Working in style means good posture and sitting correctly. Human beings aren’t designed to sit down, so Lillian Antonio, Herman Miller’s Ergonomist shows TheChicGeek how to reduce the problems associated with bad posture and getting you working in style
1. The eyes always win! Your computer monitor or laptop position and height is important in ensuring a good posture, this because if the position isn’t correct then the body will adapt to achieve the correct viewing distance. This can result in awkward postures which in turn put strain on other parts of the body such as the neck or back, for example. You should position your monitor directly in front of you at eye level, when sitting up straight. It should be approximately arm’s length away from you (this is a guideline so a little further or closer is not a problem as long as you’re eyes comfortable throughout the day). You can achieve this by using a monitor arm or, if you’re using a laptop, a laptop raiser or even just a pile of books! An additional keyboard and mouse would be needed with a laptop.
2. A good upright posture and leaning back in the chair. To maintain a good upright posture for any period of time your back needs to be properly supported. The chair is usually the piece of furniture which has the most adjustability and it’s important that is adjusted correctly. It’s just as easy to adjust it badly and encourage a poor posture. When typing or using the computer intensely an upright posture should be adopted but research has shown that leaning back in the chair helps to decrease the pressure in the lumbar area of the spine. So as long as your back is properly supported by the chair leaning back when you’re on the phone or reading a document is good for you!
3. Feet on the floor. Having your feet firmly planted on the floor when seated is important in protecting your back, this is because if your feet aren’t supported by the floor you’ll have a tendency to either sit forwards in your chair, away from your backrest in order to get your feet on the floor or potentially create pressure points on the underside of the thighs. Another common position is with your feet wrapped around the base of the chair; the problem with this position is that it will pull your upper body forwards putting a lot of strain on your lower back. If your desk is too high for you to position your feet comfortably on the floor you need to use a footrest.
4. Keep your equipment close. It seems obvious but keeping your equipment; in particular your mouse and keyboard close to you will help you to maintain a good posture. It is common that throughout the day your keyboard and mouse will creep further and further away from you on the desk and this in turn means you lean more and more forwards. Ideally your arms should be at a right angle, at the side of the body and you should be able to reach these items. This will ensure your arms are well supported by your shoulders.
5. No posture is good if it’s held all day! Even when sitting correctly we need to change our position and posture regularly. Research has shown that it is the total amount of time we spend at our workstations each day which is mostly responsible for reported problems rather than the precise postures we adopt or the equipment we use. That’s why guidance on safe and comfortable working with computers always emphasises the need for regular changes or breaks. So get up at any excuse; cup of tea, toilet break…..!
To set up your workstation correctly start with the chair. You should raise the chair so that you can sit comfortably with your arm at a right angle, by your side, your forearms should be approximately 1 inch above the workstation. If your feet are not fully supported by the floor, you will need a footrest. Ensure your monitor is at eye level and directly in front of you. Your equipment should be close enough to maintain the right posture with your arms.