Healthy
Sitting
Guide

Maintaining Good Posture

It is simple for anyone to achieve a healthy sitting posture with a well-designed and correctly adjusted operator or task chair.

Ideally the chair size should be chosen to suit the user; which is one of the reasons why we manufacture so many different ranges. On our chairs all the controls are easy to reach, but it is just as important that the other elements of a workstation are suitable and correctly positioned for the task that is to be undertaken.

The chair must be close to the desk to avoid the need for the operator to lean forward for long periods of time and the desk height must be level with their elbows. The seat height must be set so that the operators hips are slightly higher than the knees, whilst their feet are flat on the floor.

If this cannot be achieved, because the desk is too high, then a footrest should be used. The top of the computer screen should be positioned at eye level.

The key to healthy sitting is to maintain a natural, “S” shaped spinal curve. This will minimise uneven compression of the spinal discs and muscular strain, whilst improving respiration and circulation. The operator should sit back into the chair thereby maintaining contact with the orthopaedically contoured backrest.

The height of the backrest should be adjusted so that the lumbar support is positioned adjacent to the inward curve of the lower back.

The provision of a forward tilting seat can also be helpful as it rotates the pelvis forward thereby naturally encouraging the healthy “S” shape curve.

All operator and task chairs have the facility to recline the backrest. This adjustment should be used sparingly as it changes the angle between the seat and back and could result in the pelvis rotating backwards and loss of the “S” shaped spinal curve position. The choice of a synchro mechanism will minimise this effect since the seat moves along with the back to maintain good posture.

Below you will find 10 tips that can help you to avoid back problems:

1. Posture

Correct posture helps prevent back pain by keeping the back and spine in a natural position. Referred to medically as “neutral spine” this involves standing straight and not “rounding”. An easy way to accomplish this is to imagine there is a string at the top of your head lifting you up. Try to prevent your shoulders rolling forwards and maintain the natural “S-curve” of your spine. Another tip is to wear flat shoes. Shoes with high heels tend to put pressure on the lower back.

2. Take a break, keep moving

If you work in an environment where you are in the same position for long periods of time be sure to try and force yourself to take a break from your static position and move around a little. A good way to do this is to try and get up to speak to colleagues in your office rather than emailing them or phoning their extension.

3. Lift Correctly

Be sure to use correct technique when lifting objects. This means keeping your back straight and bending at the knees to lift the weight. Make sure the load you are lifting is not too heavy and always ask for help if you need it. Another point to note is to plan your route so as to avoid twisting or turning your body awkwardly while transporting whatever it is that you are lifting.

4. Get an Ergonomic Office Chair

If you spend your working hours at a desk in an office environment you should definitely invest in an Ergonomic Office Chair. These types of chairs are designed to help keep your body in as natural a position as possible while you are seated and provide you with many features that ensure the chair can be correctly fitted for your body. An Ergonomic Chair can make all the difference when it comes to sitting correctly and is highly recommended. At Posture Team we have trained staff who can help you to choose the best chair for your body shape and type of work. For more information see Choosing an Ergonomic Office Chair or our Ergonomic Chairs Section.

5. Get a good mattress and sleep comfortably

A good mattress can make all the difference to how you sleep. Sleeping comfortably is also important to prevent back pain. Many medical practitioners recommend sleeping on your back or side and avoiding sleeping on your front however you are the best person to judge this and should find what works for you. Your mattress should not be too soft or too firm and should provide optimum support.

6. Exercise

Regular exercise such as walking, swimming and cycling will help keep your whole body strong and will help strengthen you back to prevent further problems. Always consult a qualified medical practitioner such as your GP if you are planning to start an exercise program and are suffering from back problems.

7. Don't forget your front

Many people with back problems tend to focus solely on their back when stretching and strengthening. This is possibly one of the biggest errors that can lead to further problems. The abdominal and back muscles work together to support the spine and upper body so neglecting the abdominal area can result in it weakening or causing the back muscles to have to take more strain.

8. Maintain a healthy weight

More weight equals more strain on the back muscles and spine. Being overweight or carrying excess weight around the abdominal area can cause back problems as the additional weight will place a greater strain on your back.

9. Avoid smoking

Smoking decreases the amount of oxygen available to your body and stopping smoking (if you do) can aid healing of back injuries as more oxygen will be available to your body.

10. Minimise risk

Back problems can be avoided by minimising the risks in your environment that could cause you further injury or strain. This can mean dealing with any objects that could cause you to trip, fall, strain or slip. Objects can include things such as stray wires from electronic equipment, mats that are not secured to the floor and even objects that you might use frequently but store very low, causing you to bend down frequently. By minimising the risks in your environment you will reduce the likelihood of suffering further back problems.

For more information on how to properly set up your desk read our top tips for creating a healthy workstation.