Fixed postures associated with operating a computer may lead to musculo-skeletal complaints.  The major cause of associated headache and neck pain is the forward tilt of the head, which causes an increase in the static loading of the muscles at the back of your neck.

Poor head posture is caused by the following factors:

  • non-detachable keyboard, making individual adjustments impossible
  • no document holder – source documents lying flat, usually to the side of the operator
  • lack of arm support (most important and commonly overlooked).  The weight of the arms is transmitted to the upper shoulder musculature and trunk, causing a forward slump.
  • Improper chair design and chair fit
  • poor sitting habits

The key to comfort and good posture is a well-designed, adjustable work-station.

What can I do to prevent problems?

DO’S :

  • Desk top should be at elbow height.
  • Feet should touch the floor, and you should be able to move your legs in under the desk.
  • The small of your back should be supported.
  • Rest your arms or hands on the desk instead of your neck holding their weight.
  • Ensure that the screen is directly in front of you and that it is 10-15° below eye level.
  • Documents to be read should be at an angle  >45°.


  • Don’t lean over your desk or work for long periods of time
  • Don’t sit too far away from your work
  • Don’t lean away from your work while sitting as you will have to bend your neck forward into a stressful position to see
  • Don’t sit with your back unsupported

Remember to take a break every 30-45 mins and move your neck in all positions to relieve stress and tension.  Move away from the desk every 1-2 hours.

Disclaimer: These exercises are only to be done on the advice of and demonstration by your physiotherapist.
© Carolyn Fenwick Physiotherapists 2013

Work Station Setup


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