Working From Home: Correct Body Postures
The sedentary lifestyle is becoming more and more present due to our current working world and our leisure time activities. According to statistics, we spend an average of 10 years of our lives sitting. However, this figure only refers to working hours. At the end of a long (and sedentary) working day, most people spend some time sitting on the train or in the car, and once they get home, they want to spend a relaxing evening. However, this usually takes place sitting in front of the TV, while at the same time the gaze keeps wandering to the smartphone. This makes it all the more important to sit correctly.
Every fifth working person in the United States spends at least 9 hours a day sitting. And usually not in a position that is conducive to good health. The associated postural damage is associated with various conditions. In 2022, it was reported that about 75 percent of the US workforce suffer from frequent back pain, even if the pain was not strong.
Several health problems can result from incorrect sitting positions:
It’s all too easy for the shoulders to slump forward while working at a desk, causing the back to arch. The head also falls forward, which puts a lot of strain on the neck muscles. The distance between the eyes and the center of the screen, which should be about 20 inches (50 centimeters), is also usually not maintained. Instead, a forward bent posture is often adopted in order to be closer to the screen.
A hunchback is thus inevitable. This is also the case if the keyboard and mouse are positioned too far away from the edge of the desk or if the forearms cannot rest parallel on the desk top. In addition, a lack of grip on the floor by the feet contributes to poor posture when sitting. If the feet do not find a stable grip, you will easily slip away from the backrest of your office chair. This results in unnecessary strain on your legs and back. Staying in one position for too long also puts strain on your intervertebral discs, which in turn leads to back pain.
Consequences of poor sitting posture
The consequences of poor posture are reflected in the above percentages regarding causes of work absenteeism. In addition to sore back and neck muscles, poor posture constricts the digestive organs and lungs. Digestive problems and shallow breathing set in. The latter results in fatigue and increases susceptibility to infectious diseases. Other consequences are joint problems in the feet, knees and hips, as the connective and supporting tissue of the joints is more prone to inflammation.
Even lasting disturbances of the movement sequences can occur. But not only physical symptoms can be observed as consequences of poor posture. The psyche is also related to posture. An upright posture, with a straight spine, promotes self-confidence. Drooping shoulders and a hunched back not only ensure that people around you perceive you as less confident, but you also feel less confident yourself. This can increase through discouragement to the development of depression.
Sitting correctly: Instructions
With our step by step guide, you will sit properly from now on:
- Your back rests against the back of the chair when you sit down
- Use the entire seat of your chair
- Assume a sitting position that is as upright as possible
- Lower and upper legs form a 90-degree angle or more when seated
- Forearms rest on the desk
- Lower and upper arms are at a 90-degree angle or more when sitting
- Your pelvis should be tilted forward slightly so that your thighs drop slightly
- To relieve strain on your legs and back, your feet need a firm grip on the floor
- You sit correctly when you sit dynamically and not statically.
- Pay conscious attention to your posture
- The correct sitting position always supports the natural double-S shape of the spine
- Upright posture:
- Sitting correctly: So-called dynamic sitting helps to maintain a healthy, upright sitting posture
- Sitting correctly: Example of the upright sitting posture
The correct sitting position is characterized by a posture that supports the natural double-S shape of the back. This posture promotes back muscle development by evenly loading the spine and strengthening the back muscles.
To achieve these effects, you should adopt as upright a sitting position as possible. Your pelvis should be tilted slightly forward so that your thighs slope slightly. To relieve the strain on your legs and back, your feet need a firm grip on the floor.
This should be possible without you slipping away from the backrest. The posture of the upper body also plays a role. For example, the upright posture should mean that you do not feel any tension in the shoulders. At the same time, lift your sternum so that it is reaching up and forward at the same time. A straight neck puts less strain on the cervical spine. You achieve this by stretching the back of your head back and up. Your chin tilts toward your sternum as you do this.
Sitting correctly is all about dynamics. You can use an upright posture as a starting point, but you should still incorporate small movement units into your workday from time to time. This in turn requires attention to your own sitting behavior. If, for example, you notice that your shoulders constantly slide forward while sitting and that you adopt a hunched posture, consciously pull your shoulders up and let them roll back down over your back. Even the alternating shift of weight from the left half of your buttocks to the right half has a positive effect on your intervertebral discs.
For a healthier workday, divide each hour so that you sit dynamically for 40 minutes, stand for 15 minutes and walk for 5 minutes. Since it’s not enough to just exercise after work, simply build more movement into your workday. For example, use the stairs instead of the elevator, or arrange your office supplies so that you are forced to stand when you need a file folder or the hole punch. In keeping with the motto, “Sitting Less is Sitting Right!”
Sitting for hours on end is not good for your health and makes you tired. Therefore, you should stretch and stretch again and again at certain intervals to get your circulation going again. In this way, you not only shake your muscles awake again, but also promote your blood flow. The circulation is stimulated again and the brain is better supplied with oxygen. So even small movements can boost your energy level again and help you concentrate better afterwards.
Consciously pay attention to your posture
Sitting properly – You’ll certainly find it easier with this method: if you notice your shoulders slipping forward during the workday and you fall into a hunched back, consciously straighten up again. Pull your shoulders up and let them drop back over your back. Align your head so that your neck vertebrae are straight. Think of the natural double-S shape of your spine to create an even load on your back. This will help you maintain a healthy sitting posture.
A variety of exercises allow you to take movement breaks while sitting. You can consciously pull your shoulders up to loosen the shoulder and neck area, hold the tension for a short time, and then let them roll down over the back in a relaxed manner. Alternately stretching your arms over your head also brings movement to this area and to your spine. To decompress the spine a bit, you can place your feet a little wider than hip-width apart while sitting and let your upper body and arms sink forward toward the floor. You can stretch your hands out in front and move your fingers once to the right and then to the left. As you do this, you are also stretching the sides of your spine.
Alternatively, you can grasp the other elbow with your hands in this posture and simply let your head hang down heavily or swing slightly from side to side. Then slowly straighten yourself up one vertebra at a time. To get some movement in your back muscles, alternate between a hollow back and a hunched back a few times. First place your hands on your knees. Then, as you inhale, push your sternum forward and at the same time pull your shoulders together behind your back.
As you exhale, make your back as round as possible. Twists also take tension out of the spine. To do this, simply move to the front end of the seat of your office chair. Now place your right hand behind you on the seat and your left hand on the right armrest. As you exhale, turn up once to your right side and take a few breaths in this position. Make sure your head stays in line with your sternum. Then turn back to the center and switch sides.
Invest in proper office chairs
Sitting properly becomes easier when your office chair is adjustable. A good office chair should be individually adjustable in height so that your legs are at about a 90° angle when you sit. At the same time, your arms should also rest on the tabletop at this angle. The tilt of the seat should also be adjustable so that the angle of 90° or more can be maintained due to different body sizes.
The upholstery of the chair should be soft enough to prevent back pain. This applies to both the seat and the backrest. The latter should also be adjustable in height. Armrests have a relieving function for the spine. Their support function for the forearms is particularly beneficial for the back when working for long periods.
Correctly adjust office chair and desk
To maintain the health of its employees, an employer should also pay attention to suitable office furniture that promotes a healthy sitting posture.
Since many employees spend hours at a desk, individually adjustable office chairs and desks only make sense. When it comes to office chairs, it’s important that more than just the height of the seat can be adjusted. Additional adjustability of the armrests and the backrest are also relevant to sit properly.
The so-called “synchronous mechanism” is recommended. This means the adjustment of the seat inclination to that of the backrest. If the armrests of your office chair are set at the height of the desk top, you can rest your forearms on the desk. This way, you won’t cramp up while working with your mouse and keyboard. A height-adjustable desk is also quite useful. This allows both the adjustment to the individual height of an employee and a change between a sitting and standing posture. In addition, a desk should also allow for sufficient legroom and have a straight edge that allows for a reasonable distance from the keyboard.