Sitting is the next new smoking….so the saying goes. But is sitting the enemy? As a PT, I have to say that sitting is NOT the enemy. Instead, the lack of physical movement is what is detrimental to your health. Below are 12 key strategies for minimizing your work-related postural risk for injury.
1. The most important thing is your chair. The more adjustable your chair is the better the options you have. Determining the correct height of your chair will determine whether or not you need other adaptable devices like a footrest or keyboard tray.
2. You should be sitting in your Pelvic Floor with your hips slightly higher than your knees and your feet flat on the floor. There should be about 2-3 fingers width space between your knees and the front edge of your chair. Your back can be supported by a lumbar roll.
3. You should be facing your monitor directly and the top of the monitor should be level with your eye height and should be positioned about an arm’s length away. You can have a monitor cover that helps dissipate the glare and keep your eyes from working too hard. You may have to adjust based on whether or not you wear bifocal or transitional glasses.
4. Keep your upper arms straight down by your side and your elbows bent at around 90 degrees. Your elbows should not leave your side to reach for the mouse.
5. Your wrists should be slightly extended and do not rest your wrists onto the edges of your desk or keyboard/mouse pad when typing/mousing.
6. Keep everything you use frequently within your Zone 1 reach. This is likely going to be your keyboard and mouse where your elbows never leave your side. Zone 2 will be the items you use occasionally like your land phone, stapler, tape, paper clips, etc. Your elbows will need to leave your side to reach for these items occasionally. Zone 3 will have the infrequently used items that you will need to lean your trunk to get access to. This might be the binder or book you need once a month.
7. The lighting is especially important for reducing strain on the eyes. If you suffer from migraines or HA, having an adjustable light or dimmer will help significantly.
8. Leg space should be ample and clutter-free. Remove all items from under your desk that crowds your legs from being in a comfortable space. Make sure your feet can remain flat on the floor.
9. If you are on the phone a lot, it is highly recommended to get an ear or headset to avoid further neck injuries.
10. Get up and walk at least every 20-30 minutes. This will cause a disruption in your concentration and workflow, but the alternative is not pretty. Set a timer to remind you to get up and take a quick walk around your desk, go get water, or stretch your shoulders/back before sitting down again.
11. If you are on carpet, make sure to use a chair mat to avoid having to push yourself away with your arms from your desk in order to scoot your chair backward.
12. Avoid awkward positions of sitting like reaching for things off to the side of your desk for the printed items, sitting cross-legged on your seat or leaning and tipping your chair backward.
There are several other adaptive equipment you can utilize to help protect your back/neck/shoulder pains, wrist/elbow pains, and even your thumb pains. Depending on what your needs are, Kintsugi Physical Therapy can help you create the perfect work environment for you.