If you’re experiencing neck, back, or shoulder pain and you work a desk job, you may have issues with your ergonomics of sitting. What is ergonomics? Ergonomics is the study of people working and their relationship to their working environment. For people working at a desk for long hours, their ergonomics include how they use things like their office chair, desk, and how their computer is set up, to name a few. When your ergonomics are correct, your workstation supports good posture while you type or click away. If the relationship between you and your workstation is out of balance, you may have poor posture, which can lead to repetitive motion injuries, and muscle tension or pain. According to BioFunctional Health Solutions (BHS), an expert in workplace ergonomics, one-third of all workers’ compensation costs are from ergonomic injuries. One of the easiest ways to prevent injury, and reduce general pain and discomfort, is to correct your ergonomics of sitting. This article will guide you through the ergonomics of sitting at a desk with practical and straightforward solutions.
Getting The Right Chair
Having the right chair for your body can solve ergonomic and postural woes. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one size fits all solution when it comes to desk chairs. Everyone’s body is different and requires a different chair or a different adjustment to their chair. Here are some key indicators to look at when choosing or adjusting an office chair.
- Look at your knees while sitting. Are they in line with your hips and bottom? With your feet flat on the floor, check to see that your knees are in line with your hips. If you have pain at the base of your spine, it might be more comfortable if your hips are a little above your knees. This takes the pressure out of your back and puts your weight on your thighs and feet. If your knees are lower than your hips and you don’t have pain in the base of your spine, consider a wedge for under your feet.
- When an office chair is correctly adjusted, you should be able to sit comfortably with your hips and bottom positioned at the back of the chair. The chair should support the whole length of your thighs. A common measurement of success with this portion of office chair adjustment is being able to fit two fingers between the back of your knee and the chair. This indicates there is enough support for your hips and knees.
- For armrests, the ideal position is at elbow height, when your shoulders can be relaxed. This is key because if your arms are up too high, that will kink your neck, and if they are too low, you won’t have enough support and will likely lean to one side or the other, creating strain in your back.
Proper Sitting Posture
While a correctly adjusted office chair will support good posture, what is proper sitting posture? Here are some signs that you don’t have good sitting posture.
- C-shaped spine while sitting.
- Crossing your legs.
- Resting your weight on your elbows.
- Hunched shoulders.
- Chin jutting forward.
Good sitting posture involves symmetry and balance in your muscles and skeleton. Proper sitting posture occurs when the back is straight, and your shoulders are relaxed, with your shoulder blades down on your back, not lifted towards your ears. Your weight should be evenly distributed over your seat bones, with a natural curve in the lumbar (low back) spine. Your hips, knees, and ankles should be at right angles, with the bottom of your chin parallel to the floor. Instead of moving forward, your head should be positioned between your shoulders.
If you’re still having trouble finding your best posture with a correctly adjusted office chair, consider cushions for your seat and low back. Lumbar support can keep that natural curve in your low back while keeping your hips properly positioned.
Correct Equipment Set Up
So, you’ve found the correct posture in your office chair, maybe with the help of some cushions. Now, what about the rest of your workstation? You may be able to support the ergonomics of sitting at a desk by adjusting your equipment.
- Desk height is essential. Ideally, you adjust your chair to work with your desk and posture, but if necessary, raise your desk with desk feet. Or, if it’s too high, raise your office chair and use a footrest or wedge to maintain proper posture. You know your desk is at the right height when the middle row of your keyboard is level with your forearms.
- Your screen should be at eye level, and if you’re using paper or a tablet to type from, use a holder of some kind, so the material is propped up at eye level too.
- Use a hands-free headset if you are on the phone a lot. This allows you to avoid overworking your hands, shoulders, and neck.
Ergonomic Resources From BHS
Solve ergonomic issues in the workplace quickly and safely with BHS. We offer easy-to-implement ergonomics best practices for any work environment. Early detection is key to preventing pain and further injury. Early detection and intervention can keep an injury from becoming more severe, make treatment more effective, and reduces disability outcomes or permanent damage. If you or your employees are experiencing warning signs like shaking or rubbing their hands and arms, wearing braces on their back, wrists, or ankles, rolling their shoulders, or modifying workspaces, then BHS has the solution for you. We offer our clients the following:
- Clear goals and objectives for resolving issues with the ergonomics of sitting.
- Ways to engage, enroll and involve employees in correcting their ergonomics.
- Support for management as they create changes in the workspace.
- Identification of problem areas.
- Implementation of ergonomic solutions.
- Progress measurement and tracking.
If you’re ready to save your workplace money and increase your employees’ level of functioning and productivity, reach out to us today to get started.