If you are an office worker who experiences symptoms such as sore hands and wrists or pain in the back and neck, a poorly designed or organized workstation may be to blame. You may be able to reduce your pain and/or prevent further problems by rearranging your area according to the principles of ergonomics.

The goal of ergonomics is to help you interact safely and efficiently with the objects you use. Your employer, who has a responsibility to provide you with a safe workplace, may have already applied ergonomics in designing the office area. If not, you can apply the following principles to your own workspace.

Computer 

To prevent eye strain, keep your monitor well-lit, but position the monitor and the light source in relation to one another so that the screen does not reflect the glare. To avoid tilting your head up to look at your monitor, place it at eye level or slightly lower, about one arm’s length away.

Your keyboard and mouse should be on the same level and within easy reach. Prolonged use of the mouse can cause pain all along the upper extremity. You can reduce the risk by switching your mouse to the other side of your keyboard and using your other hand.

Chair

If your chair has armrests, adjust them (if possible) so that your shoulders remain relaxed when you rest your arms on them. If your feet do not rest flat on the floor or on a footrest, adjust the chair’s height. The chair should support the curves of your spine.

Desk

Storing items under your desk reduces the room you have for your feet, legs and knees, so you should avoid this if possible. Some desks are adjustable, but many are not, meaning that you must make other accommodations. Raise your chair and use a footrest for a desk that is too tall. You can raise a desk that is too short by placing sturdy blocks or boards underneath the legs until it reaches the desired height.

Your employer or human resources department may have more information about improving your ergonomics.