Tap to Read ➤

All About Computer Ergonomics: Office Chairs, Keyboard, and Mouse

Rita Putatunda Jun 18, 2019
Computer ergonomics, also referred to as office ergonomics, is about incorporating ergonomically created office chairs, keyboards, mice, etc, designed for maximum comfort.
In today's office environment, involving sitting at the computer for long hours, ergonomics has become a necessity, especially in preventing conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), headaches, shoulder pain, neck pain, back pain, and so on, due to badly designed furniture like office chairs, and computer accessories like keyboards and mice.
The expressions 'office ergonomics' and 'computer ergonomics' are usually used interchangeably, and they generally refer to ergonomic office chairs, keyboards, keyboard trays, mice, desks, stools, and so on. Hence, this has made the term 'ergonomics' an integral part of office nomenclature.

Office Chairs

One of the most important items of office ergonomics is the chair.
Obviously, since people have to sit on the office chair every day, for most of the day, it has to not only be comfortable, but also ergonomically designed. Such chairs help to protect your lower back by providing support to the lumbar region. Plus, they are designed in such a way as to allow you to place your feet solidly on the floor while you sit on it.
Apart from adequate back support, these chairs usually come with adjustable height and five legs for stability.
The seat usually has a depth of about 17-20 inches, with a slight downward slope, the front edge rounded, and the ability to tilt 3 degrees forward or 4 degrees backwards. The lumbar support in the backrest is usually adjustable to 5-10 inches from the seat, retaining the spine's natural 'S' curve. 
While seated fully back in an ergonomic chair, the lumbar region should make contact with the backrest, with the feet resting flat on the floor. The ideal sitting posture is upright, the hips positioned at a 90 degree angle, and the arms being able to hang naturally at the sides.
Armrests are generally optional and adjustable. If they impede close access to the desk, the armrests should be removed. While sitting on the chair, the hands should be in the same line as the forearms, so that the wrists are straight when the fingers are on the keyboard's front row.
Executive chairs are usually designed with upholstered armrests and backrests. They usually also have a comparatively higher backrest.

Keyboards and Mouse

A keyboard and a mouse are used for most interactions with the computer.
When the keyboard and mouse are used for long stretches, especially with the hands placed at an awkward posture, i.e., bent to the side, down, or up, it can lead to musculoskeletal disorders that are painful, like carpal tunnel syndrome, tenosynovitis, and tendonitis. Hence, nowadays these devices are available in various ergonomic designs.
Ergonomic keyboard designs that are available are rotated, curved, and split. These keyboards have adjustable height as well as tilt, so that the user can try out various heights and angles of tilt to find out which position is most comfortable.
As for the mouse, the important considerations to be taken into account are the shape as well as where the mouse is placed relative to the keyboard. Some mice are equipped with programmable buttons, so that the mouse can be used to control a few computer functions. 
The following are some of the features that an ergonomic mouse should have:
  • The shape and size of the mouse should fit comfortably in the hand.
  • You should have the ability to hold the mouse in a neutral position, i.e., your hand should not be bent at any awkward position.
  • The mouse should be placed in such a way so that it can be used with your upper arm comfortably relaxed, and as near your body as possible, and without you having to reach towards the side or forwards for it.
To enable this, the numeric pad is separate in some computer keyboards, thus allowing the mouse to be located nearer the keyboard. Some keyboards also have features like a touchpad, touchpoint, or trackball, which reduces the need for using the mouse as frequently.