Standing versus sitting: there’s an argument for both when it comes to the management of your back or joint pain. Research supports that standing is better than sitting. But if you’re going to sit, here’s how to do it properly.
The perfect chair is different for every body. A one-size fits all approach will never work with furniture. In a perfect world each item in the house will grow or shrink for each person who uses it. But, if you are prepping for eight hours of the work day in a chair it better be right to help you avoid strain injuries that can cause you a lifetime of pain. All good retailers will allow you to trial a chair before making the expensive purchase.
An adjustable chair is the best choice for ergonomics. Use the height levers so you can sit with your feet firmly planted on the ground with knees bent at a comfortable right-angle. Every morning when you sit back down check the height. You never know if someone may have borrowed it, or the affect a different pair of shoes will have on your posture. If you’re wearing high heels the seat will need to raised for your knees to achieve a 90 degree angle.
When you are sitting on a seat that is adjusted to the correct height, you should be able to slide comfortably under the desk – no hitting your knees on the tabletop and no reaching up like a kid at the grown ups table. Hopefully, you have a desk that is height adjustable. A lot of office furniture is affixed with a lever that allows it to be raised and lowers with a few turns to make it perfect for you. If your workplace only has fixed furniture, it is worth raising with management because everyone’s long term health can suffer by repeated use of badly designed furniture.
In these days of laptops and double screens it is common to see people straining their necks, eyes and torsos to do their work instead of sitting correctly. All you need to do is align your monitor so the top of the screen is level with your eyeline. Use reams of copier paper or telephone books to get to right height if the monitor height is not adjustable. Ideally a monitor will be directly ahead of you but for two monitors bring them in close together to minimise the amount of time you need to twist your neck to look at a second screen.
Good posture is a matter of habit. With training you can achieve a neutral spine with relaxed shoulders while seated in your chair. Some people make the mistake of tilting the back of the chair forwards to force their back straight however, all it does is force your back and legs to tense and resist the pressure. Instead a slight tilt backwards is more comfortable and ergonomic.
If you can, run your forefinger from the base of your spine as far up as it can go. Lean your spine forwards and backwards until you begin to feel the difference between what is straight and curved. Generally, people tend to lean forward, curving their spine when they work on the computer. Notice it, and consciously override it. Lean back so your shoulders are level with your hips.
One of the easiest ways to do major damage to yourself at work is by straining to reach an object just out of reach. It happens more frequently than you’d think. So it doesn’t happen to you set up your own workspace so that the objects you use 80% of the time are in your immediate vicinity. Usually, this means the keyboard, mouse, pen and post-it notes are right by your hands. Tools needed regularly, but not all the time, like scissors, the phone and staples should be where you can easily reach with an outstretched arm, without leaning. Everything else should be neatly kept in draws or on shelves.
The body thrives on movement. Even small movements. It does not enjoy being still for hours a day. Even if you are seated at work, make a conscious effort to stand every twenty minutes to stretch, and take advantage of every opportunity to walk around from fetching glasses of water to printing to the farthest side of the office. That way your body is better able to cope with the taxing and harmful task of sitting.