Sitting pretty: Proper sitting posture
with advice from Richard Baudry, PT, DPT, OCS
and Dandelion Dreams, Inc.
Most of us spend more time at the office than we do at home, which is why it’s so important to consider how our behavior at the office can affect how we feel at home. If you sit at your computer for several hours each day, are you sitting pretty?
Before you look at yourself in the mirror, reflect on your desk and workspace. Specifically, says Alan Zovar, a physical therapist that works at Dandelion Dreams, Inc., (a Physiquality partner), you should think about the angles in your body as they interact with your desk. Your eyes should be approximately 18 inches away from your computer screen, he says, and they should align with the middle of the screen, to avoid looking down or up too much, which could cause neck strain in the long run. In the same manner, your chair should be centered with the monitor to minimize twisting the head in order to see the screen.
Take a look at your chair now, and how you sit in it. Adjust the chair’s height in order to be able to rest your elbows at about a 90-degree angle on your desk; if the chair’s arms get in the way, it’s probably better to remove them, Alan notes.
Your forearms should be parallel to your desk and your wrists should be as flat as possible. Alan suggests using mouse and keyboard supports to maintain this posture. And your knees should also be bent at a 90-degree angle. If your feet don’t reach the floor, you can use a foot support in order to properly support the weight of your legs.
Once your desk is properly set up, you can think about your sitting posture. Lumbar support is essential to support the back and reduce back strain. If your office chair is not supportive enough, you can purchase a back support like the Kiss My Back! support from Dandelion Dreams, Inc. The back support will reinforce the natural curve of the lumbar spine. In turn, this straightens the neck, shoulders and upper back. When you’re sitting at your desk, your torso, neck and head should all be upright, without any slouching or straining.
Other office behaviors are just as important, reminds Richard Baudry, a physical therapist and the founder of Baudry Therapy Center, a Physiquality member in the New Orleans area. He cautions workers to keep their desk — and the space underneath it — clear of clutter, in order to enable easy movement around your workstation. Frequent phone users should use a headset to avoid balancing the phone between their shoulder and ear, which can create neck and back pain. And frequent movement is key — stand up once an hour to stretch your back or take a walk to the building cafeteria to grab a drink.
If you’re concerned about your workspace, use this OSHA worksheet to evaluate how your desk is set up. Or contact a physical therapist near you to evaluate your entire office, ensuring a healthier — and happier — team.
Richard Baudry, PT, DPT, OCS, is the founder and CEO of Baudry Therapy Center, a Physiquality member in New Orleans, Louisiana. Richard specializes in the management and rehabilitation of orthopedic and sport related injuries, and he has more than 20 years of clinical and managerial experience in the field of physical therapy, fitness and sports training.
Physiquality partner Dandelion Dreams, Inc. helps you sit comfortably with Kiss My Back!® products. Reinforcing the natural curve of the lumbar spine, the flexible, body-conforming design of Kiss My Back! back supports and chair cushions provides excellent spinal stability and comfort.
For further reading, look through our selection of articles on health and wellness, in addition to the below links:
Fifteen simple steps you can take every day to work healthier. Baudry Therapy Center, March 16, 2017.
Office ergonomics: Your how-to guide. Mayo Clinic, April 20, 2016.
Marras, William. Proper sitting posture for typing. WebMD, May 22, 2015.
Computer workstations eTool. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Final image © Rochelle Hartman.