Proper Monitor Height for a Pain-Free Workday

Sore muscles, headaches, eye strain, and discomfort.  These are just some of the feelings we all experience after a long day at our desk.  But this doesn't have to be the case.  Simple adjustments to your office can help relieve these symptoms.  You'll notice a difference by just by setting the proper monitor height and positioning for your computer screen.

We sometimes spend so much time deciding on furniture and appearance of our office.  And it’s true that these things improve mood and productivity.  However, it's useless if you aren't comfortable and pain-free at your desk. 

Most offices don’t provide workers with an ergonomic set-up, but this isn’t done on purpose.  It's actually because there's a lack of knowledge on the importance of ergonomics at work (and at home).  This is where we come in!

Below we talk about how simple tweaks to ergonomic monitor height, monitor viewing angles, distance from monitors, and posture can immediately help relive pain.

How to Improve Your Overall Posture:  From the Bottom Up

Before diving in to specifics on the best monitor height for your office, let's touch on the basics. Here are a few tips to improve your comfort with simple body adjustments.

  1. Feet:  Keep your feet flat on the floor.  The rest of your posture will have a base from which to build.  
  2. Legs: Bend your knees at a right angle.  Bending further than this adds unnecessary stress to your joints.
  3. Hips:  Balance your hips.  DO NOT cross your legs.  This is a common mistake that can lead to serious issues down the road.  
  4. Back: We promise we’re not trying to sound like a strict teacher, but…SIT UP STRAIGHT!  Utilize an office chair with lumbar support to prevent lower back pain.
  5. Head and Neck: Look straight ahead and don’t bend your neck.  The amount of stress that bending and turning your neck adds might surprise you.  Our advice on monitor stand placement will address this specific issue and more.

Correct Monitor Height

The height of the monitor(s) in your office determines the daily stress you put on your neck.  Any issue with the neck is no laughing matter. These issues cause pain that can affect the quality of your work.  This can range from throbbing headaches to pain in your back.

In order to avoid those, you'll want to place your monitors at the ideal monitor height.  This means minimizing the amount you move your neck by looking up or down.

correct monitor height

The majority of the time on your computer is spent looking at the top of your screen.  Open tabs, URL bars, and the beginning of emails are all towards the top of your screen. 

You should be positioned so your eyes are 2 to 3 inches below the top of your monitor.  This allows you to view most of your monitor without having to tilt your head.  It also lets you read everything else by moving only your eyes.  

Monitor Viewing Angle

To stress importance of monitor placement, we’ve created an entire section for monitor viewing angles.  As we’ve said, it's important to reduce strain on your neck by limiting movement of your head. 

Tilting your head as little as 15 degrees adds nearly 30 pounds of pressure to your spine!

Once your monitor is at the correct height, there are steps you can take to prevent further head movement. 

If you have a monitor that can be angled up and down (most can), tilt the monitor down as much as possible.  Make sure you can still see your screen before completing your adjustment.  Tilting your monitor this way will decrease the viewing area of the screen. In turn, this will limit the head movement needed to see your screen.

If using a dual monitor set-up, make sure your main monitor is placed in front of your keyboard.  This will keep it centered so you aren’t turning your head all day. 

Additionally, angle each of your monitors inwards.  Place their inside edges against each other to minimize the width of your set-up.  Following these steps will limit the side-to-side motion of your head.  

Distance Between You and Your Monitor

The distance between you and your monitor is the final factor to consider to prevent chronic pain.   Sitting too close to your monitor causes eyestrain and has been linked to many issues.  These include headaches, neck pain, and even nearsightedness.  Sitting too far from your monitor has similarly been linked to eyestrain and headaches.

It’s a good rule to sit an arm’s length distance from your monitor.  If you have a monitor that is larger than 20 inches from corner-to-corner, move the monitor further away. 

For exact changes, move it 12 inches away for every 7 additional inches of screen size.  Final monitor depth will differ slightly from user to user and is dependent on factors such as vision.  The most important thing is that you should be able to view your monitor without squinting or turning your head.

Monitor Height Solutions

Monitor Stands

A single monitor riser or dual monitor stand

stand for ideal monitor height

  • Height Adjustment:  When your chair is set to the correct height, it is likely your monitor will be positioned too low.  Monitor stands give you the ability to raise your monitors to a level that is ideal for your sight line.  Many stands provide the ability to make adjustments to the height to make sure it is suited to your needs.  
  • Usable Desk Space:  One added benefit of monitor stands is that they add usable desk space – up to 50 % in some cases.  They lift your monitors above the surface of your desk, making that surface available to use as you please.  
  • Visual Benefits:  Monitor stands can also be a visually appealing option to improve aesthetics and impress customers and visitors.   The visual improvement will depend on the monitor stand quality. Our advice is to invest in a high-quality monitor stand that showcases high grade materials such as real wood and stainless steel.  
  • Single and Dual Set-ups:  Monitor stands are versatile since they can provide you with space for any number of monitors.  There are stands commercially available for single monitor and dual monitor set-ups.  If you find yourself changing the number of monitors you are using, you can get multiple single monitor stands for your desired set-up.

Monitor Arms or Mounts

  • Height Adjustment:  Monitor arms that attach to the back of your desk give you the ability to easily adjust the height of your monitors.    Though they require work to install, they are helpful if you need to move and adjust your monitors to show other people. Monitor arms usually allow you to move your monitors in multiple directions.
  • Usable Desk Space: Monitor mounts also provide the benefit of opening space on your desk.  While they aren’t as visually appealing, they allow you to use 100% of your desk surface.
  • Single and Dual Set-ups: This is another feature that is shared between monitor stands and monitor mount arms.  There are products available for both single and dual monitor set ups.

Position Your Monitors and Your Body to Rid Yourself of Pain

A poor ergonomic office set-up is an easily avoidable source of discomfort.  If you are experiencing daily pain - follow all of the advice given above. 

If you aren’t experiencing daily pain and you want to keep it that way - follow all of the advice given above!  Whenever you are making positive changes, sooner is always better than later.

Adjust your posture as necessary and focus on your feet, knees, elbows, back, and neck.  Remain conscious of how you are positioned throughout the day.  Eventually, your newly improved posture will become a habit.

We can’t stress enough how setting up your office to achieve ergonomic efficiency will get rid of pain.  Concentrate on the position of your furniture, adjust your chair settings, and get a monitor stand before you find yourself wishing you had made these changes sooner.

The Office Oasis

Written by The Office Oasis