Office Chairs and Sitting

05_p56_sitting-in-chair2.jpg, an online furniture store, invited me to contribute to a discussion of office furniture on its blog.  I joined fourteen other fitness and posture experts to discuss sitting and office work in general. Below I’m sharing the questions I was asked and my responses. 

1. What are some tips to improve posture while at your desk?

  • Raise (or lower) your chair seat so your thighs are slanted downhill (knees below hip joints). Sit with your body’s weight 75% your thighs and only 25% on your buttocks. This orientation of your pelvis establishes a broad foundation for your spine and makes it easier to sit erect. It also make your feet an vital part of your support system.
  • Once your seat is at the correct height, adjust the height of your monitor so your line of sight is level with the upper third of the screen. 
  • Adjust the height of your keyboard (and desk) so your wrists are on the same plane as your elbows.
  • Take frequent breaks to stretch, walk around and change your visual focus.

2. For offices with raisable desks, how much time should someone switch between sitting and standing for the most comfort?

  • Spend at least as much time standing up as sitting, preferably more. Everyone’s body is different: listen to what feels comfortable for your own body. If you have always worked seated, it may take time for your body to become accustomed to standing.
  • Wear flat-heeled shoes while standing.
  • Stand on an ergonomic floor mat that provides both cushioning and support

3. Are there any tools, accessories, or furniture that are best suited for having good posture throughout a workday?

  • Adjustable-height desk or laptop cart that is easy to adjust. If it's not easy, you won't take the time to raise it.
  • Chairs should have a firm and flat seat, adjustable height, and the ability to tilt and swivel in response to movement of the body. Bankers’ chairs are a good option.
  • Avoid chairs with armrests, especially if they raise the elbows above waist level. In general, chairs with armrests limit movement.
  • Avoid padded seats and “bucket” seats that encourage the pelvis to roll back.
  • Ergonomic floor mats for standing should provide both cushioning and firmness. You should be able to sense movement in your foot bones and ankles when standing. Subtle micromovements in your feet helps keep your connective tissues hydrated.

4. What's the most important factor to keep in mind when sitting at a desk for long periods of time?

  • The human body is geared for large, whole body movements, not stillness. Take a “stretch break” every 20 minutes and walk around for 5 minutes every hour.
  • Modern work harms the eyes by keeping them trained in one direction. This use of the eyes also invites neck and shoulder strain. Give your eyes a break by frequently looking into the far distance and by tuning in to your peripheral vision.

To read other experts’ contributions, go here. Notice the contrast between my illustration of good chair height and the one you’ll see on Wayfair’s blog. As soon as it’s ready I’ll post the link to my Talk at Google so you can hear what I really want to say to people who sit all day.

© 2017 Mary Bond