Did you know that the origin of modern office chairs could possibly be attributed to Charles Darwin?
(Notice my deliberate use of the word ‘origin’!)
It is alleged that he customised a wooden armchair by adding wheels so that he could roll around his study inspecting specimens.
I have already written about the importance of correct posture when sitting on your office chair and in this post I’m going to expound upon this theme a little further.
It is important when sitting for long periods of time that your office chair is ergonomically designed, in other words it must have the ability to cater for an individual’s needs.
This is done by having features on your chair that allow you to customise support according to your body shape and type. If your office chair is not entirely right for you, it can lead to increased blood pressure and higher blood sugar levels. It could also be a primary cause of repetitive strain injury.
If you think about it, the muscles in your back are constantly working to keep your body upright while you are sitting. Therefore, it is essential that your back is supported at the correct angles. Otherwise you run the risk of straining certain muscle groups in your back and this can lead to discomfort and fatigue as well as constant and persistent pain. Additionally this could potentially leave you susceptible to further injury and subsequently additional medical complications.
According to Dr Notley, a dual credentialed Chiropractor and Athletic Therapist in Winnipeg:
“The best chair that you can use is one that you can get out of frequently. I say this often, “Our body is meant to move, it is not meant to stay in the same place for long periods”. Staying in one position too long can have negative effects on the body. Ideally, to offset these negative effects, we should take mini-breaks every 20 minutes or if that is not possible at least every 50 minutes. Frequent adjusting of your posture is often a benefit as well.”
Your screen should be directly in front of you. Place the monitor about an arms length away with the top of the screen roughly at eye level.
Having your computer monitor at the wrong level can place a strain on your eyes leading to dryness and an increased sensitivity to light.
Tip: From time to time, give your eyes a rest and close them. You could also try rolling your eyes around for a minute or so (don’t let your colleagues see or they might think you are having some kind of fit!). Look up at the ceiling and down at the floor. Move your eyes from side to side.
Tip: Some office chairs come with a neck support.
Did you know that leaning forward in your chair for prolonged periods can put 3-4 times more strain on your back?
You can avoid back pain simply by adjusting your office chair so that your lower back is properly supported. Your office chair should be easily adjustable so that you can change the height, back position and tilt.
Ensure that your knees are level with your hips and your feet are flat on the floor. If necessary, you might need to obtain some kind of footrest. Additionally, you should avoid crossing your legs as this decreases circulation and can cause hip problems.
Tip: It is advisable to get up and walk around every 20-30 minutes. A great excuse to go and put the kettle on!
Ideally, your office chair should have adjustable lumbar support to ensure that you do not develop lower back problems.
Tip: You can place a cushion in your lower back area if you don’t have an ergonomic office chair and it doesn’t have lumbar support.
Ideally, you should be able to use your computer keyboard with your wrists and forearms straight and level with the floor. Keep your elbows by the side of your body, so that your arms form an L-shape at the elbow joint.
Tip: By following this recommendation you can reduce the risk of a repetitive strain injury.
You should leave a 10-15cm gap between the desk and keyboard so that you can rest your wrists when not typing. Make sure that keyboard is directly in front of you. Also, it is important not to bend your wrists – keep them as straight as you can. Keep your elbows tucked in to your side and vertical with your shoulders.
Tip: Try using a wrist rest if you struggle keeping your wrists straight. They are usually filled with gel and are a great comfort aid if you are likely to embark upon prolonged periods of typing.
Keep the mouse close to you while working on your computer and again keep your wrist as straight as possible.
Tip: In a similar way to the previous tip, you can also get mouse mats with built in gel wrist supports. They can help to make computer work involving your mouse considerably more comfortable.
To prevent unnecessary screen reflection you should position your monitor so that lighting does not affect your view. You can of course use blinds etc. to prevent sunlight affecting your view of the screen and use the brightness and contrast settings until they are set to a level you are comfortable with.
Tip: Place a mirror in front of your monitor to identify potential light sources that may be causing problem screen reflection and glare
Consider using a headset rather than a handset. This is because if you spend prolonged periods with the phone wedged between your ear and shoulder you may begin to suffer neck ache.
Keep objects that you use regularly within easy reach so that you reduce the risk of straining muscles from over stretching.
If you are a bifocal wearer and you are constantly moving your head up and down from the monitor to the keyboard, it’s possible you may begin to experience discomfort.
Tip: Consult your optician for alternative solutions
On a final note, there is a useful video on the NHS website that explains how bad posture can lead to health problems including back pain.
Hope this helps…