Correct Your Office Chair Posture and Prevent Back Strain

Posted by Breanna Sheldon on : October  23,  2017

It’s common knowledge that long-term sitting and poor office chair posture negatively affect our health. However, many people still do not know how to sit in their office chair properly. The correct chair posture and the relationship between the chair, keyboard and monitor, can reduce or prevent Repetitive Motion Injuries (RMI), Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Eye Strain and Back and Neck Strain. Back Strain, which often spreads to the Neck area, can be debilitating. Workstation design as well as choosing the right office furniture can help to ward off the health risks of sitting at the office for long periods of time.

Workstation Design

Setting up your workstation to avoid back strain from the beginning is critical when spending long hours at the computer. A good workstation design can encourage proper desk posture. Pay attention to the height of the keyboard, the angle of your arms, and the angle at which the chair supports your back. The chair height, seat angle and foot rest position all effect the circulation in your lower legs. Your computer monitor should be at a comfortable distance, about 20″-30″ away.

Humanscale M2 Flat Panel Monitor Arm

Office Chair Posture

If you’ve inherited an old office chair, it may not be ideal for preventing back strain and encouraging the right way to sit in a chair. Create the ideal chair posture with a chair that has a high back, adjustable arms, an adjustable seat that can tilt, and wheels on the base. Here are some tips for adjusting your office chair to fit your body and prevent back strain:

  • Back Support Angle

Back support is a critical part of proper desk posture. High back chairs are best – they should support the back up to the shoulder blades. Never sit leaning forward in your desk chair. Sit back slightly at around a 110-degree angle, with the chair back firmly against you. This angle supports good circulation, and ensures that you’re using the chair back for support.

  • Chair Seat Angle

Adjust the seat of your chair so there’s about 3″ between the back of your knees and the edge of the seat. An ergonomic chair design curves slightly downward in front to avoid pressure on the back of the leg. Adjust as needed so the chair seat slopes gently away from your body. Set the height of the seat so that your feet rest flat on the floor. In the ideal chair posture, your knees should be slightly lower than your hips.

  • Arm Rest Angle

Correct arm positioning isn’t just for preventing wrist problems. It is also an essential element of knowing how to sit in your chair. Typing without arm support for long periods can cause muscle strain and spasm in the upper back and neck. Adjust the chair so your arms hang naturally from your shoulder and rest on the armrests. Tilt the armrests slightly forward, so your forearms slope down towards the keyboard. The keyboard should be flat, and positioned low enough that you can rest your arms naturally on the armrests while typing.

  • Neck Position

Neck position is affected by the angle of your spine and the height of your monitor. Human spines are naturally perpendicular to the ground, and our eyes look slightly down. Adjust your chair posture so you can work with your head and neck in a natural upright position. Position your monitor so that your eyes are looking straight across or slightly down, without having to tilt your head. If you find yourself tempted to hunch over or lean forward, keep making small adjustments to your chair posture and monitor until it feels right. Now you’re sitting comfortably in a way that’s natural for your back and neck, and supports your back.

Humanscale L6 Laptop Holder

Products That Help Prevent Back and Neck Strain

Workstations that accommodate the way people naturally move and sit are the key to preventing back and neck strain. Improve your workstation design by upgrading and adding ergonomic accessories to help your office chair posture.

  • Office Desk Chair

A quality office chair is worth the investment. Sturdy construction and fabrics designed for heavy use will last many years. Make sure any chair you buy adjusts for correct chair posture – back angle, seat height and angle, and armrest angle. Some people find a footrest is useful for changing the leg position. If someone is very short, a footrest helps create the right chair posture. While high back chairs may make a small office space seem crowded, a high back chair is the best way to maintain proper desk posture.

  • Monitor Mount

Use a monitor mount – look for one that has up-and-down adjustments, and tilts. If you’re typing from a document, make sure your document holder is the same height as your monitor and right beside it, so a quick glance is all you need.

  • Laptop Stand

If you use a laptop, add a stand to hold your laptop in the correct monitor position, and use an external keyboard. Working on a laptop that’s sitting on your desk can force you sit in a hunched-forward position with your hands typing on a desk surface that’s too high. A laptop stand can help settling into the correct posture when sitting.

  • Recliners

Take advantage of having a laptop to change your seating position throughout the day – if you have an office with lounge seating or recliners, working with a laptop in a reclined position gives you a break from desk sitting. Be aware of how the seating angle affects your posture and the angle of your head to avoid neck strain. Return to your desk after an hour or two.

  • Keyboard Support

A Keyboard Tray or Support is just as important as a quality chair for the best office chair posture. If your desk doesn’t have one, they can be ordered as accessories from your “one stop shop” office furniture supplier.

  • Stand Up Workstations

It’s well known that standing all day is detrimental to overall health, but spending part of your workday at a standing desk has great benefits. Working in a standing position burns 20% more calories than sitting. Standing puts your head and neck in their natural position, and standing for short periods of time is good for circulation. Adjustable Height Desks can be set to a comfortable height:

Sit-Stand Workstations can be used both ways. Be sure to check the height of your Standing Desk and keyboard to maintain the best angle for typing. To prevent back strain, you need to be in a full standing position, not slouching or leaning on the desk for support.

If you’re working in an outdated office space and need to make a lot of upgrades, there’s a point where replacing the whole workstation makes sense. If your budget doesn’t allow for a complete office redesign, consider adding ergonomically designed mobile workstations where they’re needed most:

These Herman Miller workstations are fully adjustable. With a matching high-back office chair, they support the best chair posture for prevention of back and neck strain.

To stay healthy and prevent back strain, be sure to take small breaks every hour to stretch or walk for a few minutes. Move to a lounge or standing position for an hour or two during the day. And perhaps share a midday stretching break with your co-workers.

Herman Miller Canvas L-Shape Desk

Are you sitting in the correct chair for you?

Benhar Office Interiors offers a variety of products and furnishings including ergonomic office chairs for any individual style and comfort preference to avoid the health risks of prolonged sitting in the office.

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