Ergonomic Chair Setup

Most people think a chair is a chair is a chair. However, a chair is the support for your entire body. If you get a chair that twists your spine, you can imagine that pain would result :) Since you might be sitting in that chair for 8 or more hours a day, it's important you spend some time thinking about one that best supports you.

First, the height. You should get a chair where your feet are flat on the floor, when you sit with your butt back against (or near) the back of the chair. While this is nice in theory, it in practice can mean that you no longer fit properly at your desk! Since getting a new desk is normally impossible, find a compromise. Adjust the chair to match the desk well - and then get something to put under your feet so that they are flat on that object. Hardcover books work fine :)

The seat area should keep your butt parallel to the floor. It should be wide enough so you can sit without the sides of the chair squishing you in. When your knees go down, they should be pretty much perpendicular to the ground. But you don't want your knee area being "cut into" by the front edge of the chair. That can actually cut off circulation. You want a little space in there between where your thigh goes forward and your knees start the turn downwards.

Many people have lumbar problems that develop when they sit for too long - that's your lower back area. Your spine isn't a straight line, there is a curve in it. If your chair does not have a "bump" in that lower back area to help support you, get a rolled up towel or tshirt and put it in there, That might help out.

You want the back of the chair tilted slightly back, and the arm rests at ... arm length :) You want them to support your arms in a pretty much parallel to the ground position. Most people don't work with their arms on their arm rests, although to be honest as I type this I am leaning my left elbow on my left arm rest. They do help as you get worn down, to give you a temporary resting spot.

One of the keys is not to glue yourself into one position all day long. That can really wear down on your body. Find a number of different positions that you enjoy. Lean to one side. Bring one leg up. Tuck your legs under. Each position will bring relief to one part of your body - maybe by giving slight stress to another. By moving between them, you help to give each part of you a rest. Also, of course, get up and take a short walk regularly, to give your body a break. Find ways to go for walks at lunchtime, or before and after work.

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