. Safety is defined as freedom from harm that we could have prevented! So…get up and do something about it!”

    More about this expert

  • Kevin Wall, M.D., M.P.H.

    “Injuries at work benefit from the same sports medicine approach as those which occur at home or on the field of play. I focus on a plan of care that restores function and gets the employee back to their normal work duties as soon as possible.”

    More about this expert

  • John Kipp, M.D.

    “I treat injured employees as I would injured athletes — I help them get back to normal as rapidly as possible without de-conditioning.”

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