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How to Sit at Your Desk: Steps for a Healthy Workstation.

How you sit at your desk can have a significant impact on your health and productivity. This blog post will provide steps to help you set up your workstation, so you are sitting comfortably and correctly to avoid neck, back, and leg pain. 

Try not to sit for too long

Why sitting at your desk matters

Studies show that sitting is the new smoking. But, while this may be a soundbite, it's still, unfortunately, clear that sitting for too long is bad for you!

Studies show that sitting is the new smoking. But, while this may be a soundbite, it’s still, unfortunately, clear that sitting for too long is bad for you!

It can cause chronic musculoskeletal problems like neck pain, back pain, and leg pain.

What’s more, sitting too long without taking breaks can be unhealthy too–the human body is not made to sit all day!

How can the way you sit lead to neck, back, and leg pain?

Sitting Neutral Posture

Regardless of how you sit at your desk, your posture will be impacted. Sitting with imbalance can lead to chronic pain, such as neck pain, back pain, and leg pain.

Long stretches in front of the computer can create long term issues with slouching and the often seen forward head posture.

You will lose balance and support from below through your Ischial Tuberosities (sitz bones) if you sit incorrectly. This can lead to unevenness in how you balance on sitz bones, leading to a change in the tilt in the pelvis.

This exercise can help you better understand.

Sitting with a tilted pelvis can cause problems with proper sitting posture and cause pain in your neck, back, and legs.

Methods of sitting that are incorrect include sitting: 

  • In a chair with a low seat height, 
  • In a chair with a high seat height,
  • In a recliner without support for the back of the upper body, 
  • At your desk, while leaning on your elbows all day, 
  • At your desk while turning to look at something on your computer monitor.

How sitting too long affects your body.

When spending your day sitting in front of the computer make sure to take regular breaks.

When sitting, we are less active than standing or walking. Sitting for lengthy periods has been linked to several health problems, including:

Follow these steps on sitting comfortably and correctly while working from home or in the office so that it's easier on your body and not as stressful!

Desk and You

  1. Set up your workstation around you, not off to the side or behind where it can be challenging to get up from.
  2. Place items you often use (i.e., phone, mouse, or keyboard) within easy reach so that you don’t have to lean forward or twist much while sitting in a sitting position.
Sitting at your desk

Chair and Good Posture Setup

  1. Sit on an ergonomic chair with adjustable armrests and back support.
  2. Explore correct posture options: sitting with a straight back and feet flat on the floor.
  3. Sit with your sitz bones underneath you, which will support weight and help keep your upper body well-supported!
  4. Keep hips above the height of your knees to sit comfortably in a sitting position without slouching or leaning forward too much.
  5. Make sure you’re sitting close enough to your desk and sitting upright (not leaning over) with forearms parallel to the floor.
  6. Sit in a supported position: sitting up at a desk leaves less stress on the spine.
  7. Sit on an ergonomic chair with adjustable armrests, back support.
  8. Where possible, use lumbar support (to help keep the lower spine in proper alignment).
  9. If too short: use a footrest to avoid sitting for too long and straining your legs or feet. This can have the same effect as having your feet on the floor.

Computer Monitor

  1. Consider ergonomics: make sure you’re sitting close enough to the desk and sitting upright (not leaning over) with your forearms parallel to the floor and wrists straight (not bent or twisted).  
  2. Your monitor should be positioned directly in front of you at eye level, not off to the side or behind, where it can strain your neck muscles while looking up/down for long periods. 
  3. TIP: You may need to use a monitor stand or some books under the screen to bring the monitor up to your preferred height.

Keyboard

  1. The computer keyboard should be positioned so that the forearms are parallel to the floor and the wrists are straight. It should not be too far away or close so that you have to stretch your forearms.
  2. Elbows are bent and kept close to your body. 
  3. It should be in a comfortable position for sitting straight and typing comfortably without hunching over. 
  4. TIP: Use a wrist rest if you need help keeping your wrists straight at the same height as the keys.
Stand up and take a break from your workstation.

Take Breaks

It’s essential to take breaks every 20 minutes. 

When the body has been sitting in one position for a long time, it is vital to move around and stretch.

This will help with blood flow and decrease discomfort.

  1. Sitting for long periods should be followed by standing up.
  2. Stretches and exercises such as bending and stretching your back, neck rolls, and touching your toes to release your leg and back muscles are good starting points.
  3. Walk around. This will help keep you from getting stiff!
  4. If possible, switch to a sit/stand desk so that you can alternate sitting and standing.

If possible, switch to a standing desk so that you can alternate from sitting and standing.

Using a standing desk is a good way to break up a long day at the desk.

Finally

The posture you adopt while sitting at your desk can significantly impact how you feel and how much stress is placed on your body. By following these steps, it’s possible to create an ergonomic workstation that helps with productivity and reduces the risk of injury or discomfort from sitting all day long.  

If you’re looking for more tips about correct sitting posture, be sure to check out our other articles, which cover sitting, standing, and walking posture. Let us know if we’ve missed anything important by leaving your feedback below.

PLEASE NOTE

PostureGeek.com does not provide medical advice. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical attention. The information provided should not replace the advice and expertise of an accredited health care provider. Any inquiry into your care and any potential impact on your health and wellbeing should be directed to your health care provider. All information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical care or treatment.