Are you sitting comfortably?
You may think that how you sit can’t really harm you, but as Shinu Varghese, Lead Physiotherapist at the Benenden Hospital points out, the human body was never made to sit so much.
“The normal curve of the spine is an S shape, and the reason we have this S shape is that there is less stress on your joints and neck, and the muscles that support your back aren’t in a stressed position, " explains Varghese, "If you are stooping forward your spine goes into a C shape and when that happens there’s a lot of compression on the disks at the front and the muscles at the back of the spine are stressed. After many years of abusing your back, it can lead to lower back dysfunction.”
What can you and your employees do?
1. Ensure you have an adjustable chair that can be moved to make sure your lower back is properly supported.
2. Your knees should be very slightly lower than your hips, but not much.
3. If you can’t lower your seat and desk height to make sure your knees are at the right angle and height, get a footrest.
4. You should rest your feet FLAT on the footrest or the floor, not crossed. Don’t stretch out your legs
5. Your forearms should be straight in line with the floor and you should have your elbows tucked into your body, not sticking out or resting on armrests. If you find this difficult, try removing the armrests on your chair/getting a chair without them. Otherwise, you risk repetitive strain injuries.
6. Your keyboard should be 4-6 inches from the edge of the desk so you have room to rest your wrists
7. When typing your wrists should be straight. You may find a wrist rest helps you keep them in the right position.
8. Make sure your screen is right in front of you, and you’re not looking up or down at it, or you may strain your neck. You may need a stand for the monitor to get it at the right height (or you could use a pile of books to raise it up!)
9. Angle your screen so your eyes don’t get strained by reflections. Use a mirror in front of the screen to work out what’s dazzling you if it’s not obvious. You may need to use lamps instead of overhead lights or reposition your desk to avoid glare from windows.
10. Although people’s focus differs, to avoid eye strain your monitor should be at arm’s length. If you can’t see it at that distance, consider an eye test.
Sitting in the right position is important, says Shinu Varghese, but so is moving around. “Even the right position is not good if you prolong it for more than half an hour. The human body is primarily designed for running, not sitting down.”