Many office workers find after a period of time that they have begun to develop minor back problems, such as an achy lumbar region, sore muscles in the neck and shoulder area or tightness across the middle of the back. Adjusting the way you sit at work can not only eradicate these minor aches and pains, but also save you from potential long term health risks.
A lot of people simply sit in the position that they feel most comfortable in, which is often slouched down in the chair. Getting proper lumbar support and setting up your work station in a way that puts the minimum of strain on your back, neck and shoulder muscles is vital for anyone who spends more than an hour a day in a chair.
Adjusting Your Chair
The style of chair we sit in is important – it should have a curved lumbar support and also adjustable height, tilt and arm rests to allow each individual to set it up to suit their own personal needs. When sitting in the chair, the lumbar support should fit snugly into the natural curvature of the spine to support the back whilst working.
Once this is in place, adjust the height of the chair so that your elbows are directly below your shoulders, and your forearms rest on the desk when perpendicular to the upper arms. In this position, your feet need to rest flat on the floor. If this is not the case, either the desk needs to be lowered or a foot-rest used. In optimal position, your feet will rest flat on the floor directly below the knees.
Creating an Optimal Work Station
Once you have your chair set up perfectly, you need to think about where everything else will sit in relation to yourself. When your wrists are resting on the edge of the desk you should be able to type without bending them. There should be between four and six inches of space between the edge of the desk and the front of the keyboard, to allow you to rest your wrists when not typing. The mouse should be as close to you as possible so you can use it without stretching or twisting.
If you intend to spend a long period of time using the mouse rather than the keyboard, move the keyboard out of the way and keep the mouse in front of you. The top of your monitor should be level with your eyes, to prevent neck strain from looking up or down. Keep commonly used objects within easy reach to avoid unnecessary reaching and twisting.
One of the most important things to remember if you spend long hours sitting is to break up your day and perform regular stretches. Even if you have your work station set up perfectly, it is still imperative that you take regular breaks from sitting, and gently stretch out all the muscles in the back, neck and shoulders daily. There are many simple stretches that can be performed at your desk if it is not possible stretch anywhere else throughout the day.