Last year studies regarding unhealthy practices at the work place singled out sitting too much as a growing concern for most U.S citizens. Most with desk jobs put themselves at risk of serious health complications at their work stations without even realizing it at all. If you are one of the many whose job requires you to sit all day, then it is in your best interest to figure out a way to incorporate standing and stretching exercises into your work routine. Another important preventative measure is to keep yourself informed about the dos and don’ts regarding sitting practices in order to safeguard the health of your spine. Here are 8 tips to help you figure out if you are on the right track:
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1. Improve your sitting posture.
You need to first and foremost familiarize yourself with what good posture looks like. Then you will need to be able to check yourself to see how close you are to the expected standard. In case you come short, make the necessary adjustments. Try to be seated as adjacent as possible to your work table maintaining your arms parallel or analogous to your spine as your hands rest on the desk. You should be aiming to keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle, the same holds true for your knees. This can be achieved by lowering or raising your office chair height. In case you notice that you are beginning to slack then it’s simply your body telling you to take a break. This is the ideal time to stand up and do some stretching exercises or even take a short stroll.
2. Avoid sitting too high.
You should try to avoid sitting in a chair that is too high as this significantly increases the odds for ankle swelling among other repercussions. An average person’s ankles swell by 6 to 8 % at the day’s culmination, with swelling as high as 15 percent experienced in people with a history of circulation, leg and back related problems. Ideally a chair height ranging between 16 to 21 inches from the ground level should be sufficient for most. An easy way of testing if you have the right height is to slide your fingers underneath your thighs around the chair’s front end. If you are at the correct height this will be easy to do. However if you are set too high then you will notice that there is less than a fingers width of space between the seat and your thighs.
3. Boost your feet to fit the occasion.
In unique situations where say your desk happens to be too high meaning there is no comfortable setting on your chair that will work, you could always try a foot stool where you can rest your feet rather than leave them hanging. This can go a long way in decreasing foot related pain thanks to the reduced pressure on your feet. For those that are too tall that they find themselves bumping into the bottom side of their work station when they raise their chair, then a quick solution is to raise the height of your work station. You can use wooden blocks of similar height or any other preferred material as packing. Just be sure that your desk is stable enough first to survive the odd bumps here and there before starting to use it.
4. Ample seat depth.
This refers to the length running from the front edge of your seat to the back edge of your seat. Very few people think to check on this but it is essential to stress that this could make a huge difference to your back pain problems. It is easy to check for correct seat depth. First sit in your chair all the way before checking for space between your calves and front edge of the seat by making at fist and bringing it to the front edge of the chair and pushing it on the calf. If you can fit it in between then that means you have just enough room for circulation in your feet otherwise the chair is way too deep.You can tackle this problem by either inserting a cushion, pillow or rolled up towel to support your lower back or if the chair allows, you can move the chair’s backrest forward. A long lasting more comfortable solution is to get a replacement chair.
5. Support your back.
The main focus of a well-designed ergonomic chair is back support. It should be able to provide back support angling just past 90 degrees or at least up to 90 degrees with cushioning placed in a way that your back is always pushed forward when sitting back in the chair. This will provide the body with the necessary back support to prevent hunching. It should also provide ample backrest space which is why most are basically 12 to 19 inches wide.
6. Actively practice good posture.
Good posture requires a conscious effort from the user in order to instill it as a habit. At various work places you will find workers that have great ergonomic chairs but do not bother to take advantage of all its design features by following unhealthy practices such as sitting only on the chair’s edge. Effort should be made at all times to press your bottom against the back of the chair. Slouching should be avoided at all costs as this places extra stress on structures making up the lower back such as the lumbar discs. Adjust the height of your computer screen. If your job involves you sitting at your work station all day, then its likely that you use a computer as well. Once you have adjusted your chair and table to the point that your back is well supported and your legs are comfortable, close your eyes and inhale deeply. With your eyes still closed, calmly look forward before finally opening your eyes. Where you end up gazing is where the center of your computer screen should be. Adjust the screen so that its center line is level with your gaze. For laptop users you can consider raising it with the help of a stack of books or even a small box. This will work to reduce neck strain related problems.
7. Adjust your armrest accordingly.
Armrests are also very well thought out components of an ergonomically designed chair as they mainly reduce neck pain and shoulder strain. They also to a large extent diminish the likelihood of you drooping forward in your chair. If needed, adjust the armrest so that it just about supports the elbow at the point where your arms are a touch lifted at the shoulders with the armrests serving to take the burden off the shoulders.
8. Invest in a new and ergonomically correct office chair.
After making all these vital adjustments you may eventually feel its best you invest in a new office chair better suited to the task. Before making a down payment on a suitable replacement be sure to take into account important seat factors such as: materials, lumbar support, swivel, depth, height, width and armrests.