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The ergonomic secrets hidden in the sitting position

19 July 2023

It sounds like one of the most basic things there is, but it is possible to sit in such a way as to damage yourself over time. Think of it like any other thing you do repetitively over a significant amount of time. If you are sitting in a sub-optimal position, it will begin to have a negative effect on your body, as it tries to compensate for weight being borne in places it shouldn't be concentrated.

Seating yourself in the wrong way can mean increased back pain as well as pain in the feet, arms, neck and shoulders, so it is essential not just to buy an ergonomic chair but to learn about how to use it to its maximum effect. It is all very well having a high-quality chair as an aid for good posture, but if you don't know the basics of what constitutes good posture, it is still possible to get it wrong.

We spend so much of our lives in office chairs in front of a computer that we sometimes don't even notice the ways in which we are moving and bending that are contributing to longer-term pain. The next time you sit down in your office chair, take the time to audit your position and look at the placement of your back, arms, and feet. Are you slouching in the chair? Are you hunched over the desk? We can default to the same old ways of working very quickly, and it is good to be conscious of how we sit in order to track and counter this.

Adjusting Your Seated Posture

Taking the time to get this right will make a massive difference to your posture and comfort levels in the office, so take the time to read this through and adjust yourself mindfully in accordance with the information below.

Leg and Foot Position

The best advice for how to sit in a position that is good for your spine is first to ensure that your feet are able to come to rest either flat on the ground or on a special footrest that has been designed for this purpose.

Your joints at the hip, knee and ankle should be at the very least 90 degrees and slightly more than this, ideally between there and 120 degrees. Your knee joints should be kept at the same height as your hip joints or slightly lower, and your ankles should be in front of your knees. In other words, your lower legs should protrude forward slightly before your feet meet the ground, to an angle of somewhere between 100-120 degrees. There should also be a gap of at least the width of three fingers between the edge of the seat and the back of your knees.

Upper Body Position

Your upper body should be held straight, and you should ensure that you aren't twisted to the left or right-hand side. If you have an ergonomic chair, the lumbar support should be nestled against your lower back. Try to ensure that you don't deviate from this and keep your back straight. Once you are sitting up straight, try to ensure that you hold your head up as well. Keep your head aligned with your spine, and take advantage of the headrest on the ergonomic chair if you need to. Try not to bend your neck forward when you are looking down, even at a screen, as this can cause untold difficulties over the longer term.  

Arm Position

You should keep your upper arms around 20 degrees forward,d and your lower arms should be tucked in at your sides and be at approximately 90 degrees from your upper arms. This is a good posture for typing and will help you to do so efficiently and in comfort for a prolonged period of time.

When looking at arm position, it is also worth looking at the height of the desk that you working from to ensure that this is right for you. There are height-adjustable desks that you can buy if you feel that you could benefit from purchasing a desk better suited for your work.

Sitting Position Vs Standing

If you have the possibility of using a standing desk, you really should give it a go. They can help massively with posture, and if you alternate between the two, you may even be able to increase your productivity. Standing desks can help to increase blood flow throughout your body, and this carries oxygen which makes you sharper and more able to concentrate on the matters at hand.

Sitting for around an hour at a time and then swapping out for standing can be a great way to work, as long as you aren't sitting all the time, as this can take its toll on your health in the longer term.