Ergonomics: How to Sit at Your Desk

We can’t avoid sitting, and with more and more people working from home, the odds of having a proper ergonomic workstation are slim to none. We wanted to put together some recommendations on fundamental principles of good sitting posture, which will help to reduce strain on your body.

There is one caveat before we dive in, though: Regardless of how good your ergonomics are, you need to avoid prolonged sitting. Getting up regularly (every 30-45 minutes) and doing a different activity will reduce the adverse effects of sitting for too long. There’s been a lot of research lately that has shown the harmful effects of too much sitting. One study showed that women who sat for more than 6 hours a day were 37% more likely to pass away than those who sat for less than 3 hours per day.

Key Sitting Posture Strategies:

We’ve put together some fundamental principles to remember when you’re sitting at a desk which will help you to reduce strain on your joints and muscles:

Chair Setup
  • Your feet should rest comfortably on the floor. Use a footrest or a small stool to help if this is a challenge.
  • Keep your knees level with your hips.
  • Scoot your bum to the back of the chair and keep your natural low back curve. Use a cushion or a small towel to help if your seat doesn’t have lumbar support.

Mouse and Keyboard Positioning
  • Keep your mouse within easy reach of your keyboard.
  • Ensure that your wrists are in a natural and comfortable position. If needed, use a wrist support to give your wrists a break, but remember this support should only be used during a break and not while actively typing.
  • When typing, keep your wrists relaxed and avoid bending your wrists out to the side.
  • Elbows should stay at a right angle (90°) and can be supported by resting on the desk or on the armrests of your chair.

Monitor Setup
  • Use a monitor arm or mount to adjust the height of the monitor correctly so it is at eye level
  • Maintain a slight chin tuck position to help maintain good neck alignment.
  • Avoid having your monitor off to the side, but swivel your chair to look at your material.
Good Desk Posture
Telephone Use
  • Use a headset rather than cradling the phone between your head, neck and shoulder. This cradling can overwork these muscles, resulting in headaches and muscle strain.

Office Supplies:
  • Keep the telephone, stapler and other supplies close to your body to limit overreaching or stretching.
  • If a file or object is out of reach, stand up to grab them. Standing up will help to avoid unnecessary strain.

Standing Desks

Now that people are aware of the perils of too much sitting, there’s been much interest in adjustable standing desks. Although more costly than traditional desks, standing desks can help you to change your work position throughout the day. They can also support improved blood circulation to the lower body. But it’s important to remember that even with standing desks, you can end up standing for more extended periods, which can also lead to postural strain. So we return to our initial caveat, which is to move often throughout the day.

If you want more information on proper workspace setup, call one of our experts at any of our four Edmonton locations. At Innovation Physical Therapy, we’re here to help you Love Getting Better!

If you enjoyed this blog, check out some of our others: