When most people think of workplace injuries they think of injuries sustained through manual labour or on a building site. But, believe it or not, you can get sick working in an office too. Poor posture can contribute to back pain, tiredness, headaches, RSI and other general health problems. Simply improving the way you sit can make you feel happier and more alert, make you more productive, and prevent debilitating health conditions. Back pain in particular is incredibly common. According to a survey conducted by the BackCare charity, almost half of the adult population in the UK reports having experienced back pain that lasts for 24 hours or more in the last year. Many of those cases could be avoided with basic lifestyle changes. This simple guide to proper posture in the workplace will help you to get comfortable in the office.
Get the Right Chair
A good chair will support your back and allow you to sit with your knees level with your hips. If your feet don’t touch the ground, lower your chair or use a footrest. Ideally, the chair should be firm enough to support your back, but soft enough that you don’t end up feeling sore or numb after you sit for a while. If your employer does not provide you with good seating, talk to them about buying better chairs. Investing in good seating could help to improve your productivity and reduce the number of sick days you take.
Arrange Your Work Area Properly
Ideally you should have your feet flat on the floor, with your legs un-crossed. Your screen should be directly in front of you, with the top of the screen at eye level. Your keyboard should be positioned so that your arms are parallel with the floor when you are typing. This will allow you to sit up straight and keep your wrists at a neutral angle when you are typing.
Maintaining proper posture may seem like hard work at first, but it is worth the effort. Ideally, you want to have your back straight and your neck straight. Your ears, shoulders and hips should be in one vertical line. Some people find that sitting on a balance ball helps them to figure out what good posture feels like. The pelvis should be rocked gently forward so that there is a slight lumbar curve. This will naturally shift your shoulders back.
Make sure that you do not have your legs crossed, you are not leaning to one side, and your head is not tilted. Avoid hunching your shoulders.
If you find that it is easy to sit up properly for a few minutes, but over time your posture deteriorates, consider investing in a posture reminder device. These USB devices sit on top of your monitor, and will vibrate or beep if they detect that you are slouching forwards or leaning backwards. After using one of those devices for a while maintaining proper posture should become second nature.