good seat positioning when working from home at desk or office

Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

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.

ensure that your back is supported with a cushion and feet too

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.

feet flat on floor or on a foot rest

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.

arms relaxed by your side
forearms parallel to desk

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.

screenshot docs.google.com 2021.09.20 18 15 40

incorrect

screenshot docs.google.com 2021.09.20 18 17 24

incorrect

screenshot docs.google.com 2021.09.20 18 18 40

correct

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.

screenshot docs.google.com 2021.09.20 18 07 39
screenshot docs.google.com 2021.09.20 18 08 30

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.

References

1. Benden – Can You Stand to Lose – 2008
2. DSE Helpful Hints for your perfect workstation set up – Posturite
3. https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/ck1.pdf

You may also like

Sitting…the new silent killer??

Sitting…the new silent killer??

Our bodies are designed for regular movement but studies are showing that even if you undertake the recommended 30 minutes of exercise per day if you spend the rest of your day sitting, it can substantially affect your mortality risk. 65% of an average person’s day is...

read more
How Much Exercise is Good for You?

How Much Exercise is Good for You?

In our fast-paced, fast-living society, the message that is transmitted throughout the media is that we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic. We have rising rates of lifestyle diseases such as type II diabetes, heart disease, and many cancers. This is undoubtedly...

read more
Demystifying Pilates – 10 Top FAQ’s

Demystifying Pilates – 10 Top FAQ’s

Demystifying Pilates - 10 Top FAQ'sThere are many misconceptions about Pilates and I often get asked questions about what it is and what it does for you. This list aims to demystify Pilates and its practice and help you to understand why it could be a perfect addition...

read more
Dore Health Pilates classes have a new home!

Dore Health Pilates classes have a new home!

From the 16th July I will be moving all of my classes from the Medicine Garden in Cobham to the Cobham Curve, home to Cobham Rugby Club, also in Cobham (www.thecobhamcurve.co.uk ). The classes will be held in the upstairs Covenham suite which is a lovely airy space...

read more