with advice from Clifton Rizer, DPT, CSCS, ATret
Most of us spend more time at the office than we do at home, which is why it’s so important to consider how our behavior at the office can affect how we feel at home. If you sit at your computer for several hours each day, are you sitting pretty?
Before you look at yourself in the mirror, reflect on your desk and workspace. Specifically, you should think about the angles in your body as they interact with your desk. Your eyes should be approximately 18 inches away from your computer screen and they should align with the middle of the screen, to avoid looking down or up too much, which could cause neck strain in the long run. In the same manner, your chair should be centered with the monitor to minimize twisting the head in order to see the screen.
Take a look at your chair now, and how you sit in it. Adjust the chair’s height in order to be able to rest your elbows at about a 90-degree angle on your desk; if the chair’s arms get in the way, it’s probably better to remove them.
Your forearms should be parallel to your desk and your wrists should be as flat as possible. Use mouse and keyboard supports to maintain this posture. And your knees should also be bent at a 90-degree angle. If your feet don’t reach the floor, you can use a foot support in order to properly support the weight of your legs.
Once your desk is properly set up, you can think about your sitting posture. Lumbar support is essential to support the back and reduce back strain. If your office chair is not supportive enough, you can use a rolled up towel or purchase a back support like the LoveHome Memory Foam Lumbar Support Back Cushion https://amzn.to/2uVEB0y The back support will reinforce the natural curve of the lumbar spine. In turn, this straightens the neck, shoulders and upper back. When you’re sitting at your desk, your torso, neck and head should all be upright, without any slouching or straining.
Other office behaviors are just as important keep your desk — and the space underneath it — clear of clutter, in order to enable easy movement around your workstation. Frequent phone users should use a headset to avoid balancing the phone between their shoulder and ear, which can create neck and back pain. And frequent movement is key — stand up once an hour to stretch your back or take a walk to the building cafeteria to grab a drink.
If you’re concerned about your work space, use this OSHA worksheet to evaluate how your desk is set up. Or contact a physical therapist near you to evaluate your entire office, ensuring a healthier — and happier — team.