Is your chair causing pain in your productivity?
Think about how much of your day you spend in your office, sitting in that one chair, and working at the computer. Are you aware of pain in different parts of your body as you sit in that chair? If you have a chair this causing you pain, what kind of day are you going to have? How productive can you be when you are distracted and uncomfortable? Being productive in your office begins with having a good foundation and that foundation begins with a proper office chair.
You have probably already guessed, but what I'm talking about here is office ergonomics, the science of how man and his work environment relate.
Ergonomics applies to all areas of our life but for today let’s think about the lowly office chair. For a many of us, about a third of our life, and much of our work day, is spent sitting in front of our computer screen. Here are some strategies that can help you to improve your sitting posture.
A great office chair will allow you to have your feet flat on the floor your knees at 90° your hips at 90° your back will be straight with a slight lumbar curve, your head will be over your shoulders and not jutted forward. A study from 2006 stated that increasing the angle of the chair back to 135° was helpful for lowering the incidence of back pain. That for many office workers is something you might want to keep in mind.
Your eye level for reading will be appropriate to the screen; you be gazing slightly downward into the screen with your arms resting comfortably on your armrests. Your shoulders will be relaxed, and your hand will rest comfortably for using the mouse and/or the track pad.
Here are six ways you can improve the use of your office chair:
- Sit only for a few minutes at a time: standup take some deep breaths, perform some office worker stretches, and sit back down. This will change the way that your body is bearing your weight, you help rehydrate the discs in your spine by moving, and the stretching will help alleviate any tension that's beginning to build. Here is a helpful resource for office stretches from the Mayo Clinic.
- If you have adjustable armrests, position them so that they're not forcing your shoulders to rise up towards your ears. Your shoulders should be comfortably relaxed with your forearm relaxing on the armrest.
- Change the position of your chair throughout the day. Don’t face in the same direction with your head slightly turned left or right for any long periods of time.
- Try sitting on an exercise ball, a different chair, or using a standing desk, for part of the day, or even an ergonomic cycle that would allow you to position your work in front of you and pedal away while you read, or do some work on the computer. Weight bearing changes allow you to relax the muscles that have been in a static position for a long time, and to stretch your muscles, especially in your hips. Sitting for extended periods can cause these muscles to shorten.
- The height of your chair should allow you to view your computer screen at an appropriate level. You want to be gazing slightly downward into the screen to read so you avoid having your chin jutting forward, and causing you to lean forward bearing weight throughout the upper part of your spine. Your screen might even need to be slightly lower if you were bifocals, to maintain proper alignment.
- If you need to increase the size of the text on your screen, go to the accessibility button in the control panel of your computer and increase the font size. Your eyes be more rested, you won't be jutting your chin forward, your back will stay relaxed and you'll get more work accomplished. Look away from your screen periodically, close your eyes for a few seconds. Staring at the screen for long periods of time can lead to dryness and burning feeling in your eyes. Intense concentration on the screen can cause you to blink less often, further drying your eyes.
Being comfortable at your workstation is a great productivity booster! Have a seat, and have a great day!