14 Seat Positioning Tips to Avoid Muscular Strains and Aching Joints
During the lockdown period, many people that worked in offices had to work from home and use a home desk setup situation that was only meant to be utilised for short periods of time. Instead, many of us find ourselves working for longer periods at a time from the comfort of our homes. This has often led to a less than optimal working environment, which ultimately can lead to muscular strains and aching joints throughout the body.
The body is not meant to sit for eight hours or long periods per day, even when sitting in a good seated position. Sitting at the desk for long periods at a time can put up to 40 per cent more pressure on your spine than standing. Your best-seated position is your next one! (1). Regular movement is key.
Follow our helpful guide to five tips to ensuring you have a good seat positioning and setting up your home or office desk to improve experience working throughout the day.
Effective ways achieve good seat positioning working from your desk
1. Ensure that your back is supported by adjusting your seat
If you are sitting in a standard office chair, there should be a ledger that allows you to adjust your seat height, the position of the backrest and the seat tilts. If you are in a home chair, adjustments can be made by adding cushions to your seat or a platform (perhaps a box) under your feet.
2. Hips should be higher than knees
Ideally, your hips should be slightly higher than your knees so that the angle at the hip is slightly larger than 90 degrees and the angle at the knee is around 90 degrees.
3. Sit back into the seat
You should be able to sit back into the seat against the backrest. What’s more, you should be able to get a fist in between the front of the chair and the back of the knee. You may be able to adjust the pan depth (horizontal position) of the seat in an office chair, which is advantageous to your comfort.
4. Feet flat on the floor or on a foot rest
When sitting at your desk, whether at home or in the office – it’s essential to ensure that your feet are either flat on the floor. For the shorter person, a footrest can be placed underneath the feet for support.
5. Pay attention to lower back support
Any low back support should be positioned in the area above the waist where the lower back (lumbar spine) curves inward. Everyone has a different curve, some individuals will need more, some less support.
Upper body positioning
6. Relax arms by your side with elbows
• Your arms should be relaxed by your side with your elbows roughly underneath your shoulders. The further the elbows are away from this point the more stress to the neck and shoulders musculature. Forearms should be parallel to the desk and the wrists supported.
7. Centre your head
Your head should be balanced and centred over your shoulders when sitting at your desk.
Monitor or laptop screen positioning
8. Screen and eye level
•Generally, the top line of text on the screen should be about eye level. However, this is dependent on the requirements of the individual task. For example, if you spend a lot of time looking at the keyboard, the screen can be lowered slightly and tilted upwards, to find a more comfortable position for the neck. Also, if you wear varifocals or bifocals, the screen will need to be slightly lower.
9. The screen should be an arm’s length away
The screen should be approximately an arm’s length away. If you have more than one screen you may want to have them a little further away than this. The most often used screen should be in the centre.
10. Minimise glare
The screen should be in a position where glare is minimised, ideally not facing or backing onto a window. A right angle to a window is preferable.
11. Ensure that the correct screen and keyboard alignment
If you use a laptop rather than a separate screen and keyboard at home, it is impossible to get the correct alignment. A separate keyboard should be used and the laptop will need to be set up on a monitor stand to find the correct height and distance for the screen.
12. Take a break every 20 minutes
It is important to look away from the screen frequently to prevent fatigue of the small muscles around the eyes. The 20:20:20 rule should be observed, every 20 minutes, look 20 metres away for 20 seconds. Also, we often don’t blink enough when staring at a screen, which can cause dry irritated eyes.
Keyboard and mouse setup
13. Have enough space for mouse to move
The keyboard should be placed in a position where there is enough space to rest the wrists when necessary. The hands/wrist should not be angled up or down.
14. Your mouse should be place on the side of the keyboard
The mouse should be placed to the side of the keyboard ensuring that the arm is not reaching too far away from the body. Ensure a relaxed grip on the mouse using the whole hand rather than specific fingers. The arm should be relaxed.
The human body functions best if we keep moving, it promotes better circulation, maintains flexibility and uses different muscles. Movement breaks at least twice an hour are advised in order to allow the musculoskeletal and visual systems to recalibrate. Stretching and mobilising exercises can also be performed at the desk.
The above points are by no means exhaustive in terms of finding a supportive workstation set up and every individual will be slightly different in terms of their body’s needs and requirements.
Any position held for too long a period will eventually become uncomfortable and potentially detrimental to the user not only in terms of musculoskeletal health but also psychologically. When there is no way for the body to dissipate stress hormones produced as a result of the flight or fight response being activated, the effects on the body can become chronic.
1. Benden – Can You Stand to Lose – 2008
2. DSE Helpful Hints for your perfect workstation set up – Posturite
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