Proper Office Ergonomics and Sitting Position to Prevent Pain
We sit at our desks and slouch over our computers all day at work. While we may not be able to change our workday, we can change our posture to avoid constant back and neck pain.
Proper office ergonomics can include things like chair height, location of often used objects, and most importantly, your posture. Bad posture can lead to neck cramps, headaches, and back pain.
Want to adjust your workspace to help relieve back and neck pain? Read on to learn the dynamics of bad posture and how to prevent pain with proper posture at the office.
What Are Signs of Bad Posture?
If you sit at a desk staring at a computer all day, five days a week, then you might notice sore muscles and headaches becoming an increasing problem. If you have bad posture at your work desk, you’ll notice this pain is an even greater issue in your life.
Just because you have to sit at a desk all day, does not mean that you are doomed to live with neck and back aches. The strain on your body is a result of hunching forward over your keyboard. This position causes the upper back to curve and the head and shoulders to lean forward, rather than being centered above the torso. Remaining stationary for long periods can also wreak havoc on your back and neck.
The physical signs of poor posture include hunched shoulders, a forward head position, a rounded back, and a tucked under pelvis. Take notice of your posture and make adjustments if you find yourself sitting in this position. You may also notice headaches, muscle stiffness, burning muscle aches, and even fatigue if you have bad posture while in an office chair.
What Are Correct Office Ergonomics?
The correct position for sitting at work involves a lot more than just your posture. You should take into account the height of your chair, the objects around you, and your computer position, along with other key concepts.
Your office chair should support the spinal curve of your back, and you should sit all the way back in it, resting your back on the chair. Adjust the height of the chair so that your feet are flat on the floor or on a footrest with your thighs parallel to the floor. Your arms should rest on the armrests of the chair with your shoulders relaxed.
You may need to use a footrest if your chair is too high to rest your feet flat on the floor or if your desk is too tall for you to comfortably work otherwise. Use a small stool or stack of books if a footrest is unavailable.
There should be plenty of space under your desk to fit your legs and feet. If the desk presses against your thighs, raise it by placing study boards under the desk legs. If the desk is too high, raise your chair and use a footrest. Use a wrist rest if the edge of the desk is too sharp on your wrists. Do not store items you often use underneath your desk.
The monitor should be approximately an arm’s length away and directly in front of your face with the top of the screen at eye level. If you wear bifocals, lower the screen an additional one to two inches for ease of viewing. The location of the monitor should be behind the keyboard with the brightest light source to the side, not behind or above the screen.
Keyboard and mouse
The keyboard and mouse should be placed on the same surface with the keyboard in front of the monitor and the mouse directly beside the keyboard.
When typing or using the mouse, keep your wrists straight to prevent strain. Your elbows should remain close to your body, and your hands should be at or slightly below the level of your elbows.
If possible, alternate the hand you use to operate the mouse by moving it to the other side of your keyboard and switching the function of the buttons to match your other hand. Using keyboard shortcuts reduces the number of times you need to switch from keyboard to mouse.
If you regularly use the phone at the office or need to type or write while on the phone, then put your call on speaker or use a headset. Cradling the phone between your shoulder and ear can cause neck strain.
Objects that you use regularly – such as your phone, stapler, or other office supplies – should be kept close to you to prevent the constant need to reach. Anything out of immediate reach should be gotten by standing up to prevent stretching.
What is the Correct Sitting Posture?
Using the correct posture of sitting can ensure that you keep a healthy back and spine and can help relieve muscle pain and headaches. Most people can improve their sitting position by following these guidelines:
- Keep your feet flat on the ground or on a footrest
- Avoid crossing your legs
- Keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the chair
- Situate your knees parallel to or slightly lower than your hips
- Move your feet so they are further out than your knees
- Relax your shoulders
- Keep your forearms and thighs parallel to the ground
- Sit up straight and look forward, avoiding neck strain
- Keep your back against the chair, using a cushion if the lower back does not meet the chair
To prevent back or neck pain, you should take a ten-minute break for every hour of sitting. During this time, you should stand, stretch, or walk around to relax your muscles and prevent them from growing stiff.
If you’ve been sitting correctly and notice that you are still experiencing muscle pain in your back, neck, and shoulders, it may be time to seek professional help.
A chiropractor can provide manual stimulation to the sore areas and use spinal and joint manipulation to reduce pain. Regular visits to the chiropractor can correct the body’s alignment and overall physical function. To ease pain related to poor posture, schedule an appointment with us online or call 256-721-9696 today.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.