Optimising your Desk Ergonomics

Here I have provided some guidelines on optimising your chair, desk, and PC set up at work and at home.

It is worth trying to get this right, or near enough, to help avoid neck and back pain. However, no matter how good your ergonomics, it is still essential to get up from sitting and move about regularly. There is also the option to combine sitting with the use of a standing desk.

The chair:

  • The seat should be at knee level or just above or below it.
  • The backrest should be slightly tilting backwards.
  • The backrest should be adjusted horizontally, i.e. forwards/backwards (depending on the chair) so that the backrest is touching the back of the buttocks and there is a small gap behind the knee.
  • The backrest should be adjusted vertically, so the lumbar, i.e lower back support, is against the lumbar area.
  • The seat should ideally have a stable base – 5 castors are the typical average.
  • Elbow rests if present should be set so they support the elbow & forearm when the shoulder is relaxed.
  • The elbow rests should not interfere with being able to pull the chair well in towards the desk.
  • With the chair pulled in, the forearms should be supported by the desk with the elbows bent at a right angle by the side. A cushioned forearm support can be used to improve the wrist’s position when using the keyboard.


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The desk:

  • Should have adequate space for equipment and to be able to write etc.
  • Should not give off reflections.
  • Should be thin enough to allow the thighs easy access under the desk.
  • Equipment on the desk should be within easy reach.
  • A document holder may be used beside the computer.

The screen:

  • The top edge should be positioned below eye level (15-degree drop to the centre of the screen).
  • Postural care is needed if using a tablet/phone device.
  • Should be approximately an arm's length from the body.
  • Should not flicker.
  • Should have glare control measures.
  • Should be positioned to avoid reflecting lights or windows & be able to tilt if needed.

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The keyboard:

  • Should be able to tilt.
  • Should not give off a glare.
  • Should be positioned to allow direct straight on access by the fingers to the home row.


  • A footrest should be supplied for people who, when they sit at the computer correctly, find their feet do not reach the floor, i.e. if the chair height has to be adjusted to bring the forearms level with the desk surface.

If you have any questions or are struggling with desk and PC related neck, shoulder, elbow or back pain, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

By Simon Coghlan MSc, BScPhysio, DipMedAc

Chartered Physiotherapist


Image by fancycrave1 from Pixabay


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