By now we all know that sitting at a desk too long can cause low back pain, but did you know that it can be responsible for your neck pain, too? It could also be responsible for headaches, eye pain, TMJ, wrist pain, elbow pain, leg pain, digestive troubles, weight gain, muscle atrophy, breathing problems, and so on.
The human body wasn't designed to spend most of the day sitting still at a desk staring at a screen. Unfortunately, the modern Western workweek is built around doing just that. Many of us spend 40+ hours a week sitting. That's 160 hours a month, or 2,080 hours a year sitting down in the same position.
It's not realistic for all of us to quit our office jobs but we can however improve our workstation so that it supports good posture and in turn our health. Here are a few ways you can improve your workstation:
Support Your Back
First make sure that you are sitting up straight or leaning slightly back with your legs uncrossed. Your back should be aligned with the back of the chair and in a natural and comfortable position.
Check Your Legs
Your thighs should be parallel, and your lower legs perpendicular to the floor. Your knees should be at the same level or slightly above your hips. Your feet should be touching the floor. If they don't touch the floor, then try adjusting your chair. If they still don't touch then use a foot rest.
Position Your Arms
Next place your hands over your keyboard in the typing position. Your wrists should be in a neutral position and your forearms should be parallel and resting comfortably on the table. Your elbows should be bent at a 90-110 degree angle and pointing slightly outwards. If your hands are above your elbows then you need to lower your keyboard. There should be no slack or discomfort anywhere along the spine, shoulders, or forearms.
Align Your Eyes
Your monitor should be placed so that your eyes are level with the upper third of the screen without having to tilt your head up or down. If you notice that you have to look down to achieve this, try placing a couple of books under your monitor to raise it up. Your monitor should be placed right in front of your body, not off to the side. If you have to rotate or turn your head to see your monitor, then make the necessary changes so your head can be straight.
If you use a laptop you can get a laptop stand and a wireless keyboard and mouse for your desk. This way you can have your monitor level as well as have your keyboard in the proper place to prevent injury.
Take a Break
Be sure to get up and take breaks often. Even the most perfect sitting posture is not as healthy as moving around and getting your blood flowing. Stand up, stretch your arms up and out, and take a short walk around the office every hour. If you have the freedom to move more then do so. Don't waste your free time sitting in the same position.
Ergonomic Office Equpment
If you are in the position to upgrade your office equipment then the first thing I recommend by far is a sit to standing desk. Sit to standing desks allow for your body to move freely and be in a variety of positions throughout the day. They are a great investment without being overly expensive.
You can even one up this by getting a treadmill desk. Walking at a moderate pace while working at a desk may seem like an accident waiting to happen, but once you get the hang of it they are pretty stable. Treadmill desks are bit pricey but worth the investment if you spend long hours working and have little time to exercise.
If for some reason a sit to standing or treadmill desk won't work for you then the next thing I would upgrade is your chair. The Steelcase Leap Ergonomic Office Chair is a top pick especially for those who are in the computer industry and spend most of their time sitting.
Try making the above adjustments and let me know what you think. If you have anything to add feel free to post in the comment section.