Are you working from home or an office? Are you sitting at your desk for most of the day? Research has shown that the average person spends approximately 10 hours a day sitting. So, how healthy is your sitting position, specifically when you are working in an office?
Too much sitting, and in particular poor sitting habits, will lead to a bad posture. A bad posture can result in increased stress in your spine, intervertebral discs and cause muscle tension in your lower back, neck and shoulders. 3 surprising risks of poor posture (Harvard Medical School).
In order to maintain a good posture and reduce potential health problems, it is important to know how to adjust your office chair to create a healthy sitting position.
The ergonomic features on your office chair are there for a reason, use them!
A healthy sitting position – what is the right way to sit?
1. Adjusting the seat height
When your chair height is correctly adjusted, both your feet should be flat on the floor and your knees should be slightly lower than the level of your hips.
2. Adjust the depth of the seat (seat slider)
Not all office chairs have a seat slider. A seat slider allows you to move the seat pan backward or forward to suit the length of your thighs. If you are tall, a chair with this feature is highly recommended.
A good sitting position is when there is at least a 2-3 finger gap between the front edge of the seat and the back of your knees. This will prevent strain behind the knees, give optimal upper leg and under thigh support, and facilitate good blood circulation. A seat pan that is too long will cause you to sit on the edge of the seat with no proper back support.
The seat should also have a slight downwards curve in the front (waterfall front), to reduce the pressure on the back of your thighs.
3. Armrest adjustment
On an office chair, armrest height and width adjustment are essential for a healthy sitting position. When seated on the chair, your forearms should be parallel to the floor and your elbows should be bent at about 90 degrees.
4. Backrest angle
A chair that allows you to recline the backrest angle between 90 and 110 degrees is ideal. Sit with your back fully against the backrest.
The ideal sitting position is when the chair backrest is unlocked (free-floating), so that it moves with your body. This will ensure that it provides continuous support. Furthermore, tiredness will be reduced as your core muscles will be stimulated and blood flow improved.
Make sure that you adjust the spring tension in the backrest to match your body weight.
5. Lumbar support is critical for a good sitting position
An important feature for every office chair is a height adjustable backrest and/or adjustable lumbar support. Position the lumbar support so that it fits snugly into your lower back and keeps your spine in a neutral position.
Not all ergonomic chairs have a headrest and not every person needs one.
A headrests supports your neck and shoulders when you want to relax or talk on the phone. The headrest should be positioned so that it supports head in it’s natural position, viz. the headrest must not push your head forward or allow it to fall backwards.
A headrest that is not suited to your height, can cause more harm than good. A headrest that is too low, may force you to hunch over and extend your neck forward. The forward angle of your head can result in tension headaches, upper back, shoulder, and neck pain.
An unhealthy sitting position – how NOT to sit
Taking breaks or doing a short workout increases energy, productivity and creativity, while also reducing stress and possible burnout.
If you don’t have an adjustable office chair, consider purchasing one. A good ergonomic chair with adjustable features will allow you to create a healthy sitting position. This in turn, will improve your wellbeing, comfort and productivity. However this will only be the case if your chair is being used correctly!
In order to maintain a good posture, a healthy sitting position is important. Having a good ergonomic chair is useless if it is not adjusted correctly. Download our checklist to ensure that you have setup your chair in the right way.