If you work at a desk, good posture is everything. If you don’t pay attention to the way you sit at your desk, you have an increased risk of musculoskeletal problems.
Ergonomics is the science of designing the job to fit the worker, rather than forcing the worker’s body to fit the job. Everyone sits slightly different at a desk but there are basic rules around posture.
How Can I Improve My Posture at My Desk?
If you are one of those people who likes to sit hunched over, leaning back, a foot up on your chair or the wall then sit up and pay attention. Following these five posture tips might be what you need to make a change.
#1 Sit the Right Distance From Your Monitor
An easy way to remember how far away to position your monitor is an outstretched arm away. If you sit too close to your monitor, you risk eye strain. Too far away and you are more inclined to lean forward and squint at your monitor.
Correct Monitor Height
The height and placement of your monitor also matters. Position your monitor in front of your body so there is no need for you to twist or turn. The top of your monitor should be at eye level or just below to allow your eyes to look down a little to see the middle of the screen. You may need a monitor stand or riser to achieve the right height.
#2 Get a Good Office Chair and Adjust it Correctly
Work out how to adjust your chair. If you aren’t sure what all the levers do, read the manual or ask someone. Raise or lower the chair height until your thighs are parallel to the floor. There should be a clearance of at least two centimetres from the back of your knees to the edge of the chair. If your chair has armrests these should be at your seated elbow height so your arms are at 90 degrees when using the keyboard.
Good back support is important for maintaining a healthy spine. The backrest should sit comfortably in the small of your back. As a general rule, fabric back chairs offer more support than mesh chairs. Good ergonomic chairs have a height adjustable back to ensure correct lumbar support.
Chairs come in different shapes and sizes. Choose an office chair that is suited to your body’s height and shape as well as the work you do. The first step in choosing the right chair is to get the seat size correct before selecting the back style. If the seat size is incorrect, the user will not use the back correctly and will not have the right level of back support.
#3 Keep Your Feet Flat on the Floor
If you spend too long with your feet not properly positioned, it can put a strain on your spine. Your feet should sit comfortably on the floor when you are seated at your desk. If your entire foot can’t sit on the floor, use an adjustable footrest. But you don’t want the footrest to be so high that your knees sit higher than your hips. Using an ergonomic footrest can also reduce the chance of circulatory problems.
#4 Use Correct Shoulder Posture
Shoulder pain is common in office workers because of prolonged repetitive or awkward movements. The sedentary nature of the work can also cause weakened muscles.
To reduce the chance of shoulder pain, keep your shoulders relaxed. When people are under stress, they are inclined to lift their shoulders and as they tire later in the day, they slouch in the chair, rounding their spine. Take regular breaks and do some shoulder rolls throughout the workday to reduce tension in the muscles.
#5 Look After Your Hands and Wrists
Your wrists and hands should be parallel with your arms so your hands don’t tilt up or down when seated at a desk. Keep wrists in a natural resting position with the hand rotated at a 30-60 degree position, fingers curled and the thumbs straight and relaxed.
Typing and using a mouse constantly when your hands and wrists aren’t in a neutral position can cause tension to the muscles and tendons.
Using a Mouse Correctly
Depending on the design, an ergonomic mouse may allow you to place the heel of your hand over the mouse surface or use your entire arm to mouse rather than making your fingers or wrist do all the work. Don’t keep your wrist anchored to the desk and move your mouse close to your keyboard so you aren’t reaching. If your arms are resting on your chair arm rests, adjust their height so your elbows are at 90 degrees.
Repetitive hand movements like typing can cause injuries. One of the best ways to reduce the chance of repetitive strain injuries (RSI) is wrist stretches and exercises. Wrist and hand exercises warm the muscles and ligaments before you start and help relieve mouse hand pain. Exercising can also reduce the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful wrist condition.
Ensure you are using a good quality keyboard that allows your wrists and hands to stay in a relaxed neutral position while typing. Rather than working on a laptop with a cramped keyboard, switch to an ergonomic keyboard. Choose between one that is split in half and on an angle for better comfort or you might prefer a flat design which reduces wrist extension.
Good Posture at Your Desk Can Become a Good Habit
Concentrating on good posture while sitting at your computer may seem tiring at first but the opposite is true. Sitting with an ideal posture and the correct amount of support reduces discomfort and fatigue. Keep checking and adjusting your posture throughout the day and soon it will become a habit.
If you need to invest in quality ergonomic equipment that will help you maintain a good posture at work, visit the Ergolink showroom, or call us on (08) 9240 7066 or contact us online.