Posture Perfection: Achieving an Ergonomic Desktop Computer Setup

Written by Victoria Bonin

Home/Low Back, Middle back, Neck/Achieving an Ergonomic Desktop Computer Setup

“Your best posture is your next one”

This saying is all about movement. The human body is made to move. As human beings, our bodies are not made to stay still in the same position for hours. However, most jobs nowadays require you to work at a desk.
This guide will show you how to adapt your setup and posture at your desk but keep in mind that you should get up, move around and stretch at least every 30 minutes, and maintain physical activity on a regular basis.

“Prevention is better than cure”

It is also essential to keep in mind that you should not wait until you experience pain before achieving a good posture. This guide is not only for people experiencing pain, but a good tool to prevent any discomfort and pain.

How do you achieve a good setup for your desktop computer?

A good setup means that your body is in the most neutral position possible, reducing the pressure and tension on your joints and soft tissues (muscles, skin, tendons and ligaments).

What is the neutral sitting position?

  • The head is straight, looking at the screen.
  • The shoulders are relaxed, away from the ears.
  • The forearms and elbows are at the same level as the desk.
  • Tights are well supported by the chair
  • Your lower back is in contact with the chair, and the natural curves of the spine are respected.
  • The knees are bent at 90 degrees, legs are not crossed.
  • The feet are flat on the ground.

Working from home? Don’t forget to create a great work environment. Aside from your posture and your desk setup, you should also make sure to have:

  • Proper lightning. Working in a dark room with only the computer as a source of light aggravates the risk of headaches and eyestrain.
  • The thermal comfort. Make sure to work in a room with a nice warm temperature as working in a cold environment causes musculoskeletal chronic pain.
  • The noises. The HSE (Health & Safety Executive) recommends working in a quiet environment as the noises increase the stress level of workers.

What are the benefits of a good setup for your desktop computer?

The better your setup is, the better your posture. The posture is the way in which you hold your body while sitting, or standing. The “good posture” while sitting at your desk is also called the neutral position. By keeping this neutral position, you can avoid tension in the muscles and the joints.

A good setup is essential to maintain a good posture and therefore allows to reduce the tensions in the musculoskeletal system. While working long hours at a desk it is essential to have the most adapted set-up possible.

The benefits of a good setup are:

  • Reduce the risk of musculoskeletal conditions such as chronic back pain, and joint stiffness.
  • Reduce the risk of headaches.
  • Reduce the risk of eyesore and eyestrain.

What are the effects of a bad setup for your desktop computer?

A non-adapted setup can result in poor posture. If the setup is not adapted to you, your body will compensate and therefore leave the neutral position.

If you maintain a poor posture during long hours, you are more likely to experience the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Discomfort
  • Musculoskeletal conditions such as:
  • Lower back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Wrist and elbow tendinopathies
  • Stiffness and discomfort in the legs
  • Headaches
  • Low blood circulation
  • Eye strains
  • Reduced cognitive function

How do I keep a good posture at my desk?

There are a few rules and tips to follow to ensure that you keep a good posture at work.

  • Whenever you can think of it, try to correct your posture.
  • First, set up a reminder, as an example every hour, to correct your posture. After a few days and weeks, it will become a habit.
  • Try to establish habits, for example, “Every time I drink a sip of water, I correct my posture”
  • Keep some of your files and tools away from your desk. You will have to get up and walk to reach them, take advantage of this time to move around and stretch.
  • When you answer a phone call, why not stand up and walk while talking on the phone?
  • Make sure to have great lighting in the room, don’t work in a dark room.

If you share your office with coworkers, make sure that your setup has not been modified by someone else (height of the chair and screen).

What is the best chair setup for your desktop computer?

An ergonomic chair is the best chair setup you can use. It offers great back support, which aligns with the natural curves of the lower back. You can also adjust the height of the chair.
The seat of the chair must support your thighs.
The armrests must not be too high, you should be able to keep the shoulder low.

If you don’t have an ergonomic chair, or if your chair does not offer good back support, you could use a lumbar support cushion shaped to your spinal curves.

What is the best keyboard and mouse setup for your desktop computer?

There is no specific particular keyboard you should use, but here are a few rules to respect:

  • Use a mouse and a keyboard that allows you to keep the wrists straight.
  • Prioritize a setup with a separate and movable keyboard and mouse.
  • The keyboard should be placed just in front of you, at the same height as your elbows. This should allow you to keep the shoulder relaxed.
  • Keep a space in front of your keyboard to rest your wrists and hands when you are not typing.
  • Only your wrist and hands should be on the desk. If your forearm and elbows are resting on the desk, you are probably sitting too close to your screen.
  • If your keyboard is too high and not adjustable, you could use an ergonomic pillow and mouse mat to rest the wrist and limit the wrist extension.

What is the best monitor setup for your desktop computer?

About your screen, there are two parameters to consider.

  • The distance between your eyes and the screen: It has been proven that sitting too close to your screen causes eye strain, associated with discomfort. Don’t sit too close to your screen. To know if you sit too close to your computer, straighten your arm in front of you. If your fingers touch the screen you are too close. You should sit at least “one straight arm” away from your monitor.
  • The height of the screen: The centre of the screen should be aligned. Your head and neck should be straight, respecting the natural curve of the spine.

What is the best footrest setup for your desktop computer??

Using a footrest is a good way to maintain a neutral position.

In the sitting position, your feet should be in contact with the ground. If your chair is at the right height, meaning your feet touch the ground and your knees are bent at 90 degrees, then you probably don’t need a footrest.

If your chair is not adjustable and your feet don’t touch the ground, you should use a footrest to adjust your position. If the chair is too high, use a footrest to make sure that your knees are bent to 90 degrees. The footrest must offer good support to the sole of the feet.

It is known that a prolonged sitting position increases swelling in the lower extremities. A dynamic tiltable footrest is an interesting item to use if you suffer from poor blood circulation. The use of a dynamic footrest allows for mobilizing of the ankle joint, activating the vein pump and then helping to reduce leg swelling.

Do I need to go to the GP or visit my local hospital?

It is not necessary to go to the hospital if you experience musculoskeletal conditions.

If you experience discomfort, pain or stiffness, you could book an appointment with a medical professional to relieve tension and improve your mobility.


  • NHS Westminster and Chelsea Hospitals
    HSE GOV UK Health and Safety Executive
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