Recently sitting at a desk, using a computer, and sitting in office chairs have been under heavy attacks from all angles due to sitting too much and it possibly being a repetitive trauma to some areas of the body. It’s hard to think about sitting and working at a desk as possible trauma, but when you add up years and years of it, it starts to take it’s toll on the body.
First things first, you want to be sure your posture is doing well. You will want to sit as close as possible to the the desk and that you sit squarely with the desk. It’s important that your arms remain parallel to your spine and your hands rest comfortably on the work surface. If possible, you want your arms in a comfortable position close to a 90 degree angle. Whenever you posture starts to become a problem, it is best to stand up, stretch and walk around as much as possible.
Most often, for most people, an office chair height should range from about 16 to 21 inches off the ground and is suitable for most body types. Having a non adjustable chair is very much a problem and you need to make sure that the chair fits you as best as possible.
With many of our patients we are seeing a trend of stepping away from sitting at a desk and using a standing desk more and more often. Raising your work surface greatly allows for better mechanics of the spine and hips because they more remain more naturally in neutral. Another side note on a standing desk is that you stay more alert when using a standing desk because you are not as easily able to slump or else you might fall over, so some studies have shown that you use 60 – 80 more calories per day when standing. The standing desk industry as a whole is starting to truly take off. Here at the office headquarters in Laurel Springs, we intentionally built a standing work station for the doctors to use with many power outlets since most of us have a smart phone, iPad, and a laptop. We also like to remain on our feet as we work for the most part, so a standing work station allows us to check notes without the up and down of an office chair.
Check your screen height! It’s sad to say it, but looking down for long periods can become hard on the neck, just like reading a book for too long, or texting too long. With your chair adjusted properly to the height of your table, your legs should be comfortable and your back well supported by the lumbar areas of your chair. When you look forward somewhat comfortable and relaxed, you want to be well aimed at your computer screen. Often times with laptop computers this is far from the case you look down to see your screen, effectively putting your neck into forward flexion of the cervical spine. You want to best raise your screen level to an effective height that does not cause you to look down. Lifting your laptop is sometimes tough and requires the addition of a second screen or a lifting device to help you stay looking forward and not down hill.
Lastly, the armrests on your chair can be important. I personally would not buy an office chair without adjustable armrests because properly adjusted armrests can help lower neck and shoulder strain over the 6 – 8 hours you work each day. Proper armrests also can help to slow the likelihood that you end up slouching forward as the day progresses and you become increasingly fatigued.
Overall, the biggest factor of spending several hours a day in a chair is that you’re in a compromised position to at least some extent. There is no replacement for standing up, taking a walk and stretching. Watching your posture in a position that you will spend several years of your life in is very important to protect for you long term health.
If you have questions about Chiropractic, Active Release Techniques, Corrective Exercise / Rehabilitation and just about anything related to sitting in poor posture for too long, we hope you will give us a call at 856.228.3100 to see if we can help you! We have found that Active Release Technique combined with some Chiropractic Manipulation and Corrective Exercise based on the patients needs can greatly help reduce issues related to poor ergonomics at work and suggestions on getting those issues fixed long term make for great patient outcomes!