Being desk based is a common feature of many jobs in the UK. The stresses that result from being in a seated position have long been discussed but have recently been gathering some weight. The use of the prolonged seated position, particularly if posture is deviated, is a key factor in the development of low back pain. The discussion and education regarding how to safely and effectively sit at a desk (sounds like it should be simple … and it is once you know how) has a great effect on helping to reduce incidences of low back pain
So what is ergonomics then? Simply defined, it is the study of efficiency in the working environment. There is also an emphasis placed on the physical stresses placed on the body when carrying out various tasks. In this case we are looking at how to efficiently sit on a chair and operate at a desk. The key factors that are considered include:
- The body’s working position
- The specifics of the task involved
- The design and layout of the furniture
The position of equipment such as computers and telephones
Many companies as part of their corporate well-being scheme deliver advice on desk-based and standing ergonomics. On many occasions this is delivered by appropriately qualified Level 4 Low Back Pain personal trainers.
So we shall look a little more at the specifics of the key factors when setting up your desk for minimal risk of low back pain, altered posture and musculoskeletal dysfunction.
To set your desk up correctly, you should ensure that:
- The chair is set to a height where thighs are parallel to the floor
- You sit against the back rest, with the back straight
- While working, the elbows are in a comfortable position, close to the body
- Elbows and hips are at 90–120 degrees
- When using a monitor, the top of the computer screen is at eye level
More generally, it is recommended that you sit in a comfortable and supported position and that every hour you get up, have a little wander around the office and, where possible, stretch.
What you are trying to avoid is the following body positions being observed as the day goes on.
A little time spent considering how you sit at your desk can pay massive dividends when it comes to the avoidance of low back pain and general aches and pains.
Go check your desk now!
Tom Godwin (@TomForesight) has been involved in the fitness industry for over 18 years and has been involved with personal training, business/career development and corrective exercise. He is currently involved in personal trainer education as a tutor, assessor and course developer for Fitness Industry Education.