More people spend more time online than at any point in history. It’s a trend that will most likely increase due to the rapid advancement of technology. Gaming and typing have directly increased our time and activity in front of a computer monitor or laptop.
Due to the increased popularity of streaming, online gaming and online communication are as popular as ever. It has become a viable career for many worldwide, drawing international audiences.
With a good portion of workplaces shifting towards remote work, more employees will be able to customize their office area to their preference and comfort. This is not a one-size-fits-all scenario.
There are many reasons why one would spend time on the computer, but it can also lead to some neck and back problems if not treated correctly. Simple measures like adjusting your desk height while gaming and typing can save you from a lifetime of discomfort and health issues.
The Importance of Desk Height
Taking the initiative when it comes to ergonomics can start with one basic adjustment: desk height. You can choose to have a traditional desk with a chair, or you can join the new-age health movement and get a standing desk.
Regardless of your choice, your desk will be the foundation of your workplace (or place of play). It also, in a way, protects the temple that is your body. If you had your laptop actually on your lap or a similar setup for a prolonged amount of time, your neck would eventually feel like it was ready to detach itself.
Desk height is one of the important steps of ergonomics. It is just one of the ways to employ preventative measures that will protect your body from stress or muscle and joint strain. Without action, your long periods of gaming or typing can lead to muscle pain, stiffness, or even injury.
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What Should My Desk Height Be For Gaming and Typing?
The standard height for a desk is around 29 to 30 inches. The average male height is around 5’8” to 5’10”, and the most commonly seen desk height is designed to reflect that. However, that still doesn’t apply to many people who are taller or shorter than that tiny window.
When talking about desk height, there isn’t an exact measurement that coincides with the proportions of your body, but there are some instructions we can work with. First, place your hands on your keyboard and mouse. Your forearms should be level with your desk, and your elbows should be close to your torso. Together, your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle.
If that isn’t the case, you can fix this by adjusting your chair or desk (or both) to meet those standards. Having your forearms flush with your keyboard and mouse encourages good wrist health as well as overall ergonomics.
Other Considerations: Chair Height, Monitor Distance, Monitor Height
Realistically, the chair (if you plan on using one) is the first thing you’d want to adjust if you’re revamping your whole setup. If your chair isn’t providing your body with enough support, then the whole ergonomic concept will be an uphill battle.
Since your body is the one we’re dealing with here, making sure everything else adjusts to it makes more sense than vice-versa. As for its positioning, your chair should allow for some specific parameters.
Your feet should be touching flat down on the ground. It should not be dangling off the chair as if you’re using a bar chair. Having your feet planted counteracts the weight on the chair and prevents a lack of blood circulation in your thighs.
Now that you’re ten toes down, similar rules apply to the rest of your lower body. Your ankles and feet should make a 90-degree angle. In conjunction, your legs should be at a 90-degree angle as well. One general rule of thumb is that your thighs will not round at that angle.
Monitor height may be overlooked when it comes to chair and desk height, but it is equally as important. Everyone naturally adjusts to the former, and the latter is becoming more noteworthy. However, monitors already come semi-adjusted for people to look straight ahead.
However, if you need to elevate a laptop or your monitor still needs further specialization, we go by a simple parameter. Considering the chair and desk height, your monitor should raise enough so your eyes are centered on the top third of the screen.
So keep in mind that your head needs to be perfectly level, looking straight ahead. Your monitor should mirror your posture as well, not at an angle pointing up or downwards.
Last but not least, your monitor should be an arm’s length away from your face. Similar to what your parents taught you when watching television, you shouldn’t be too near to your screen. It should be a foot and a half away at max too. Either extreme could lead to eye strain.
Supplemental Ergonomic Recommendations
We can’t just stop there! Now that you know where everything needs to be, you need to make it happen–and that can’t always happen without some proper accessories.
These add-ons (except for maybe the standing desk) are not very expensive, and their health benefits are well worth it.
Another positive of adding these items is that each product has so many variations on the market. That means you have a wide selection available and can customize your space how you see fit.
For example, take all these Twitch streamers; they have a specific aesthetic going for them while remaining incredibly comfortable.
To help you get started, let’s check out some of these items that will ensure your ergonomic metrics are in tip-top shape.
If you’ve heard the phrase “sitting is more dangerous than smoking” before, you understand that standing desks are not to be taken lightly. Studies have shown that sitting for long periods can increase the chances of chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, or even certain cancers.
It’s very serious, we understand. However, this article is based on optimizing your health in the digital age. There’s nothing that goes more hand in hand with the digital age than sitting.
This line of thinking may have sparked the development of the mighty standing desk. Of course, standing desks have been around for quite a while now. Their customizability usually means that they are a little bit on the pricier side, but all the health benefits seem worthwhile.
If you want to focus on the positives, then standing desks do a lot of good for the body. Sitting naturally burns fewer calories than standing. Standing instead of sitting adds up if you do it for every gaming sesh or essay write-up; tremendous for people with weight issues or diabetes.
While standing instead of sitting sounds tiring, you can treat it like resistance training. Conditioning yourself to withstand prolonged periods of standing improves your back strength.
One pro-tip for beginners is that getting a pad or soft rug to stand on helps. Getting used to standing on top of a sturdy surface takes longer to ease into.
In our experience, we’ve even seen some standing desk die-hards attach a treadmill to multiply those benefits. Reaching your 10,000 steps daily doesn’t seem like such a challenge with that at your disposal.
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Sometimes, the whole PC setup is not suitable for some. It can be better for those that really hardcore game, but laptops are more versatile for those that travel. Of course, you sacrifice the increased power and memory (among other things), but the convenience is worth it for some.
Those who game and work—like us—on their laptops know that the laptop stand is a must-buy. Adjusting your laptop height to complement your posture will help open your neck and spine. Laptops have flat bottoms, and craning your neck to look at the monitor is a no-go.
Even if the stand does not extend much by itself, it has more potential than a non-adjustable chair. If it’s too short, placing some larger books under the stand will elevate the laptop to your desired height.
As previously mentioned, an adjustable chair could be on the top of your office or computer room necessities list. It might even be more crucial than the desk itself. Making sure that your legs, knees, and toes all zig-zag the right way is mandatory in maintaining your posture.
If it’s not possible or if you already have a non-adjustable chair, you can stick something under the chair legs to boost your height (if that’s what you need).
When it comes to your upper body, your chair’s armrests also fulfill a role. Not every chair is adjustable and has adjustable armrests, but that’s another huge plus. It can reinforce your forearms to strike that 90-degree angle at all times, but it can also allow your shoulders to rest.
Specifically, your armrests can be lower than or flush with the level of your table. Armrests themselves are not totally necessary all the time, as long as your shoulders are relaxed and not scrunched up towards your ears.
Wrist rests can be beneficial if you type or game—or a combination of the two—often.
Those who type often can either float their wrists to move around the keyboard (those who code, use a lot of keyboard shortcuts, etc.). Writers and bloggers, like us, can do that. However, more often than not, our wrists stay in one spot.
Depending on what games you play, you tend to keep your hands in one place on top of a hard surface. Plenty of games require you to have a hand on the W-A-S-D keys and the other on the mouse, which is even more stationary.
Whatever the scenario, note whether or not your wrists are often lower than your fingers. If that is the case, that is something to address as it can cause your wrists to get achy.
In some cases, those wrist positions create an imbalance in your top and bottom forearm muscles. The imbalance increases the likelihood of inflammation, numbness, and carpal tunnel.
This is where the wrist rests come in. They can be beneficial in reducing strain as they keep them more neutral and balanced with the keyboard and mouse.
Believe it or not, the wrists could use even more support. Rather than apply an elevated cushion under the wrists, split keyboards look like someone forced a clean karate chop through a standard keyboard. Other ones look like a thick, curved boomerang.
What’s the deal with this product design? It helps those gamers and workaholics to angle the keyboards towards their respective forearms.
There are probably some varieties on the market that combine both the split keyboard and wrist rests into one product. That’s an ergonomic one-two punch we’d be interested in.
- READ ALSO: Fastest Gaming Keyboards
Preserve Your Posture, Properly
If we learned anything in this article, we learned that optimizing your desk height if you’re frequently gaming and typing. Unfortunately, it’s not unheard of for people that regularly partake in these activities to experience problems, whether it be their neck or back.
And while desk height is an important factor, the whole setup is important in protecting your body. You only get one body, so be sure to treat it right when you’re sitting (or standing) in front of your monitor.
We also listed some additional items to help you maximize your ergonomic foundation. So not only do you treat your upper body right, but you also get to accessorize and soup up your setup.
Now that you have everything you could possibly need to encourage good posture, you have to keep it up. It may be uncomfortable at times but making it a point of emphasis will benefit your body in the long run.
That said, sitting for long periods still isn’t the best for your body. You must treat your body right by stretching and taking frequent breaks away from the computer. Doing so will save your body from reduced mobility and range of motion.