This article aims to provide a rapid, practical checklist of good postural habits for people working at a desk so as to lower the risk of the many postural injuries we routinely see in clinic.
Your Seated Body
- Keep your head up, chin tucked in, shoulders relaxed
- Ensure your elbows are tucked in, your arms and hands broadly horizontal, avoid flexing or extending your wrists
- Ensure your thighs are at around 45 degrees to the top half of the body, and your feet flat on the ground – remove high heals at the desk!
- Edge well back in your chair, sitting tall and maintaining the slightly extended curvature of your lower back
- Adjust your backrest to support the small of your back
- Do away with armrests – which encourage slouching – and ensure that your elbows are at same height as the keyboard
- Push your keyboard back from the edge of the table to give your hands and wrists the space to remain aligned
- Position your mouse as close as possible to the keyboard, and favour keyboard functions over mouse wherever possible
- Set your screen square on, and the top of it just below eye level – if you have a laptop, ensure you have a separate screen and keyboard
- Adjust your screen to remove any glare
- Have a document holder and position it as close to the screen as possible – use eyes rather than neck for reading and touchtyping
- Remove any clutter from under your desk
Managing Health during the Working Day
- No-one can maintain good posture for long – set your computer timer to remind you every hour to get up and walk about for a bit
- Use that break to do a few simple neck and shoulder movements: head forward/back, rotating right/left, ear to shoulder right/left, roll shoulders backwards and forwards, repeating each 4-6 times
- Keep a 1.5L bottle of water close to hand; sip at regular intervals aiming to finish the bottle in the day
- Leave your desk at lunch – eating and working do not mix well!
If you are looking for a good desk chair, you may want to look at the Bambach saddle seat which was designed by an Australian therapist to maintain optimal posture – but remember that the secret of good posture resides in… not remaining seated too long!
If you have any views or questions, please contact Mathieu or Peter by email or phone (01895 20 00 50). We would love to hear your feedback, and any suggestions for future topics too. You can also leave a comment on our blog here.