In any given work week, there are millions of people sitting in office chairs anywhere from eight to eleven hours a day. This causes extreme stress to the back, arms, shoulders and legs because of the static posture from sitting for so long. Because the natural tendency while sitting is to slouch, this leads to straining in parts of the back, and prolonged straining eventually causes permanent damage. Individuals must be aware of the way that they sit in order to actively correct their posture. This is only one of the many steps that can be taken to lessen the likeliness of injury.
Posture Varies by Chair
While sitting in an office chair, hips should be pushed back as far as they can go, as this helps the shaped back of the chair support your back. If you are sitting in a hard-backed, straight chair, it is recommended to scoot up to sit just at the edge, and do not slouch into the back of the chair. Over time, sitting like this becomes more comfortable. When sitting in a lounge chair, feet should be kept flat on the floor and your back should be straight. Shoulders should be back and you should be sitting as far forward on the chair as possible.
The reason that shoulders should be kept back is to avoid slouching and hunching when sitting. This strains the neck and shoulders, and can lead to headaches and chronic pain. Chairs should not be leaned backwards and you should not be slouched forward, as this can strain the sciatic nerve and shoulder muscles. When you know you’re going to be sitting for a longer period of time, it is good to rock gently. Rocking mildly like this helps to keep the body balanced and active.
The seat height of the chair should be adjusted to fit your own body. The chair should be attuned so that your feet are flat on the floor and knees are slightly lower or even with your hips. Sitting too low in the chair can lead to straining in the neck, while sitting too high can lead to tired shoulders. To get a bit more scientific, the back of a passive reclining office type should be at a 100-110 degree angle, it should not be perfectly straight as this is more comfortable and supportive.
The most important thing is that the upper and lower back need to be supported. There should be some support from the back of the chair supporting the spine on both sides. If this is not provided, it is possible to make it yourself. Small pillows (stuffed or inflated) just above your hips will do the trick. When sitting for longer periods of time, utilizing the chair to rock back and forth when working can keep stress off of the back a bit. Although not necessary for support, armrests, if utilized, will need to be adjusted accordingly. They should be adjusted so that the shoulders are relaxed and wrists are even with the keyboard when typing.
It is sometimes easy to forget that while sitting a certain way is more comfortable than sitting properly, in the long run sitting with correct posture can prevent pain and injury. It more than likely will not be immediate and will develop slowly over time. Taking notice and actively changing posture from slouching to straight can reduce the risk of these repeated stress injuries that happen over time. It really is just a few easy steps that need to be taken to ensure that care is being taken regarding posture.