Not sitting properly when you perform work that requires you to sit for several hours a day or more can have a long term detrimental effect on the health of your back, neck and shoulders. Most employers now recognise the need to provide employees with ergonomically designed chairs to help support them correctly whilst they work, but simply having the right chair means nothing if you slump down in it or remain rigid all day.
For the correct sitting position, you should firstly adjust the height. You should be able to sit with your bottom against the chair back and your thighs slanted ever so slightly downwards, and in this position your feet should both rest comfortably flat on the floor. If your chair has a curved lumbar support this should fit snugly into the natural curve at the base of your spine.
Your elbows at rest need to be level with or no more than a couple of inches higher than the edge of the desk you are using. When seated correctly, you should be able to draw a pair of invisible parallel lines from your shoulders through your elbows to your hips, and another pair from knees to heels. As you look at your computer screen, your eyes should be level with the top edge of the monitor, allowing you to view the whole screen without having to tilt your chin either down or up.
Chair Position Within The Workstation
Your chair should sit in a position which allows your wrists to rest gently on the edge of the desk in front of the keyboard without stretching and with your elbows by your sides. Some people find a wrist rest provides additional support. The key to setting up your workstation is to minimise stretching – the keyboard and mouse should be within easy reach, and you should try to store commonly used items such as staplers, pens or hole punches in an area that can be accessed without twisting or stretching.
Office chairs can be set up to perfection and your workstation can be optimal, but it is still necessary for you to take responsibility for your own health whilst at work. Sitting still for too long in any position causes stress on your muscles and spinal column. You should be aiming to take breaks from sitting of no less than five minutes in every hour. These can be as simple as a stroll to the water cooler or a colleague’s desk, or as involved as a five minute exercise session. Even when extremely busy, it is important to incorporate a few simple stretches into your working day. Look up some desk yoga techniques and try to perform them at least three times in the course of a normal working day to stretch out tired immobile muscles.
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