How to sit at your desk to avoid pain

Here are some guidelines to help you with your desk at chair set up at work and at home.

It's worth trying to get this right, or near enough, to avoid neck and back pain.

However, no matter how good your ergonomics, it is still very important to get up from sitting and move about regularly!

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 so that the backrest is touching the back of the buttocks and there is a small gap behind the knee while sitting
  • The backrest should be adjusted vertically so that the lumbar support is against the lumbar area
  • The seat should ideally have a stable base – 5 castor is the normal average
  • Elbow rests if present should be set so they support the elbow & forearm when the shoulder is relaxed & hanging at the side

computer 303129 640The 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 thigh 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:

  • Should be positioned with top edge just 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 trunk
  • Should not flicker
  • Should have glare control measures
  • Should be positioned to avoid reflecting lights/windows & be able to tilt

The keyboard:

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


  • Must be supplied for people who, when they are addressing the computer correctly, find their feet do not reach the floor i.e. if the chair height has had to be adjusted up to bring the forearms level with the desk surface.

By Lorraine Carroll MSc, BSc, MISCP

Chartered Physiotherapist


Running Injuries due to Wear and Tear
Manual Therapy from a Clinicians Perspective

Blog Archive

Professional Associations

Privacy | CookiesFAQ | Sitemap    © Mount Merrion Physiotherapy & Health