The checklist for proper ergonomic posture.

According to the research “Office Health” presented by the Italian Ministry of Health (Loudhouse, January 2018), approximately 80% of office workers suffer from discomfort caused by poor posture.

The most common issues manifest in the lower back (6 out of 10 people), neck (5 out of 10), arms, or wrists (3 out of 10). The research estimates an annual cost of €3.36 billion borne by the community and companies due to absences related to postural problems.

Office work carries certain risks, especially when maintaining an incorrect posture for hours, which inadvertently leads to muscle tension that can eventually result in the mentioned issues. In fact, the research reveals that 90% of the respondents sit with a curved back, and an astonishing 85% often cross their legs.

In this case, ergonomics comes to the rescue by offering a set of recommendations for proper sitting posture. As mentioned in previous posts, ergonomics is the science that, based on the analysis of the interaction between humans and their environment, seeks optimal solutions for performing a specific task, such as working in an office while sitting in front of a computer screen.

Let’s summarize the recommendations offered by ergonomics in a

Checklist for optimal posture

 1. Back

The back, especially the lower back, should fit snugly against the backrest and be well-supported.

 2. Knees

They should form a 90° angle between thighs and legs.

Additionally, there should be about a 5cm space between the legs and the front edge of the seat.

 3. Head and Neck

They should be straight and aligned with the shoulders.

 4. Shoulders

They should be relaxed and in a neutral position (neither raised nor lowered).

 5. Elbows

They should form a 90° angle between the upper arm and the forearm.

 6. Monitor Distance

When extending your arm, you should roughly reach out to touch the monitor with the palm of your hand.

 7. Monitor Height

The upper edge of the monitor should be approximately at eye level.

 8. Feet

Both feet should be firmly planted on the floor.

 9. Ankles

They should form a 90° angle between your calves and feet.

Let’s conclude the checklist with a tenth point:

 10. Breaks

Take a break when you can.

Tips for Improving Ergonomic Posture

Now, we’d like to provide you with some tips and tricks, point by point, in accordance with the checklist:

1. The use of a lumbar support adjusted to your back is crucial. Various types and models are available, from simpler to more advanced ones (see the post on Office chair lumbar support). At least an adjustable-height lumbar support is REQUIRED for an office chair used for 8 hours a day.

2. A height-adjustable seat is fundamental and necessary.

3. Depth adjustment of the seat is sometimes necessary, especially if there is little or too much space between the seat and your calf.

4 and 5. A good armrest can make a difference. Again, various models are available, from simpler to more advanced ones (see the post on Armrests for office chairs).

6 and 7. A height-adjustable monitor stand enables this adjustment.

Alternatively, you can use risers (such as stacks of paper) under the monitor to raise it to the desired height.

A side note for laptop users: if it’s not possible to have an additional monitor, you could at least get a laptop stand or an external keyboard to place on the desk (effectively using the laptop as a monitor in an optimal position).

8 and 9. Height adjustment of the seat is also necessary in this case.

Ideally, having a height-adjustable desk would be even better, as it allows for an even more suitable position.

Moreover, a height-adjustable desk allows you to work while standing for some periods during the day.

The alternation between this standing working position and the sitting position (sit-stand workstation) is, in fact, the new frontier of ergonomics.

10. A dynamic seat helps avoid discomfort associated with a static position. For example, a good synchronized mechanism allows you to tilt on the chair as needed to activate your muscles and prevent numbness (as highlighted in our post on Mechanisms for office chairs).

There are also other accessories that allow for micro-movements of the pelvis, such as forward tilt or sit balance.

In any case, taking a break every 60/90 minutes is advisable. Even a few seconds can reactivate your muscles… and help you return to sitting in the optimal position!

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