Pro Tips to Avoid Pain at Your Desk


When we think of pain from work, we usually think of hard labor jobs that require heavy lifting, standing for hours, or pounding nails. Desk jobs sound pretty “cushy” in comparison.

However, a 9-to-5 desk job can cause strain on your legs, elbows, wrists, back or neck. The human body wasn’t designed to sit hunched over a computer behind a desk all day. When you spend a good deal of your life in a cozy cubicle, pain can come from the way you sit.  Fortunately, with a few adjustments to your routine, you can help eliminate pains from a long day at the desk.

There’s all kinds of research to support incorporating a stand-up desk into your work place. But if  your employer won’t spring for it and you’re stuck with a traditional desk, here are some quick ergonomic tips that can help you work more comfortably:


  • 12218808_sPlace your computer monitor at arm’s length from your body to prevent neck strain.
  • The top of the monitor should be at or slightly below eye level.
  • Keep your head up, shoulders back, and be sure not to lean forward.


  • Adjust your chair to the proper height. The proper position for correct posture is to have your feet flat on the floor and your knees at a 90 degree angle.  Your knees should not be higher than your hips. If your feet are not flat, your chair is too high. If your feet are tucked under the chair casters, your chair is too low.
  • Make sure there are 2 to 3 inches of space between the back of your knees and the edge of your seat.
  • Use a chair with good lower back (lumbar) support for the normal curve in your back. For additional support you can use a lumbar roll, small pillow or a rolled up towel.


  • Hold your wrists in a neutral position when typing. Adjust the pegs of your keyboard until your wrists lay in a flat position and are not extended. Use wrist rests for extra support.

Shoulders and Elbows:

  • Keep your elbows relaxed and at a 90 degree angle.
  • Make sure your keyboard is within comfortable reach so that it is not too far or too close, causing an uncomfortable strain.
  • Keep your mouse close to the keyboard so you don’t have to reach too far off to the side when you need to access it.

Having a desk job should not cause undue discomfort. By making a few simple adjustments with these quick tips, you should be able to reduce unnecessary strain and help prevent pain from occurring in the future. However, if you do find yourself experiencing pain, seek help from one of Missoula’s best physical therapy clinics, Northern Rockies Physical Therapy.

Clay SpringmeyerClay Springmeyer is a Montana grown writer, musician, and Wilderness First Aid Instructor in Portland, OR. He studied Creative Writing and Wilderness Studies at the University of Montana.