By: Ashley Beyer, ATC, LAT, Agnesian HealthCare Sports & Spine Center
Freeze! How are you sitting at your desk right now? You probably find yourself quickly scooting back in your chair or sitting up a little straighter. Whether you spend a lot or a little time at your desk, your posture can affect how you feel throughout the day and can even make you more prone to certain injuries.
So how do you know if you are sitting how you should be at your workstation? Take some time every once in a while to do a self-ergonomic assessment. Start at the floor. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor with your ankles at a 90-degree angle. Your knees should also be at a 90-degree angle which may be difficult to accomplish for those who are either very tall or quite short. The best way to achieve this is to adjust the height of your desk chair. Shorter individuals may find it helpful to get a small box or stool to put under their feet so that they can rest flat.
Continue the ergonomic assessment up to the hips. The hips should be at a 90-degree angle. Many people tend to lean forward onto their elbows at their desk. Instead, sit up straight and move your chair in closer. Try to keep your elbows close to your sides or slightly in front of you at 90 degrees. Adjustable desks are a great way to accomplish this. But if you don’t have one, adjust your chair height accordingly so you avoid reaching up or down to use your computer. Wrists should remain in a neutral or straight position. You may want to invest in a cushioned wrist support for the mouse, and/or keyboard.
You’re almost done! Many people sit with forward rounded shoulders or a hunched back. As you sit up, straight shrug your shoulders up to your ears and let them roll backwards and down. Relax the tension in your muscles, but hold this position. Allow your elbows to fall in line straight down from your shoulders. Lastly your head is probably leaning forward. Draw your head straight back without raising your chin up. Your ears should be in line with your shoulders. Your computer screen should be at a height so that you can look straight ahead, not up or down. This can be tricky with a laptop, but desktops can easily be raised or propped up with a book underneath.
Try to run through a quick self-ergonomic assessment every time you sit down at a desk. Before you know it you will be sitting like this without even thinking about it!