How to position your workplace and sit ergonomically correct
Positioning your workplace to your individual needs helps to prevent from wrong postures and straining your body which can cause fatigue, muscle tension, aches and long term back pains.
If you change and share your workplace with others you will have to adjust your seat each time as we are all proportioned different in size.
There is no such thing as the one right seating position. The key is to keep changing seating positions.
To sit all day is just as bad as standing all day. Crucial for a healthy back is therefore variation. Get up and move around. Walking to the printer or the kitchen facilities is therefore no wasted time but important for our health. Open your mail while standing, or make a phone call while walking. Variation also works with a sit-stand desk where rotating the position is beneficial. If not available for everybody, an integrated sit-stand desk in the office space to be used by everybody (hot desk) helps with supporting a healthy body movement cycle. Also changing into different positions while seated will help to prevent stiff postures, a dynamic rotation of sitting straight, leaning forward and leaning backwards. To do this with a good conscience office chairs with an automatic synchronic movement mechanism of backrest and seat pad are highly recommended.
step 1: adjust your chair
The height is correct if both feet stand firm on the ground and thigh and lower leg create a 90 degree angle. If you are a small person with trouble reaching the floor and your table is not height adjustable to suit, take use of a footrest with a big area for foot movement.
Don’t sit on the front edge of the seating pad but rather use the whole area to allow the backrest to support your back while leaning onto it. The popliteal space should sit free in the air and not be pinched by the seat pad to allow a proper blood circulation. If your chair can tilt the seat pad, try which position is comfortable so while leaning forward with the seat pad the pelvis is automatically straightened up. Some chairs adjust this automatically and slide forward with a synchronised mechanism which assist with a recommended carefree dynamic body movement while seated.
The backrest should reach at least to your shoulder plates and should have a lumbar support, a curvature in the lower backrest to assist with a straight posture. Adjust the lumbar on your chair so it fits into the curve of your lumbar vertebra either by adjusting the height of the backrest or the height of the integrated lumbar support in the backrest.
A dynamic backrest allows for body movement while seated. Your backrest tilts back when you move back with your upper body. It is recommended to have a tilt mechanism of at least 15 degrees, ergonomically 30. The counter pressure of your chair should be adjustable when seated so it moves back with your body with slight pressure while supporting your back with contact pressure. Some chairs do this automatically and are recommended especially when chairs are used by different people to prevent from wrong individual adjustments.
Additional head rests help relax the neck muscles and should be adjusted to the most comfortable position.
Armrests help relieve arms, neck and shoulders and make getting up and sitting down easy. They should be adjustable, preferably height and width as well as depth to ensure a most effective support for any body size. A good height adjustment makes sure the chair will fit under the desk while working on the keyboard.
step 2: adjust your table
The height of the table needs to assist your arms so they lie comfortably in a 90 degree angle of upper and lower arm on the surface. If you can’t change the height of the table to reach that position use a footrest (see ‘adjust your chair’). Height adjustable tables are a great way to change your working position from a seating to a standing position and are most effective for dynamic movement. The height of the standing desk is correct when upper and lower arm sit comfortably in a 90 degree angle on the desk surface.
The monitor should be positioned head-on, frontal to your keyboard. The height is correct if the first line on the monitor is just beneath your eye-height. Having a slight, natural bend of the head the focus should be straight vertical onto the monitor.
The distance of monitor and eyes depends on the size of the monitor. If you need to focus only on a part of the monitor while reading, the distance should be at least 50-65cm. If the focus is on the whole monitor the distance grows depending on the size of the monitor. 19″ – 70cm, 22″ – 80-90cm are appropriate. The size of the characters need to be adjusted to make sure reading is comfortable and the eyes don’t have to focus too much as they get tired and concentration will decline.
To enable a proper adjustment of the monitor monitor-arms are essential. Easily mounted on any desk they assure a continuous positioning to the individual need.
The keyboard should be positioned 15cm back from the edge of the desk, using the space in front to lay the heel of the hand, in a vertical line with the lower arms. lay the keyboard flat, otherwise the hands are bend too much. If you like use a heel rest to relieve the wrists and keep the mouse close to the keyboard.
Notebooks are not recommended for long term work if the screen is too small and can’t be tilted and the keypad is fixed to the screen. In any case if working with a notebook use an external bigger screen in the office and an additional keyboard and mouse to ensure a proper posture for neck and shoulders.
If you travel a lot using a notebook, make sure you work in a standing position once back in the office. The screen should have anti-glare and a optimal brightness adjustments to prevent eye strain. Do not position your notebook on your lap as this will cause stiff shoulders, neck pain and headaches.