Office workers and WFH employees report suffering from back and neck pain associated with poor posture. Crucially – studies have shown that proper sitting posture at a computer is essential for dealing with stress.
Focus on correct sitting posture is more than just a battle against slouching. It translates to:
- Better longevity.
- Increased productivity.
- More confident body language and stronger personal brand.
Read on to uncover how best to support your neck and spine health; We bet you’re sitting up straight already!
(Related: Best Office Chairs For People With Bad Backs).
What Is The Proper Sitting Posture?
Our understanding of proper sitting posture has improved drastically in recent years, thanks to studies in workplace ergonomics. Ensure the correct sitting position by studying the diagram and following the 10 guidelines below:
- Keep your ears, shoulders and hips “stacked” (aligned in the vertical plane).
- Ensure the monitor or computer screen is positioned at eye level, or slightly below eye level. Use a monitor arm if necessary.
- Use lumbar support to maintain your lower back’s natural curve.
- Don’t lean to one side. Distribute your weight across both hips.
- Check that your head isn’t protruding forward.
- Maintain at least 5 centimetres between the back of your knees and the edge of the chair.
- Ensure your knees are at the same height as your hips or slightly lower.
- Ensure that your ankles are in front of your knees.
- Check that your elbows are at your sides. Don’t flare them!
- Leave 10-15 centimetres between the edge of your desk and keyboard to create space for your wrists.
Talk to your chiropractor about a program of curve reversal, designed to stretch and strengthen ligaments and muscles in your neck, promote restoration of your cervical curve and improve your posture.
7 Bonus Tips To Ensure Correct Sitting Posture.
The correct sitting position is a product of your wider environment and lifestyle habits. Pay attention to the following for extra improvements in your sitting position:
- Upgrade your chair: buy the best ergonomic chair you can afford (how much to spend?)
- Stand up: invest in a standing desk – this is the best way to avoid sitting for prolonged periods every day.
- Shapeshift: Alternate between upright (tasking) and reclined positions in your office chair. You can do this every hour (set a reminder!).
- Relax your shoulders: Know the difference between a relaxed position and slouching – every few hours, roll your shoulders back and pull your shoulder blades together.
- Hydrate: Drink 2-4 litres of water to support muscles and ward off fatigue.
- Promote circulation: Avoid sitting with crossed legs, which can restrict blood flow and lead to slouching.
- Take screen breaks: Shift your gaze to the furthest item away in your surroundings every hour (set a reminder on your phone).
- Motion is lotion. Incorporate movement into your workday with simple exercises you can do at your desk.
Did You Know?
Australian Government offers Medicare rebates (up to 5 per year) for physio treatments of chronic musculoskeletal conditions that either lead to, or are caused by, poor posture. Check with your GP if you qualify.
What Are The Adverse Effects of Bad Posture?
We all know how it feels to be stiff, sore and battling against habitual poor posture.
RSI occurs through repetitive and uncomfortable movements – often typing.
Without our screens at a perfect height, our necks also bear additional weight (up to 30kg!), our shoulders can start to slouch, and our hands and wrists overwork to balance the alignment.
Being unaware of correct posture can lead to the following:
- Neck and back pain.
- Mental and physical fatigue.
- Headaches or migraines.
- Muscle tension.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Rounded shoulders.
- Poor spine alignment.
- Breathing problems.
- Mood swings.
Although it takes time and conscious effort, reversing these effects is possible if you actively and consistently work towards a mindful posture.
Above: Studies show that prolonged sitting leads to chronic health issues. Reduce risks by interrupting prolonged periods with standing and walking.
What Does Good Posture Lead To?
Studies have shown that the correct sitting posture can improve self-confidence and a positive self-image.
There are a host of physical benefits too:
- Improved mood and well-being.
- Less tension in the shoulders and neck.
- Fewer aches from slouching.
- Fewer headaches.
- Increased self-esteem.
- Easier time breathing.
- More energy!
FAQ To Improve Your Sitting Posture.
People ask us for tips for ensuring the correct sitting position at work. Here are the most frequently asked questions.
How High Should My Desk Be?
Keep fine-tuning the height of your desk until your:
- Feet are flat on the floor.
- Knees are just below the level of your hips.
- Wrists are slightly lower than your elbows.
This position alleviates the tension on your pelvis, which relieves strain on your lumbar discs.
(Related: Best Chairs And Stools For Standing Desks).
How Many Hours Of Sitting Is Too Much?
Most Australians sit too much, with 50% reporting they sit all or majority of their time at work.
The more you sit, the more you are at risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity and poor mental health:
- Sitting for fewer than 4 hours each day is considered low risk.
- Sitting for 4–8 hours a day represents a medium risk.
- The risk level increases to high if you sit for over 8 hours daily.
Consider equipping your home office with a standing desk to cut down the amount of time you spend sitting.
Should My Wrists Rest On The Desktop While Typing?
Movement is key. Change the position of your wrists throughout the workday. Alternate between:
- Resting your wrists on the desk.
- Floating your wrists over the keyboard using the strength of your shoulders and arms.
Hovering helps you to avoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and keeps you more active by engaging your shoulder muscles.
How Can I Manage The Risks Of Sedentary Work?
- Take 2-3 minute stretching breaks. One before lunch and one after.
- Make use of smart technology with a fitness tracker. Aim for at least 5,000 steps per day.
- Meeting someone? Go for a walk together instead of sitting down.
- Set a reminder to stand at hourly intervals.
(Related: Surprising Benefits Of Kneeling Chairs).
Bottom Line About Sitting Posture At A Computer.
Ensuring that you sit with proper posture at a computer workstation can significantly improve your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
I encourage you to make small, mindful choices to support your body. These tiny changes will lead to large increases in efficiency, productivity and comfort in the workplace.
As a bonus, by modelling your care for yourself to others, you will create a more sustainable and positive work environment for those around you.