Do you sometimes get up from your chair at the end of the day with back pain? Maybe you have a numbing pain in your shoulder that lasts for days?
And I know why. Sometimes I’m simply not paying attention to how I’m sitting. I plonk down in my chair, get busy, and then sit for hours in an awkward position without even noticing.
I should know better.
There are a bunch of mistakes we are making at our desks that are very bad for our bodies. They can cause excruciating pain, and sometimes long-term damage.
But sometimes I forget to check myself, and by the time I notice, it’s too late.
So here are the 5 most common mistakes we are making all the time.
You can watch this video, or read on…
Which ones are you making?
1. YOU’RE NOT MOVING ENOUGH
Our bodies were not designed to sit still for long periods of time, but today, that’s what most of us do!
The best thing you can do for your body is to constantly change your seating position.
Get up more often. When you talk on the phone, get out of your chair and walk around. Get up to get a drink or fresh air. Go and talk to someone.
The best thing you can get for yourself is a gym ball. I sit on mine 90% of the time. It forces me to move. There is no way you can sit still on this thing for long.
2. YOUR ELBOWS ARE NOT TUCKED IN
Your elbows should be tucked in snuggly at your sides. It is when we are spreading our wings, or our monitors are too far away, that we are getting all sorts of shoulder aches that can last for weeks.
You want to bring your keyboard closer to your body, and about at waist height. Everything you use often are within the radius of your front arms with your elbows tucked in.
If your desk is too high, get yourself a keyboard tray that is attached to the bottom of the desk so that you can keep your elbows snuggly at your sides.
3. YOUR CHIN IS NOT PARALLEL TO THE FLOOR
When your monitor is so high that you have to lift your chin to look at it, your neck is forced to bend in a nasty way that is doesn’t like – and it will tell you that in no uncertain terms.
With a laptop, the screen and keyboard are very close to one another, and it is a good investment to get a secondary screen that you can set up at a comfortable height .
I place the monitor straight in front of me so that I don’t need to twist, or force my neck in an awkward position. The top of the monitor is at eye height, so that my eyes are always parallel, or slightly down.
When you are working on two monitors next to one another, it is slightly trickier. But as long as you make sure your torso is always in line with your eyes, you’ll be fine. Swivel your chair so that you face the monitor you’re working from full-on. It is when we are working with our head even slightly turned in one direction, that the problems start.
4. YOU’RE STRAINING YOUR EYES
Glare on your screen, and harsh contrast between a bright monitor and dark surroundings is not good for your eyes. Remember, your monitor is a bright light, and your eyes are straining when you are staring into a light all day.
When you have a desk or table lamp on your desk that casts a soft light on your hands, it will reduce the contrast in brightness around your monitor.
Another tip: Take your eyes off your screen every now and then and focus on something in the distance to relax your eye muscles.
Hopefully you have lots of natural light where you work. This is the number one thing that employees ask for, because it connects us to the outside world, and keeps our spirit high. But with windows come glare – which is the thing you want to avoid.
I see so many times people completely cover their windows to reduce glare, but that defeats the purpose of having natural light in the first place. The best treatment for your windows is to install glare reducing shades. They block direct sunlight, but still allow natural light to come in, and you to see the view outside. Win-win.
5. YOU’RE SITTING POORLY
Yes, you want a good chair – one that gives you good lumbar support, can swivel, adjust height, and recline.
But more important than a good chair – and I’m going to get in trouble for this – is the way you sit on your chair.
There are various ways to sit that are good for you, and remember our first rule – to change your position regularly. Someone somewhere said:
“The best seated position is always the next position”
However, when you are sitting upright in your chair, push your bottom right into the crack of the chair. This forces your pelvis to tilt upwards, and create the natural curve in your lower back that your body wants.
When your pelvis is tilted up like this, it is also virtually impossible to slouch.
With your bottom right at the back of your chair, you may find that your feet are not solidly on the floor. Which is the other thing you want to pay attention to.
Your feet should be solidly on the floor for extra support. If they are not, get yourself a foot rest – it will make the world of a difference.
I also use a small cushion behind my back, turned vertically. This allows me to open my shoulders and push them back.
Now I want to show you a seated that is not only super comfortable, but also ergonomically very good for your body. This may surprise you, but you need to recline completely. Yes, as much back as you can, and rest your feet on something high. Like your desk, ha!
It takes the pressure off your lower back, aligns your spine, and spreads the weight of your upper body over a larger portion of the backrest of the chair. It is a total stress-free position, and you’ll be able to concentrate better!
Now you just need to find a way to bring your keyboard closer.
…and convince your boss that this is actually good for productivity!
I hope you found this helpful, and at it least reminds you to pay attention to how you sit, and set up your desk to work.
Here at In Form Design, we design office spaces that are not only beautiful and inspiring, but also ergonomically good for your body, save time, and that are good for productivity.
I’m so curious to know if you are making any of these mistakes? Or if there are other mistakes you can think of.
Please let me know?
Then go and make some changes!
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