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Believe it or not, learning how to sit properly at a computer desk is a bit of an art form!
With a brief search online, you’ll to able to find dozens of statistics and scientific studies that highlight the damage poor posture can do to your body, particularly over long periods.
While working from home, it is essential to make sure you’re sitting comfortably at your computer desk and aligning your body to the technology and workspace around you.
For many of us, this was previously dealt with by our employer in our offices, with several health and safety guidelines in place to prevent us from causing ourselves harm while at work.
However, for those of you who’ve had to pivot to remote working during the pandemic, you might want to read on to avoid future neck and back pains.
Our Step by Step Ergonomic Guide On How To Correctly Sit At A Computer Desk
We’ve outlined a full ergonomic guide on how to sit at a computer desk to avoid bad posture and future pains!
1. Monitor Position
One of the most important steps is making sure your eyes are level with the top of the screen and the monitor is directly in front of you about an arm’s length away.
If you’re working with a desktop PC, then it should prove easy enough to adjust the height of your monitor to match where your eyes naturally shift. However, if you’re using a laptop, it can prove a little more of a struggle.
If an external monitor isn’t an option, then consider a wireless mouse and keyboard and prop your laptop up on a stand. Crooking your neck all day staring down at your laptop screen will eventually cause neck pain.
For further advice on monitor stands, check out our article on desk organization.
2. Chair Height
The best desk chair is one that can fully support your spinal curves – helping you to avoid back pain & aches while working from your desk for long periods of time.
It’s important to adjust your chair height to ensure your thighs are parallel to the ground.
Equally as important is your sitting posture, your upper back should be kept straight, allowing for the natural curve in your lower back to be supported by the chair.
Don’t slouch either, as this can cause discomfort and even back pain over long periods. Your hips should remain as close to the back of the chair as possible.
Maintaining proper posture for a long period of time might be hard initially, but by keeping a stricter sitting posture over time, it will become second nature.
3. Desk Height
Your desk should always be within arm’s length away and elbows. There’s no comfort in having to reach too far for your keyboard and mouse, really you should be able to easily control them with your arms bent at 90 degrees at the elbow.
As for below the desk, ensure there’s plenty of space for your knees, thighs and feet. Having to make room for a printer or filing cabinet by stretching to one side for prolonged periods isn’t going to do you any good.
If your desk is too low or can’t be adjusted, then alter the height of your chair accordingly to allow yourself better reachability and comfort.
Alternatively, you may prefer a standing desk, which has been proven to reduce back pain and provide a productivity boost!
4. Arms Parallel
Firstly, your wrists should remain straight, with your hands at or below elbow level whilst typing or using your mouse. Your elbows should remain at a 90-degree angle to facilitate this.
Meanwhile, ensure your shoulders are relaxed, not hunched up or tense, as this can cause discomfort over prolonged periods.
As for your lower arms, these should remain parallel to the floor and rest on the arms of your desk chair while maintaining your proper sitting posture.
5. Legs Level
Try to keep the upper part of your legs at a 90-degree angle from the rest of your body. You’ll know if you’ve managed to align yourself correctly, as your knees will be about level with your hips.
If you’re a bit shorter than the average person and your feet can’t quite touch the floor, then consider a footrest to help maintain good posture. However, if you’re rather tall, then you’ll probably need to adjust your chair to better extend your legs.
Try not to cross your legs either, as this can lead to several posture problems, such as hip and back pain.
6. Feet Flat
As for your feet, they should comfortably be able to rest flat on the floor, or on a footrest if you are limited in the amount by which you can adjust your chair.
If you haven’t got access to a footrest, then a stack of hardback books or reams of paper can work just as well, allowing you to rest your feet at a level that feels comfortable. It’s important not to skip this step, as you’ll soon notice sore feet once you’re no longer sat down!
7. Regular Breaks
Taking short breaks every 30 minutes from sitting at your desk can be good for the heart, as those sitting down for extended periods tend to have higher levels of bad cholesterol.
Make sure you’re allowing yourself enough time in your day to stand up to go for a walk, make a hot drink or even just walk up and down your home office space while on the phone.
What’s most important, is not to forget to then return to your ‘good posture’ position when settling back down to get some more work done at your desk.
Ensuring consistency with your sitting posture will help you avoid aches and pains in the long run.
Maintaining good posture needn’t be limited to while you’re sat at your desk. Incorporate these good practices into your everyday lifestyle and you’ll notice a real difference. When relaxing after hours, feel free to do so, but ensure you do so with good posture.
Don’t slouch into the sofa, sit upright or make use of a footstool to better support you. This applies when you’re watching television in your front room, getting into your car to drive every morning, or even when you’re dining al fresco in the garden with your family.
Hopefully, we have provided you some good tips on how to properly sit at a computer desk, as we can’t rely on our office managers to ensure that all of our health and safety needs are being met while we are out of the office.
Never has any of this advice been more important than when working remotely. We need to take it upon ourselves to ensure we’re sitting ergonomically and comfortably at our home workspaces. Otherwise, there are a whole series of long-lasting backaches and neck pain that we’ll inadvertently become accustomed to.