Sitting in a static position all day places a large amount of pressure on the intervertebral discs (IVDs) and limits the amount of liquid exchange taking place which feeds the IVDs and brain with nutrients. Therefore, it is suggested that you change postures every 30 minutes to promote a dynamic activation which allows for the liquid exchange to take place. There also needs to be an increase in standing / walking in the workplace. Standing increases blood flow, reduces the static load, refreshes, and re-energises, and offers many biomechanical benefits.
Here are 6 tips to help you sit more ergonomically:
- The more adjustable the chair the better! Everyone is different which means we each need to adjust the chair to our own specifications. The chair should support and mimic your unique spinal movement and allow for a full range of healthy postures throughout the day.
- When seated at your desk and shoulders relaxed, your arms should be at a 90° angle to the desk, and seat height adjustment may be needed. For shorter users, this may result in your feet hanging. Both feet need to be flat on the floor or invest in a footrest. This evenly distributes the weight over the seat eliminating pressure on the thighs and knees. Thighs should also be parallel to the ground.
- When seated, your lower back needs to be against the backrest. Your seat depth needs to be adjusted so that there is about 3cm between the seat and the back of your knees. This evenly distributes weight and relieves pressure from the back of the legs. Furthermore, it enables contact with the backrest which supports the spine.
- It is encouraged to recline in your chair and has a back tension that feels natural (not forced or too easy). This encourages movement, postural change and helps reduce static pressure on the spine. Frequent movement is essential for good spinal health. When you recline, more of your body weight is supported by your chair rather than your spine.
- Having lumbar support promotes the natural S-shape of the spine. Lumbar support must be adjusted to fit in the curve of the back.
- The armrest height should be even with the work surface. This is a natural and appropriate level of support for the neck and shoulders.
Your chair is a large part of your workstation so make sure you set it up correctly and remember to adjust your screen to eye level height as well.