By Mary Ann Wilson, RN
Prolonged static postures and repetitive movements experienced in the workplace are risk factors that can lead to fatigue, tension and musculoskeletal problems such as neck strain, backache, headache, or repetitive strain injuries. Proper positioning at your desk and gentle exercises done for a few minutes each hour can help to reduce these risks. These exercises are not intended as medical care or as a substitute for medical advice. Please check with your own health care provider before beginning any exercise program.
Workplace Wellness – General Guidelines for Sitting at a Desk
•Sit in a chair that supports your spine and maintains its normal curves. •Feet should be flat on the floor. Chair may be slightly reclining.
•The computer monitor should be slightly more than arm’s length away from you with the top of the screen at the middle of your forehead so you have a slight downward gaze.
•The elbows are at your sides, slightly more open than 90 degrees, wrists straight, fingers curved pointing toward the floor.
Questions to ask Yourself…
• Are you sitting upright on your “sitz bones” or is your pelvis tilted so that you are sitting back on your tail bone? To feel the sitz bones, sit on your hands and shift your weight side to side. Your seated weight should be evenly distributed on these bones.
• Do your ribs rest on your hip bones? With the 3rd finger of each hand, find the front of your hip bone. Place your thumbs on your lower ribs. Lift your ribs away from your hips, increasing the distance between your thumbs and fingers.
• Are your shoulders rounded? Touch the center of the collarbone with the fingertips of both hands. Sweep your fingers along the collarbone to the tips of the shoulders. Note how your shoulders pull back. Try to maintain this position as you relax your arms.
• Is your head positioned over your shoulders or hanging out in front? Touch your chin, and glide it straight back (Don’t tilt the head back). You’ll feel a lengthening stretch in the back of your neck.
Continue to ask yourself the above questions throughout the day. They will help bring attention to the way you’re positioning your body at your desk. This awareness can be used to self-correct and change bad habits. Don’t be surprised if you have to practice this regularly throughout the day to develop new healthy posturing. Good luck!