The problem: your whole life you have been told that you should sit up straight.
Your parents may have started this. Then at school and work they would have carried it on and now you may even tell your children "sit up straight"!
Of course sitting with a nice straight back preserving the "J" curve in your low back and keeping your chest forward is so much better than slouching!
I want to time you how long you are going to last... Maybe 20 minutes? Maybe not...
Be honest, how long and how staright you are during your 8 hour desk job?
Sitting straight puts excessive pressure on the joints of the spine, it loads the discs and weakens the spinal muscles.
Because all of your weight centres on the lowest three joints of the back this makes them uncomfortable and the position impossible to maintain for longer than 20 minutes.
It's for this reason most people slouch at work as sitting straight is not comfortable or easy to maintain.
Especially if you do office work for 6 to 8 hours a day.
This is how you should NOT sit at your desk
The answer: really is very simple. The only way to maintain posture is if your chair is setup to fully support you and your back so you can relax in it with no effort. Let me show you how.
- Firstly Your lower back has a inward curve in it, you have to maintain this at all times. No matter how good your chair, he best way is with Mckenzie roll as this fully protects the curve.
- Secondly you do NOT want to sit vertically with your hips at 90 degrees as this is impossible to maintain, however if you recline backwards slightly up to 45 degrees it is not only very comfortable but much more difficult to slouch.
- Finally if you try this posture you may feel you now can't reach your desk properly. The answer is to slightly lower your chair so your feet are on the floor and sit more under the desk resting your forearms on it comfortably.
Workstation good posture
Please read below in more detail:
We would advise you to sit at your desk as comfortable and relaxed as you can:
1. The backrest is slightly reclined, this takes a lot of pressure off your low back. This also extends (bends it backwards) the natural curvature of your back, making it more comfortable. If your chair doesn't allow for this mild recline and low back support, use one of this McKenzie foam rolls or other low back support cushions to support your low back. If your chair doesn't recline, get a new one right away!
2. Notice, that the shoulders are relaxed to avoid tension in the neck, because the armrests are low enough to allow for that. If your chair has armrests, lower them down or take them off completely to suit your arm length. Your chair armrests must be removed if they don't allow your chair to be moved under the table.
3. The wrists are resting on the table supported in front of the keyboard, not suspended over it. Move your keyboard deeper into the table to allow for that and move your chair deeper under the table top to let your arms rest comfortably not reaching too far and not to be tucked in too close to your body.
4. Your knees are under the table to provide a correct distance for your arms to reach keyboard and mouse, also to have a correct distance between your eyes and the monitor. This helps to avoid straining your eyes and protruding your head forward. It is not good to be too close to the monitor, it should be approximately on the distance of the arm reach and eye leveled.
5. Your feet can be rested on the foot stand to keep your legs in the relaxed position. When your desk is slightly lower and chair fits well under the table, you might not need foot stand, providing your feet comfortably resting on the floor.
6. Make sure the height of the chair in relation to your table is correct to ensure all above. Most of the chairs can be adjusted, you just need to find a correct lever.
7. Monitor must be in front of you, not on the side. If it is on the side you will be looking sideways all the time, causing uneven tension in the neck. You will also be twisting your shoulder to reach and use the mouse, causing tightness and pain in the shoulder.
8. Make sure to take frequent breaks - at least every 30 minutes and stretch your neck and shoulders using few simple stretches, recommended by your chiropractor.
9. When on the phone, don't type at the same time, unless using a hands free and please don't hold your phone using your shoulder.
10. You have to feel comfortable all day long and if it's not the case, try to think where is the problem , read this again and try to re-adjust your position at the desk.
11. See your chiropractor if you have stiff neck and shoulders, they will guide you through to a relaxed and painless posture at work and at home.
12. Check out our "Driving without pain" section for the advice on posture when driving.
This is how you should sit at your desk (Video)
P.S. My advice is based on common sense and Laws of Physics - when sitting straight, gravity squashes your spine and makes you slouch.
Leaning back will distribute your weight along the back of the chair and help you to "open up" your shoulders saving your back and neck from stress making it impossible to slouch.
Even Barack Obama follows my advice!
Nicely reclined with back supported, leg supported on the base of the chair, shoulders relaxed even when dealing with bad news...
(Souldn't be crossing the leg though...)
This picture is property of Sky News
Low Back Support Famous McKenzie Lumbar Roll
Lumbar support pillows are made from special foam, which is relatively hard but comfortable.
Thoroughly recommended the "McKenzie Lumbar Roll" you can see in the banner on the right of the page.
It has saved me and many of my patients at times of back pain and prevented it later!
If you know anybody, who works in the office and suffers with back and neck pain or stiffness, send them this page using the email link in the right top corner of this article.
P.S. The person to talk to for impartial office furniture advice is Paul Crayford who supplies our office seating at the clinic and who can be found on this number in London 07813726202