Sustained sitting can cause back and neck pain.  Optimal workstation set up is vital to minimise back pain while working in a sitting position.  Your chair is very important.  The back of your chair should mimic the shape of your back.  There should be an inward curve in your lower back and this should be adjustable in your chair in order to cope with all types of backs.  The chair should also have a gas lift height adjustment and adjustable tension in the seat mechanism to suit the weight of the person sitting in it.  It should also be on wheels for access away from the desk.  Some chairs have an adjustable height of back support and options for various angles of the seat and backrest to allow a range of seat movement.  This allows a synchronized action in order to keep the feet on the floor.  Adjust the chair height so that your feet rest comfortably on the floor.  If you are fairly short then a footstool can be of benefit.  Your knees should be lower than your thighs when sitting so don’t have the seat too low.  Adjustable or removable armrests are also good to have so that you can rest in the appropriate position according to desk height.  If you will be sitting 8 hours a day in a chair trying to obtain the best chair possible will help.  Get some advice on what chair you need.  If your workstation is at work, talk to the occupational and Health Safety officer to see if they can organize a supportive chair and do a workstation assessment.  

Remember to build your workstation around you according to the frequency with which you perform various tasks.  Don’t have the phone the furthest from reach if you receive frequent phone calls.  Make sure you have lots of space. Both screen and document holder can be placed on an extender arm to give you greater flexibility in positioning and more free desk space.  Your computer should be placed in front and at eye level.  Often computer screens are too low and cause neck pain and headaches. You should not have to lean forward to read the screen.  The keyboard should also be in front so that you are not twisting while typing.  Ergonomic keyboards can be very good.  Reading from a desk while typing is not ideal.  If doing a lot of this then try to get a copy holder which holds the material at a tilted level for better viewing. Ensure you have adequate lighting for your desk or numerous eye problems may start to occur. And be aware of glare or reflection, which may cause problems.  You may need to move your desk away from a window to avoid this.  Consider a computer screen filter if this is a problem. 

Finally, if you are comfortable doing so spend part of your day standing at your desk or even utilizing a standing desk.  Standing desks are growing in popularity and allow you to work from a sitting or stand position.  This can stop all sorts of back problems from developing as long as you are up straight and not bending or slouching.  Use the minimum force required to press down the keys on the keyboard.  Take regular breaks from your desk and do stretches and strength work.  Visit your local Physiotherapist for further advice and stretches.  Maintenance physiotherapy and massage is an excellent way to de-stress your back from sustained sitting at work.


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