How to Improve Your Monitor, Keyboard and Mouse Ergonomic Set-Up
21 Jul 2021
Not long ago we shared a blog about the Do’s and Don’ts for your work from home ergonomic set up. We focused on two main components to setting up a perfect work station; the proper chair and desk. But what we didn’t get into, was the importance of the placement of the tools you are using. For example your computer monitor, keyboard and mouse. The placement of these tools can also have a positive or negative affect on your body. We are going to break that down for you here!
Before we get into things, it’s important to acknowledge that laptops have become a popular option for many people, especially those who move between home and office. However, laptops themselves are not very ergonomic. The main problem with laptops is that the screen and keyboard are attached together, making the best ergonomic placement of monitor to mouse impossible. While working with a laptop for short durations is okay, using one for longer periods of time will not do wonders for your body. However, there are things you can do to improve your ergonomic setup if you do use a laptop for long periods of time. We will be sure to outline those tips as we go!
Below we have 4 basic points to get you started with your system set-up:
- Have your monitor, keyboard and mouse facing towards you – This will allow your body to rest in a neutral position while working for prolonged periods of time.
- Position the mouse and keyboard at elbow height – Once again, this will allow the shoulders to sit in a relaxed position at your sides. This will avoid any awkward, held postures over long periods of time that can lead to injury.
- Place the mouse and keyboard close to the front of the desk – Research suggests 5cm away from the front of your desk is the optimal position for your posture. Your mouse should be in line with the keyboard. This will allow you to have full visibility of your screen, reducing the need to rotate your head left and right.
- Rest your hands and wrists when typing – Become aware of your hands and wrists every 30 minutes or so and take a moment to relax and stretch. You should not be hovering above the keyboard.
While having your monitors and keyboards set-up correctly are very important to overall posture and health, there are still major differences between the set-ups for monitor & keyboard compared to those using a laptop. Let’s discuss them below.
Depending on how many monitors you use, you’ll need to place them in different positions on your desk. We have created a checklist of what you should always be doing regardless of how many monitors you use:
- Monitor placement should be at or slightly below eye level – When you are looking at the middle of your monitor, your eyes should be looking slightly downwards. If you find yourself bending your neck up and down or side to side, it’s time to adjust your monitor screen. If your monitor doesn’t have an adjustable height feature, we recommend propping your monitor up to achieve the right height. Adjustment of your chair will also help with correct positioning.
- Your monitor should be at least arms length away from you – This allows you to see the screen all at once, meaning you will reduce the amount of head and neck movement. If the screen is an arm’s length away, but you cannot see what is on the screen, text enlargement is your best friend. If you find yourself still too close to the monitor, bring the keyboard further away to achieve the right distance.
- Finally, try to avoid direct light onto the monitor – Regardless of how you tilt your screen, direct light onto the monitor screen will create a harsh glare that can be harmful to your eyes. We suggest having a light to the side of the screen for indirect lighting.
Which monitor and where?
One Monitor – Directly centered in front of you
Two Monitors – Line up your screens side by side so that there is no gap between them. They should meet in the midline of your sightline. Tilt the screens inwards slightly to create an angled inwards approach.
Three Monitors – The main monitor should be in the middle, the other two should be placed on either side of your centered monitor. They also should be angled slightly inwards with no gap between the three monitors
Laptop – When using a laptop, you should be using the same ergonomic set-up as you would with a monitor screen. This means propping up your laptop to bring the screen to your eye level. Of course, this makes it much harder to type, so we suggest investing in an external keyboard and mouse to go that extra mile to avoid injury.
Keyboard and Mouse
Placing your keyboard and mouse at elbow height is only the beginning of correct ergonomic set-up when using these external devices with your monitors and laptops. Below we have created a list of 5 tips to help you ensure you’re set-up for optimal performance:
- Have the mouse and keyboard positioned in front of you – Just like your monitor, your keyboard and mouse should also be centered to you. This will allow your shoulders to rest in a neutral position.
- Place the mouse and keyboard close to the front of your desk – We recommend placing your mouse and keyboard about 5 cm from the front edge of your desk. This will avoid any potential reaching, decreasing the risk of injury to your shoulders and upper back and neck.
- Rest your hands and wrists when you are not typing – We all do it, the keyboard hover. When you are not typing, try to rest your hands and wrists on the table or place them in your lap. This will avoid any tension through your shoulders, elbows and wrists as they hover. Try to be aware of your arms every 30 minutes or so and relax without hovering over the keyboard
- Avoid using your laptop keyboard and trackpad – Using a laptop stand and external keyboards and mouse will greatly reduce your risk of injury.
Final Take Away
Having the correct set-up that can be adjusted to your body and your work needs is of utmost importance when considering your health and well-being. Many people were ill-prepared for this switch and did not expect to be in these conditions for as long as we have. That being said, it is never too late to reconsider your home office set-up and ensure that it is set-up for YOU.
Experiencing aches and pains? Book an appointment at Natural Choice Medical Clinic in Guelph to get help from one of our talented practioners!
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