Desk Ergonomics

How to Choose An Ergonomic Computer Desk

Desk Ergonomics: How do I choose an ergonomic computer desk? Learning about computer desk ergonomics may sometimes mean all you need is a little adjustment to what you already have.

More than half desk-bound office workers have the wrong desk.

Well not wrong, but less than perfect. Which is the root cause of back aches, neck aches etc.

If you are wondering what the fuss is about an ergonomic computer desk, you've come to the right place..

computer desk ergonomics
Image from

What exactly is Desk Ergonomics?

Desk ergonomics is the study of adjusting our desks to the natural use of our bodies. It is certainly not natural for us to hold our arms out (even if it is resting on the keyboard) for hours and hours, just as it is strange for us to be looking down at a 45 degree angle, at our laptop screens.

Our bodies were made to vary in movement. To look up sometimes, down, left and right. It is not meant to be in an 'awkward' (read - unnatural) position for hours at end.

When working at our desk, we naturally adjust our bodies to the fixed mass of goods - your desk, your non height adjustable chair and monitor etc. That's because we're adaptable. It is easier for us to move our bodies than to 'move' and adjust our equipment.

That is precisely why we suffer long term consequences and musculoskeletal disorders, poor posture, carpal tunnel, poor eye sight, forward neck syndrome etc.

Ergonomic Desk: Why A desk is Not Just A Desk

An ergonomic desk helps you attain a proper posture at a computer.

They reduce the risk of developing back aches, shoulder pain etc.

Of course, there are more components to an ergonomic workstation that we'll need to consider as well.

Desk Ergonomics - Common 'mistakes'

  • Some desks are too small.

  • Too Cluttered

  • When the computer is not placed directly in front of the worker, causing the worker to twist his/her body or neck. Repeated twisting of head and upper body is hazardous.

  • The size of the desk (width) has affected the user from sitting too far or too near the screen.

  • If the desk has no space to accommodate the cpu and is placed on top of it, it might be too high, causing neck strain from looking up for long periods.

  • If it is used on a laptop (which is not recommended for long use), the user has to look down, causing neck strain at the back of the neck.

  • If the desk is used interchangeably by many users

  • Clutter below the desk affects the movement and placement of the users' legs.

  • For shiny desks, there is the issue of glare affecting the user.

  • Computer Desk Ergonomics

    Apply these computer desk ergonomics tips today:

    Choose a desk that has a matte finish, this will help reduce the glare which in turn creates less stress on the eyes. When purchasing your desk, make sure the height allows for your hands to be able to type on a keyboard without having to reach, or be raised above the waist.

    In some cases this will require an addition of a keyboard tray under the desk. You should be able to comfortably sit at the desk, feet flat on the ground, knees bent at 90 degrees, and hands at the waist while being able to work on the computer.

    You should also make sure to keep the desk above and below uncluttered, to ensure that you don't have to reach to far to get something you use on a regular basis, and to make sure your feet can comfortably rest instead of having to squeeze them in somewhere.

    A big problem I had, I realized I've been sitting too far away from my computer screen, so I was straining my eyes to read all day long without even realizing it. Sometimes this happens with very wide desks and you unknowingly position your screen too far back. You can also consider enlarging the fonts of your screen. See also Computer Posture.

    desk ergonomics
    Image via

    Desk might be too high for you.

    How to Apply Desk Ergonomics

    First of all, check to see if the height of your desk is appropriate for you. If your arms are bent to less than 90 degrees when typing, the desk is too high for you. Adjust your desk height by its legs or adjust the height of your chair.

    Then check if your feet are touching the ground. Remember, maintain a 90 degree angle for your knees too. If not, use a foot stool to obtain a proper sitting position.

    I know this is sort of out of the scope of Desk Ergonomics, but they are related. You can't just understand desk ergonomics and not pay attention to Chair ergonomics.

    If you are relatively tall, you'll probably find the need for a taller desk. Remember, the extra height is so that the hands are positioned properly when working at the computer.

    P.s. Your choice of ergonomic chair influences the ideal arm position, which is an 90 degree angle when you are typing.

    The whole goal of ergonomic computer desks are to alleviate the strain sitting at it for hours at a time.

    Shopping For An Ergonomic Computer Desk

    1) Take into account of your ideal arm position when sitting at the desk

    2) When buying a desk, consider also the kind of chair ergonomic hopefully, that will go with it.

    3) Consider if a keyboard tray under the table as well, if your knees and arm angles are right.

    4) If your desk comes with a built in foot rest, check if they are in ideal position.

    5) Otherwise, consider a foot rest along with your ergonomic desk purchase.

    6) Choose a desk that has a matte finish

    Varieties of Ergonomic Computer Desks

    ergonomic desks
    3-Leg Hand Crank Adjustable Ergonomic Computer Desk from

    There are also many other varieties and features or ergonomic computer desks. They come in long and narrow shapes, L-shapes, keyboard tray feature. The desks are sometimes "cut" in to allow you to sit a little closer more comfortable distance. You have ergonomic desks built with a platform for multiple screens as well as ergonomic desks built for short term, standing use.

    The variety of ergonomic desks are catered to individuals depending on how they work. Don't worry if you are about to choose an ergonomic desk, just follow the principles above and you'll be fine.

    If you don't have a specific ergonomic table set up for work, for instance you work out of a laptop and you can work anywhere from the dining table to the coffee table, you could follow these principles of ideal ergonomic position (of your arms when working) or consider getting an ergonomic laptop desk.

    Thank you for reading 'Desk Ergonomics'!

    Go back to Ergonomic Computer Desk.

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