If you often reach the end of a working day and find yourself feeling fatigued, it might not be your deadlines or your workload that’s the problem. Sitting at a desk all day is widely known to be a cause of joint and muscle fatigue, but the problem is so common that the British Occupational Health Research Foundation (BOHRF) now cite it as the UK’s leading cause of absence from work.
We all accept the odd twinge here and there, the stiffening of joints that have been immobile all day, but the pain and discomfort caused by a poor seating position can mean more than simply a day or two off work; back, shoulder and neck pains are invisible yet debilitating ailments that prevent sufferers from participating in daily life, but more worryingly, can contribute to long-term health problems including repetitive strain injury and arthritis.
When it comes to looking after your health, prevention is most definitely better than cure and the good news is that these problems can easily be prevented by sitting in the office, the right way.
If you spend hours each day sitting at a desk then these measures will help you to stay healthy:
Seating: Sitting comfortably begins with the right chair. This means having a well-padded, generous seat and adjustable ergonomic features so you can tailor it to suit your individual body shape. If your chair is not adjustable enough for you to carry out the following steps, ask your manager to source one that is.
- Support your back by sitting as far back into your chair as you can. This helps to take pressure away from your thighs and lower back.
- Tilt the backrest so that your lower back is cushioned by the lumber support.
- Adjust the seat height to protect your knees. Plant both feet on the floor and make sure that your knees are bent at a 90 degree angle or more; your knees should never be higher than your hips. Avoid crossing your legs at the knee or ankle to keep your circulation healthy and if this is uncomfortable, ask your manager to provide you with a foot rest.
- For computer work, your elbows should sit by your side and be bent at a 90 degree angle with your wrists resting lightly on your desk. Adjust your monitor so that it sits at eye level and this will help to reduce any strain being placed on your neck.
By simply positioning your chair and your body in this way you will dramatically reduce the potential for muscle and joint strains.
Exercise: Although these simple changes will help prevent back problems from developing, to really keep your muscles and joints healthy you need to work and stretch them. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy treat a lot of patients with problems caused by sitting badly at work and have compiled a guide on simple exercises you can do at your desk.
For further advice and information on finding the right chair and the right position and beating workplace fatigue, contact the office furniture specialists at Planscape.
Enjoyed this article? Join 40,000+ subscribers to the ZME Science newsletter. Subscribe now!