Yesterday, I did an ergonomic assessment for an employee at the hospital I work at and was reminded by how fun these assessments are. That aha! moment that people have when certain things are removed, or some things are moved over an inch or two, or some knobs are readjusted or tightened on their chairs is priceless. What a difference it can make. And none of these adjustments are hard!
Here are some general rules that apply not only to the workstation, but also to any environment you are in on a day-to-day basis. You can apply these when you're driving, cooking, studying, reading, etc.
If you're looking at a screen, a document, or a book, make sure the top of it is at eye level. Our gaze naturally tends to look down a slight bit, so having it any higher than eye level can cause neck and eye strain. Check out these inexpensive doc and book holders. Or try setting your laptop or book on a pillow to raise it.
If you're sitting in chair (at work, reading, writing, driving), make sure your feet are on the floor, the back of your knees are not touching the edge of the seat, and your shin and thigh make a 90-100 degree angle. Use a seat cushion or even a pillow to raise your seat up if the seat is too low. Use a stack of books or a trashcan turned on its side as a footrest if the seat is too high. For more info and suggestions on how to modify your environment, check out this old blog post, 90-90-90 Rule of Desktop Ergonomics.
Whether you're sitting or standing, if you're doing something on a counter or desk top, keep your shoulders relaxed and pulled back, and try to keep your upper arms and forearms at around 90 degree angles. If the counter is too low, you will feel back strain from bending down or from pulling your shoulders forward to compensate. If it's too high, the shoulders tend to creep up towards our ears. In latter case, either stand on a step stool, sit on pillows, or find a shorter surface.
Keep frequently used items within arm's reach from where you are sitting to avoid any excessive bending, twisting, or reaching.
Most importantly, keep moving.
Our bodies are not meant to stay in one position for long, so you will want to relax, stretch, or get up and move around every 30 minutes to an hour. Check out this old blog post about helpful (and some cute) computer timer apps that remind your to take a stretch break.