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Healthy Computing Tip # 441: Desk Height

Are you reaching up to a high keyboard? In order to sit correctly to type and mouse are your feet dangling from a chair that is too high? Working at a keyboard that is too high may contribute to neck, shoulder and arm tension. Make the furniture fit you instead of you fitting the furniture, and reduce tension when you change the desk height.

How to Change the Desk Height:

Begin by checking your position at the keyboard. Let your upper arms hang straight down, bend your elbows at about 90 to 110 degrees, and keep your forearms and wrists level as you extend your fingers to the keyboard. If you cannot sit that way because the keyboard is too high, then change your keyboard height.

  • The best option is to lower the surface upon which the keyboard is sitting. Cut a few inches from the legs of the table or install an adjustable keyboard tray beneath the desktop (be sure it does not bounce).

  • Raise the height of your body so that your arms are in the correct position. Usually this requires raising the height of the seat of your chair (pillows work well). Raising your chair height often leads to dangling feet. Purchase or create a footrest so that your feet can rest easily on  that surface (telephone books are useful for this purpose).

Regardless how you change the ergonomic situation, take charge and listen to your own body. Check in with your body throughout the day to observe unnecessary tension when typing and mousing. Become proactive! Stop your shoulders from inching upward. Relax your neck, shoulders and arms. Integrate breaks and movements into your computing routine by taking micro-breaks every minute (e.g., drop your  hands to your lap at every opportunity, such as at the end of a paragraph or when waiting for the computer to process your input), and get up from the desk and walk around. Remember, human beings are made for movement, not immobility.


The Institute for Holistic Healing Studies and Human Resources sponsor the distribution of Healthy Computing Email Tips. Copyright 2009 Erik Peper, Ph.D. and Katherine Hughes Gibney. Permission to copy and distribute Healthy Computing Email Tips for personal use is granted. Distribution or copying of Healthy Computing Email Tips for commercial purposes is prohibited without prior written consent of the copyright holders.
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