The physiotherapist’s 5 top tips for an ergonomically correct seated posture
There are several things you need to consider to sit correctly at work. A good chair is of course essential for a good seated posture, whether at work or in your home office. Good ergonomic chairs specifically designed to give you the best seated posture at work are, or course, Dynamostol’s core business. However, even though an ergonomic chair is a good place to start when improving your office, there are a number of other things you can do to fully benefit from your chair, and to achieve optimum ergonomics and a better way of working. So here are some tips for organising your office and desk, and to help you get the most out of your chair and work more effectively.
5 top tips for a good working posture:
1. Make sure the chair is the right height for you
A significant amount of lower back pain and neck and shoulder pain is caused by having an incorrect chair and desk height. I therefore recommend you sit with an angle of between 110 and 130 degrees in your hips. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that the top of your knee is lower than the bottom of your buttocks, if seen from the side.
The open hip position will make you sit up straight on your chair without requiring any unnecessary effort. At Dynamostol, we have designed our chairs so that the seat supports your buttocks and coccyx, helping you to sit well while giving your legs the room to point to the ground, which helps create the open angle at the hip.
2. Make sure the desk is the right height for you
Once you’re sitting properly on the chair, the desk should match the height you’re sitting at, so you avoid tension in the neck. When you sit at a desk, you should be able to relax your shoulders. This means that your elbows should rest on the desk that you sit at. The desk must not be so high that it pushes your shoulders upwards, nor so low that your back curves when you rest your elbows on it. If you don’t have a sit-stand desk, which is easy to adjust in height, place some blocks under the table legs to raise the desk top, or use a foot stool so that you can reach the desk and still have your feet firmly on the floor.
3. Mouse and keyboard
Even when you sit correctly on your new chair from Dynamostol, and your chair and desk height are correct, you can still suffer from shoulder, elbow and neck pain if you haven’t placed your mouse, keyboard or computer screen correctly. This is particularly important if you spend long periods of time in front of a screen. To avoid shoulder and neck pain, mouse and keyboard should be placed right by your hands, so that you sit in a relaxed position with your elbows resting on the desk. This makes the upper arms hang vertically from the shoulders and makes the lower arms point straight into the middle. I personally don’t have room for both the keyboard and mouse right in front of me, so I frequently adjust; if I have to write a lot of text, I move the keyboard directly in front of me, and if I have to read a lot or click between windows and websites, I move the keyboard to the side, and hold the mouse lightly in my right hand. If you have a large computer screen or several screens, where you have space for a small “writing window” to one side, you can also roll from side to side. Then you don’t need to keep moving the keyboard and mouse, and it helps that our chairs are particularly easy to move around on.
4. The computer screen
The position of the computer screen is a major culprit when it comes to neck and shoulder pain. For the screen to be positioned correctly, when you look straight ahead, your eyes should focus on approx. one-third of the screen height below the top edge. This will typically give you the best posture as you focus on what’s right in front of you. If you have a height-adjustable screen, you can always adjust it to the work that you’re doing.
It is also worth tilting the screen slightly upwards, so that the bottom part of the screen points up towards your eyes. If you spend a lot of time working on a laptop, the screen will often be in a very low position. In this case, it is worth having a separate keyboard, so that your screen is raised, but your keyboard is still at hand-height.
Another recommendation you often hear is to sit right in front of the screen (so not to the left or right of it). I don’t always agree with this, as I often have more than one window open at a time, and I believe that you should adjust your position to what you’re looking at, rather than the entire screen. I therefore recommend placing yourself right in front of the window you’re working in. This is when a good set of castors on a Dynamostol chair really come into their own, helping me to move from side to side so that I sit directly in front of whatever I am working on.
5. Organising your desk
To avoid any unnecessary strain injuries from reaching over your desk several times a day, I recommend organising your desk so that the things you use most are close by, and within what the Danish Working Environment Authority refers to as ‘the normal working area”.
If you don’t have enough space here, but have a large desk, a Dynamostol chair is again of benefit, as the chair is light and the castors are easy to move. This means that you can easily move from side to side by your desk, and thereby move to a ‘new’ working area, so that you avoid moving all the things around on your desk or stretching across it.
Illustration borrowed from the Danish Working Environment Authority, Arbejdspladsens indretning og inventar.
By physiotherapist Bjarke Bech Villadsen