Physio Information

Knowledge is Power

Understand the problem to treat the cause

Is your chair right for you?

We see too many people with workplace injuries that are postural related. Often, these could easily be avoided if told what they are doing wrong! Such injuries include: neck, shoulder and back pains, headache, repetitive strain injuries and many more! Use the following guidelines to check your positioning at your workstation to make sure that you are comfortable.
1: Does your chair fit you?

Most chairs are fine for the "average person". However, being shorter in stature means they are too big for me! The length of the seat is usually too long, i.e. it cuts into the back of my calves and my feet are unable to touch the ground. The back rest is also usually too high, like I'm sitting on a throne fit for a 2-metre tall king!

When looking for a chair, ensure that you sit with your hips as far back on the seat as they can go. The backs of your lower legs should not be touching the edge of the seat.

The backrest should have a built in lumbar support, i.e. a gentle curve in the lower third of the back rest. The backrest should also extend from your buttock area to about shoulder height.

Find a chair with a backrest that is separate from the seat. This allows you to adjust the height of the backrest to align the lumbar support to the curve of your lower back.

Most chairs only have one lever for seat height adjustments. You can get chairs that can adjust the tilt of the backrest and the angle of the seat! More adjustment options mean more flexibility!
2: Use the backrest on your chair

What you are doing wrong: Most people don't use the backrest at all. Many try sitting up too straight causing unnecessary over-activation of your postural muscles. Eventually, your back muscles will fatigue and you will find yourself slouching!

What you should do: Push your hips all the way into the back of the seat and rest your back against the backrest. Recline the back of the chair to about a 100° angle. Ensure the upper and lower back is well supported. Adjust the height of the seat so your feet are flat on the ground, otherwise get a foot stool (or old yellow pages). You should find yourself relax into your chair in a neutral posture without much effort at all.

3: Are your armrests in the way?

What you are doing wrong: If you have armrests on your chair, most often its stopping you from getting the chair close enough to the table. Because of this, you end up slouching with your elbows just touching the armrests to reach your keyboard.

What you should do: If you can, remove the armrests altogether! They are a hindrance as they don't allow you to be close enough to the table anyway! Tuck your chair in as close as you comfortably can with at least ¾ of your forearm resting on the table. With your forearms rested, your shoulders should relax hence preventing tension build-up in the upper neck muscles.

4: Are you sitting too much too long?

We often get engrossed with our work and end up sitting at the desk far too long! You should always get up and get moving. No matter how good your chair may be or how well you are sitting in it, staying in a static position for an extended period does harm to your body. It not only affects your muscular-skeletal health, but also your gastrointestinal, circulatory and cardiac systems.

So, try these tips at work or at home and you will be surprised how the change in your chair or adjustments on your seat can make a significant difference in your positioning, allowing you to be more efficient at the desk with less postural issues.


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