Whether you sit or stand, spending your entire day behind a desk can be rough on your body. Sitting for hours straight can wreak havoc on your neck and back but standing can be hard on your knees and other joints. What’s the secret to a pain-free workday? Proper posture.
Posture is the position in which you hold your body while sitting, standing, or lying down. Proper posture is a position that minimizes strain on the joints, muscles, and ligaments to prevent stiffness, soreness, and pain. Here’s what you need to know about proper desk posture.
The Challenges of Being Desk-Bound
You may have heard that sitting is the new smoking, but what does that mean? Sitting uses less energy than standing or moving, but long periods of inactivity can have devastating effects on your health. High blood sugar, increased blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol levels are some of the risks.
Here are some other potential health risks of extended sitting:
- Weakening of the leg and gluteal muscles – this can lead to increased risk of injury.
- Digestion becomes less efficient which may lead to retention of fats and sugars.
- Shortening of the hip flexor muscles which can lead to hip and back problems.
- Increased risk for mental health problems like anxiety and depression.
- Higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as increased risk for heart disease.
- Increased blood sugar levels and higher risk for insulin resistance and diabetes.
- Formation of blood clots, also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
The human body is built to be upright. From the cardiovascular system to the digestive system, everything in our bodies just works better that way. While it may not be practical to spend your entire life on your feet, using proper posture while you’re seated can make a big difference.
How to Achieve Ergonomically Proper Desk Posture
Good posture is essential, especially if you spend a lot of time sitting or standing at a desk. Proper posture relieves pressure on your bones, joints, and muscles in addition to supporting healthy blood flow. Whether you’re sitting or standing at a desk, there’s a right and a wrong way to do it.
The trouble is you may have been sitting with poor posture for years without even knowing it. What does proper posture even feel like?
Follow these steps to identify proper sitting posture at desk:
- Sit up straight on the edge of your chair.
- Roll your neck and shoulders forward into a full slouch.
- Slowly pull your shoulders and head up and back into a tall upright position.
- Push your lower back forward, accentuating the curvature of your spine.
- Hold this position for several seconds – it may feel uncomfortable and forced.
- Release the position slightly and scoot back so your back is against the chair.
Once you’ve identified proper desk posture, all you have to do is maintain it. Adjusting your chair and your computer monitor will help you maintain ergonomic workstation posture. If you work with a laptop, position it about arm’s length away and adjust your chair so your hands are at or below elbow level when your wrists are straight. Your arms should be on the arm rests with your shoulders relaxed.
Now, what about proper standing desk posture?
When standing, adjust your desk to at or slightly below elbow height – the top of your monitor should be just below eye level. Place your keyboard and mouse on the same surface and adjust the height of the desk so your hands sit at or just below elbow level when your wrists are straight. Keep your arms close to your upper body and stand with your head, neck, and torso in a straight line. Your feet should be about hip-width apart and you should shift your weight from one foot to another throughout the day.
Remember, even if you have a standing desk, it’s important to alternate between sitting and standing to relieve pressure on your legs and joints. You should also invest in an anti-fatigue mat or even a standing desk mat to relieve pressure and encourage the subtle movements that prevent stiffness and pain.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is proper desk posture important?
Whether sitting or standing, proper posture reduces strain on your muscles and joints in addition to supporting healthy blood flow. People who sit and stand with proper posture tend to have less back, neck, and joint pain.
What’s the proper desk posture while sitting?
Adjust your chair height so your knees are level with your hips and position yourself about arm’s length away from your monitor. Keep your hands at or below elbow level with your wrists straight. If your chair has arm rests, adjust them so your arms rest gently on them when your shoulders are relaxed.
What’s the proper desk posture while standing?
Position your desk at or just below elbow height and stand about 20 to 28 inches from your monitor. Stand with your head, neck, and torso in a line with your upper arms held close to the body. To help reduce pressure on the knees and other joints, shirt your weight from foot to foot as you work.