Over thousands of years, our bodies have adapted to meet the many challenges of daily life. Until quite recently, this involved a great deal of movement and physically demanding activity but, given rapid technological advancement, many occupations now require long periods of sitting. Human beings, however, are not well-suited to a sedentary lifestyle, often suffering various aches and pains as a result. The first step in preventing these injuries is to create a body-friendly workspace. Here’s how:
A comfortable workstation begins with the right office chair, so taking the time to find one suited to your dimensions is crucial. If the chair has some features that are right for your body, but others that aren’t (are the arm rests too far apart or is the headrest too high or too low?), keep searching. If you settle, you may end up putting unnecessary strain on your body to compensate for your chair’s shortcomings.
Once you find the right chair it’s time for some fine tuning. First, adjust the chair so that your work surface is at elbow height. Next, place your feet flat on the floor and check if your knees are in line with your hips. If the chair is too high, you may need a footrest. Many designs are available for purchase but items found in most offices, such as a small stepladder or a large book, will work just as well.
No matter how perfect your chair may be, concentrate on maintaining good posture. Many of us naturally sit forward in our chairs, hunching over in order to see our computers. This position puts a great deal of stress on the neck and back, leading to tightness and discomfort. Instead, sit back in your chair and keep your head and neck straight. This will allow you to take advantage of the ergonomic lumbar support your chair offers and take the strain off of your neck and upper back.
Choosing the right desk will largely depend on the demands of your occupation and the size of your work area but there are two criteria that are a must. First, select a desk that offers ample leg room, permitting both easy clearance for your knees and space to swivel from side to side. Second, choose a desk with a surface large enough so that your necessities are within easy reach.
These days, a workstation isn’t complete without a computer. However, a poorly positioned monitor can undo several of the benefits of the perfect chair and desk.
Monitors should be positioned directly in front of you, approximately an arm’s length away. As for height, the monitor should be situated so that, when sitting back in your chair maintaining good posture, your natural gaze meets the center of the screen. While this varies from person to person, positioning the monitor so that the top of the screen is in line with your nose is good rule of thumb. If necessary, your screen can be raised using books or a stand.
Even with an ideal workspace, your body still needs to move around, so remember to take regular walking and stretching breaks. Your muscles and joints will thank you!