Our top tips for good working posture
Although working from home is becoming more and more popular, working without a correctly set up workstation can have a massive impact on your health. Here we explore good working posture and give our top tips to improve your posture at home and in the office.
Why is good working posture so important?
There will always be cases in life when we adopt poor posture, often without even realising it. Desk workers spend a huge part of their day sitting at a fixed workstation and frequently adjust their bodies to a comfortable position that may not be demonstrating the best available postures.
Our bodies have a tendency to organically adapt to certain postures or gestures when they are held for an extended period of time. Some muscles become tenser, while others become more relaxed and weaker.
Occasionally, the tensions in our bodies brought on by our posture can result in some joints becoming out of equilibrium. Continuous bad posture can eventually result in pain and can even cause quite major pathologies including herniated discs, osteoarthritis, joint arthritis, and sciatic pain.
Research has shown that sitting in the wrong position for long periods of time can increase your risk of experiencing chronic discomfort, regardless of how much you exercise. Desk employment causes musculoskeletal discomfort for a number of reasons, including:
- Hip misalignment as a result of bad habits including crossing your ankles and legs,
- Longer periods of sitting result in slouching, which keeps your spine out of alignment,
- Neck pain can occur if computer monitors aren’t set up at eye level,
- Inactivity limiting the passage of blood and nutrients to the spinal discs,
- Deterioration of your spinal discs more quickly if you sit all day.
It is for these reasons that we recommend implementing ergonomic principles at work; wherever you are working. In a previous article, we looked at how you can make your workstation as comfortable as possible including desk stretches. Check the full article out here.
Even though desk jobs are highly associated with chronic back and neck pain, following a few good posture practices can help prevent long-term harm and injury.
Top tips for good working posture
When seated, use ergonomic workplace chairs and posture-friendly accessories.
Ergonomic “props” that provide support can ease the weight and strain on the spine. At your workstation, ergonomic chairs or chairs with a movable back support can be employed.
While seated in an office chair, on a soft piece of furniture, or while driving, footrests, portable lumbar back supports, or even a towel or small pillow can be employed to reduce strain.
Posture can also be influenced by using handbags, bags, and backpacks that are made to reduce back strain.
To minimise bending or straining the neck with the head tilted forward, wearing the proper corrective eyewear and situating computer screens to match your natural, resting eye position might also be helpful.
If you are not sure where to start with choosing an ergonomic chair review our ‘8 tips to pick the correct ergonomic chair’ article here.
Make a reminder
Even with the best of intentions, it can be difficult to remember to take regular intervals for movement. You must develop a habit over time in order to improve your job ergonomics and take breaks.
Setting a timer for 30 minutes of work is one approach. Set a second 5-minute timer for your movement break when the first one expires, and so on. Alternatively, you can use desktop programmes to track your work hours and remind you when it’s time to have a break. Websites such as https://pomofocus.io/ can assist with this.
Set up an ergonomic workstation
It’s crucial to set up an ergonomically focused working environment if you want to achieve overall bodily wellness at work and home. Ensure that you have an adjustable workstation that’s tailored to fit you by using good posture advice and support items.
Our Head of Ergonomics, Chris Barlow explains that an ergonomic workstation considers factors such as:
- placing the goods you use the most within easy reach,
- allowing enough space for your feet to be placed,
- the promotion of full range of motion,
- reducing hunched shoulders,
- using your eyes to look down instead of your neck,
- considering how you can minimise motion that isn’t necessary, such as jerky head movements,
- investing in an ergonomic desk that is a good fit for your body shape, and working habits
- Using a phone headset if you use your telephone a lot as part of your job.
Listen to early indicators of discomfort brought on by improper ergonomics and posture
Back pain that begins in the neck and radiates to the upper back, lower back, and extremities or disappears after changing positions can be an early indicator that something is wrong. Pain that comes on suddenly with a new job, a new office chair, or a new car could be the result of poor ergonomics and posture and should be reviewed.
When something feels off, your body will let you know. Sometimes even the smallest change can have a significant impact.
Think about your posture and keep your body aligned
Most people begin to slump after 15 minutes of remaining stationary, whether they are standing or sitting. Regularly check in with yourself to sense how your body is positioned and make any necessary adjustments.
Put equal amounts of weight on the front, rear, and sides of the feet as you are standing. Use the functions of your office chair while you’re seated in it. Arrange your hips, shoulders, and ears in a vertical line as you sit up straight. Even a comfortable position of prolonged sitting might become tiresome. To reduce the strain on the back muscles, alternate between sitting back against the office chair’s support and standing with a straight back if possible. When standing, make sure that the screen is eye level, and your elbows are around 90 degrees with the keyboard positioned in the same way as if you were seated.
Sitting on a balancing ball can help some people achieve a naturally balanced posture; in this position, the pelvis is gently rocked forward, increasing the lumbar curve, which naturally pushes the shoulders back (similar to sitting on the edge of a chair seat).
Additionally, be conscious of unbalanced postures and avoid them. Try not to sit with your legs crossed unevenly, leaning to one side, bringing your shoulders forward, or tilting your head. Most of the poor postures mentioned can be avoided by some simple chair adjustments (so long as the chair fits you correctly).
Good working posture; the importance of regular movement
You shouldn’t stay in one position for more than an hour, even if you’re comfy. Getting up prompts you to straighten up when you go. Try a few minutes of movement before you start that next zoom call, it will wake you up and reset your posture.
Muscle fatigue increases the likelihood of slumping, slouching, and other bad postures, which in turn puts more strain on the neck and back. Change positions frequently to keep your posture maintained and relaxed.
Remain hydrated and pause frequently to stretch.
These frequent breaks can release any muscles that you might be unknowingly tensing by stretching. You may also feel your posture improve.
Some ergonomic items that we recommend to support good working posture
Select a chair that supports the natural curvature of your spine. Your chair’s height should be adjusted so that your thighs are parallel to the floor and your feet are flat on the ground or on a footrest. Adjust the armrests so that your shoulders are relaxed and your arms are comfortably resting on them.
When choosing a chair, making sure that your chair has adjustable height armrests with soft padding on top reduces upper limb impact of sedentary sitting. There are various types of arms to suit budgets and requirements, 4-dimensional arms have height, width, depth and angle adjustments. A good example is the customisable Ortho Omega chair.
If you frequently converse on the phone while typing or writing, wear a headset or put your phone on speaker instead of holding it between your head and neck.
Keyboards and mice
Put your keyboard and mouse on the same surface level and place them within easy reach. Keep your wrists straight, your upper arms close to your body, and your hands at or just below the level of your keyboard or mouse while you’re typing or using it.
To cut down on excessive mouse use, employ keyboard shortcuts. If at all feasible, reduce the mouse’s sensitivity so that you can control it with a gentle touch. Change which hand uses the mouse by moving it to the opposite side of the keyboard.
Try to place your keyboard keeping the letter ‘B’ inline with your belly button (another top tip from Chris Barlow)
Effective ergonomic keyboards are designed to help you type in the most ergonomic way, tackling repetitive strain injuries and ensuring that you don’t need to reach for the painkillers. Discover more about proper hand positioning here.
Use a footrest if your chair is too high for you to rest your feet flat on the floor or if you need to raise the chair’s height due to the height of your desk. Use a tiny stool or a stack of solid books as a substitute for a footrest if one is not accessible.
Make sure your knees, thighs, and feet have room to move around underneath the desk. Put solid boards or blocks under the desk legs if it is too low and cannot be raised.
Raise your chair if the desk cannot be adjusted because it is too high. When necessary, support your feet with a footrest. If the edge of your desk is sharp, cushion it or use a wrist rest. Keep nothing under your desk.
In an earlier blog, we explore the advantages and disadvantages of standing desks, view the article here for more advice.
Orient your monitor so that it is directly in front of you and at arm’s length or less. The top of the screen should be at eye level or just below it. Your keyboard should be immediately behind the monitor. Lower the monitor by an extra 1 to 2 inches if you wear bifocals for more comfortable viewing.
What our ergonomics specialists have to say
“We understand that choosing an appropriate ergonomic equipment and implementing good posture can be a daunting experience, especially if you’re making an investment for an employee. We are here to review individual’s and employee’s working environments and offer guidance on the most suitable products. There is no one size fits all and every assessment is completely unique.
If you would like to find out more about our ergonomic equipment or assessments call us today on 0161 7458353.”
We recommend implementing a comfortable workstation that encourages good working posture
It is crucial to set up an ergonomic work station if you want to achieve overall bodily wellness. Make sure you have an adjustable workstation that’s tailored to fit you by using the good posture advice and support items mentioned above.
As an employer, consider the legal implications when recommending good working postures for employees.
We always recommend that anyone who works with display screen equipment should have regular DSE assessments. DSE assessments are put into place to protect screen users under the 1992 DSE Health and Safety regulations. Workers who use display screen technology for an hour or more on a daily basis must complete a DSE examination. Working at a poorly constructed workstation can have a detrimental impact on your health and put you at risk of subsequent difficulties.
HSE explains good posture when using display screen equipment as
“Employers must provide health and safety training and information for display screen equipment (DSE) users. Training should include guidance on good posture when working with DSE.
This page will help employers and workers to understand what good posture looks like when using display screen equipment at home or in the workplace.”
Their standard workstation setup is as follows:
Getting started with good working posture and Remtek Systems
If you have an ergonomics question or would like to book a consultation with one of our experts to explore good working posture for you or your team, email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to popular demand, we have extended our ‘Homeworkers Sale’ with new ergonomic office furniture and accessories. This fantastic selected range is discounted by 20%* for all homeworking equipment.