These days, everyone has some kind of desk work either at the office or at home; even more so with the ongoing pandemic. With more and more time spent working on a computer, everyone is increasingly facing health issues; specifically, body aches. Out of those, the most common one is the pain in the lower back.
“Sitting,” believe it or not, is more complex than you think. If you develop an unhealthy sitting habit, it is going to cause more pain in the long run. When it comes to the “Art of Sitting” the right way, i.e. sitting ergonomically, the minute details play a big role. But it still requires a bit of getting used to as it may feel unnatural at first.
With the right Accessories and knowledge, you can even bid farewell to your body aches soon.
Now that I have scared you enough, let me tell you how you can prevent any more damage.
The best way to sit maybe not sitting at all!
As wacky as it sounds, sitting is actually harmful to you if you don’t sit the right way and that is why people are trying out the new standing desk trend, or sitting on the big rubber ball to keep moving even while sitting.
Even Companies are recognizing the need for a standing desk and are incorporating it in their offices. Standing at your workplace can’t be possible on any desk as you need a specialized desk for it. Now, these standing desks are moving desks which means their height can be adjusted moving between the right sitting and the right standing height suited for every different user.
Sit-stand desks are an expensive way to develop this healthy habit and since you are going to be sitting anyway, read further to learn how you can make sitting more ergonomic.
Choose the right chair and accessories
Choosing the right chair is the most essential thing when it comes to sitting at your desk whether it is at work or at home. It’s the place where you sit the most after your bed. Now even if you want to sit casually, there are some things you can add to your daily experience.
Here is a checklist to make it easier –
Lumbar support is an essential thing to look for in a chair. Many chairs come with lumbar support, but you can also buy one from Amazon, and they come fairly cheap or just use a small cushion to support your lower back.
Arms should be parallel to the ground — prevents strain on wrists when typing.
The elbow should be in line with the desk and not lower or higher as it puts a strain on your shoulders and neck. I highly recommend a chair with height-adjustable armrests.
The feet should be flat on the ground — the chair should not be too high that your legs are hanging from the chair and not too low that your knees are higher than the seat giving no under-thigh support. Your knees will thank you!
Push your hips as far as you can to the back of your chair and make a conscious effort to sit straight — This reduces the pressure on your lower back.
Headrest — it is more of personal preference, but I recommend it for resting your head on short periods to give rest to your neck.
Always prefer a chair that has separate back support which reclines without moving the seat itself and not the chairs which recline the whole chair along with the seat as you have to lift your legs when you recline and also the latter does not support back movement which is necessary while sitting.
Use a Leg Rest — Since heights of tables are mostly fixed first set the height of your chair based on the line where you have to rest your arms and if then your legs are floating even a little bit on the floor consider a footrest which you can get from Amazon. Still, you can just roll up a carpet, an old pillow, or your untouched Yoga Mat.
I will say it again a chair is one of the most things if you have any kind of desk job or do any work sitting in front of a computer, so it’s best if you spend some time choosing the right one or making your current chair better
Place that screen right
Ideally, your monitor should be placed in such a way that the top bezel of the monitor is 2-3″ above your seated eye level.
The monitor should be one arm’s distance away from you sitting straight.
If you use a monitor on a stand, then you can get a Monitor riser to add height to the monitor or just stack some “thicc” books as per your need.
If you use a laptop, then I highly recommend a Laptop stand which brings your laptop screen up to your eye level, and you can use an external keyboard and mouse.
If you have a wall-mounted monitor, and after all the adjustments, the monitor is not at the right level, then I highly recommend moving the wall mount.
The main aim of an ergonomic keyboard is to keep your wrists at their natural position as much as possible. The natural position of your wrists is what you’ll have when you are standing and your hands just resting normally i.e. palms facing inwards. Now anything you do on your keyboard or your mouse is forcing you to keep your hands flat which creates a problem called the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) which is caused by pressure on the median nerve that runs through the wrist and into the hand.
Ergonomic Keyboard at first looks very gimmicky and tough to get used to, and many are, but the ones that work well are very costly and just not worth it. Still, if you are considering an ergonomic keyboard, consider the one from Microsoft. Here are some things you can do to make your current typing experience more ergonomic –
Use a Wrist Rest – Using a Wrist rest is very beneficial to keep your wrists from bending upwards and creating a strain. This has a worse effect if you are using a taller mechanical keyboard.
Keyboard tilt – If you are sitting upright (which you should) then do not use the keyboard legs i.e. do not tilt the keyboard up as it forces your wrists upwards. If you are casually using the keyboard and are leaned back then the tilt-up the keyboard to maintain a straight wrist.
Position the keyboard directly in front of your body – Get a laptop or Keyboard with Number pad only if necessary as they shift the center to the left.
Consider a Vertical Mouse
A mouse is what you use the most and it suffers from the same issue of forcing you to use your palms flat on the desk. This causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) which I mentioned earlier. There are some things you can do to reduce the risk of that –
Use a Vertical Mouse – If you don’t need a mouse for gaming then getting a vertical mouse is going to be highly beneficial for you as it keeps your wrists at a natural position and you are more comfortable when using a mouse for long periods. A vertical mouse is not a cheap buy and a good recommendation would be Anker CE100 but there also many other options you can check out.
Use a mouse wrist rest – Everyone has seen the classic mouse pad with built-in wrist rest but they are not of very good quality and they also look very hideous. If you feel any pressure on your wrists while using the mouse, you can just roll a small cloth or get a dedicated Mouse wrist rest which is designed specially to prevent CTS.
Take Short Breaks
After you have achieved the best posture and created the right habits for your workstation it’s time to recognize that no matter how good you sit, any static posture will affect the blood circulation and that is why you need to take timely breaks.
Take short 1-2 stretch breaks every 20-30 minutes.
After each hour, change the work at hand for 5-10 minutes.
Reduce eye fatigue by resting your eyes and periodically looking away from the monitor and at further away objects.
I understand it gets tough to keep in mind to take breaks when you are in the workflow, and that is why here are some apps that will remind you to take breaks when needed.
Your phone Reminder App
Move – iOS and iPadOS
Stretchly (Windows, macOS, Linux): Simple Reminder for Micro and Long Breaks, and many more…
You’d have never thought simply sitting in front of your computer would turn out to be this problematic. No matter what people say, this is the bitter truth we all have been ignoring. But, for once, try the tips I’ve mentioned in this article and see how it changes your health.
For one, I can assure you’ll be more productive in your tasks and stay stress-free while working. Using tools that facilitate ergonomic sitting may also help you avoid serious health problems in the future. Plus, it’s kind of fun to change your seating habits.