Postural load during VDU work: a comparison between various work postures

Ergonomics. 1997 Nov;40(11):1255-68. doi: 10.1080/001401397187496.


The aim of this study was to compare the postural load during VDU work in the following work postures: (1) Supporting and not supporting the forearms on the table top, (2) Sitting and standing positions, and (3) Sightline to the centre of the screen at an angle of 15 degrees and 30 degrees below the horizontal. The muscle load from the upper part of musculus trapezius and from the lumbar part of musculus erector spinae (L3 level) was measured by electromyography (EMG). Postural angles of head, upper arm and back were measured by inclinometers. The load on m. trapezius when using the keyboard was significantly less in sitting with supported forearms compared to sitting and standing without forearm support. Further, the time and number of periods when the trapezius load was below 1% MVC was significantly greater with support versus no support. The load on the right erector spinae lumbalis was also significantly less and the time when the load was below 1% MVC was significantly longer in a sitting work position with support versus standing without support. In addition, when using a mouse supporting the forearms reduced the static trapezius load in sitting. The results from this study document clearly the importance of giving the operator the possibility of supporting the forearms on the table top.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Back
  • Computer Terminals*
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology*