If you’ve ever reached the end of a long day at work, stood up, and immediately grabbed your lower back in pain, you’re in good company.
Poor chair posture at the office can cause some uncomfortable health conditions, but the good news is that it’s relatively easy to correct with some minor ergonomic adjustments. Ergonomics is the practice of arranging your workspace so that your furniture and devices support, rather than impede, your workflow.1
Knowing how to sit in office chairs is foundational to our overall well-being and our productivity. With a few strategies for optimizing your posture and your workspace, you’ll be that much closer to accomplishing your goals—and nixing that lower back pain by the end of the day.
5 Tips for Improving Your Posture at the Office
Adopting correct office chair posture goes beyond training our bodies to sit, work, and move differently. Using ergonomic office furniture—whether chairs, desks, keyboards, or other tools—helps to create a workstation that supports your skeletal and muscular health.
Let’s look at 5 strategies for combining postural adjustments with an ergonomic work setup to ensure your office space supports proper posture.
Tip #1: Choose the Right Chair
When it comes to improving your office chair posture, the most important piece of furniture to invest in is ergonomic office seating.
- Adjustable parts
- Breathable material
- Comfortable padding
- Easy-to-operate adjustment controls
- Swivels and casters for easier movement
Additionally, every ergonomic office chair should be designed to offer lumbar support.
The lumbar refers to the lowest segment of your spine, which stabilizes the rest of your back, carries the majority of your body weight, and serves as your body’s center of balance.2 Sitting in a chair with lumbar support can help avert lower back pain and help with bad posture.
Tip #2: Adjust Your Chair To Your Body
Ergonomic chairs are highly adjustable, so be sure to customize yours to the set-up you need to stay comfortable throughout a long day of sitting. Often, neglecting to make the appropriate modifications can lead to a sore, aching back by the end of the day.
There are 6 key chair adjustments you can make to ensure you’re seated in the ideal position for your body type:3
- Height – The best height for your office chair enables you to place both feet flat on the floor. Every ergonomic office chair should have an easily adjustable height to make it the perfect fit for you.
- Feet placement – After the height adjustment allows your feet to comfortably reach the floor, lean back in your chair so that your spine is centered on the backrest. If adjusted correctly, your feet should still rest firmly on the floor. If they no longer reach comfortably, adjust your chair height until they do.
- Chair angle – The chair angle adjustment lever allows you to tilt your chair forwards and backwards. For some people, a back-leaning tilt is more comfortable for the spine. People with tight hamstrings may prefer a gentle forward tilt to alleviate some pressure on the back of their legs. When you’ve tailored your chair angle correctly, you shouldn’t be able to feel any strain in your legs or hips.
- Backrest angle and height – The backrest of an office chair is the large section that runs from your neck down to your waist. An ergonomic chair’s backrest is curved, and it’s important to modify its angle to conform to your unique spinal curvature. When adjusted currently, you should feel your backrest adequately supports your lumbar spine.
- Armrest height – A comfortable armrest height gives sufficient space to your neck and shoulders to prevent excess tension from accumulating while sitting. Ideally, your armrests should be set at a height slightly below your desk table. This will enable you to move towards and away from your desk freely throughout the day.
- Seat depth – Seat depth refers to the distance between the back edge and the front of the seat. When your seat depth is adjusted correctly, you should be able to fit your fist between the back of your calves and the front edge of the seat. This allows you to have full leg mobility, alleviating undue stress on your lower half.
Tip #3: Craft a Fully Ergonomic Workstation
While your ergonomic desk chair is the foundation for maintaining proper posture, the rest of your workstation should be designed to support it. Ideally, an ergonomic workstation is designed and outfitted to keep your body in its optimal position while allowing for complete range of motion.
Other desk tools to optimize for ease of use include:
- Keyboard and mouse
- Desk phone
- Footrest, if needed
- Pens, staplers, and other frequently used items
Be sure to organize the rest of your desk only after you’ve adjusted your chair to its proper position. If you work with an ergonomic desk, you can also adjust its height to allow for enough clearance underneath. Then, you can place everything else within easy reach.
Tip #4: Check the Placement of Your Computer Screen
In most modern workspaces, the placement of your computer is a key determinate in your orientation at your desk. As such, slouching or hunching over to view plays a significant role in bad posture.
Here’s how to place your screen in its proper position:4
- Ensure the monitor is directly facing you.
- Modify the distance between you and your screen so that you sit 20 inches or one arm’s length away.
- Adjust the top of your screen so it falls at eye-level, or just below. This will help to prevent eye strain, headaches, and fatigue.
- Position yourself so that the brightest light source in your surroundings is angled towards your computer from the periphery. Not only will help to ensure your computer screen isn’t the only light source, but it can also help to mitigate glare if you use a web camera.
Tip #5: Set Reminders for Frequent Breaks
The more small breaks you can integrate into your day, the better for your body and, ultimately, your posture. Taking breaks can assist with healthy circulation, joint mobility, and even encourage creativity and engagement with the tasks we need to complete each day.5
To reinforce better posture when you’re taking breaks from sitting at your desk, you can try:
- Setting a timer on your phone to remind yourself to stretch
- Taking a short lap around your office in between each task
- Incorporating deep breathing exercises at each break you take
- Heading outside for some fresh air during your lunch break
- Taking a trip up and down the stairs to get your circulation going
Many office workers avoid taking movement breaks because they’re concerned it will interfere with their workflow. But research suggests that incorporating movement into our work days can enhance our productivity by improving focus, bolstering decision-making abilities, and reducing our likelihood of fatigue and burn-out.6
4 Benefits of Improving Your Posture
A straightened spine can do more for your mind and body than just improve your posture.
By tending to our posture and physical selves, you’ll be priming yourself for a more dynamic, balanced, and productive workflow overall.
There are four physical and mental benefits to be gained from cultivating good posture while sitting:7
A stronger core – Having good posture while sitting helps you maintain strength in your core. Strengthening your core isn’t about achieving a six-pack—the muscles in your torso are responsible for stabilizing your spine, which enables the rest of your body to move more smoothly and effectively. Your hips, back, and abdomen all work together to keep your body flexible and strong.
Less joint strain – When you sit for long durations, you may experience hip, shoulder, or neck pain due to being put under a significant amount of stress. Sitting in a slouched or cramped position can exacerbate the amount of strain your joints absorb.
- Better breathing – Breathing complete, full breaths is foundational to staying productive at work.8 Slouching causes compression of the shoulders, ribcage, and abdomen, putting undue pressure on our lungs. With better posture, we allow our spine to lengthen and give our lungs more space to breathe freely.
- Improved mood and energy levels – Maintaining good posture can have a positive impact on your well-being and ability to handle stress. Research suggests that sitting in a relaxed, upright position can help you bolster your energy levels, self-esteem, and overall mood.9
Not only can enhancing your posture at work help to offset a range of long-term health effects, but it can also markedly improve your overall performance on the job.
With a bit of commitment and some effective techniques at your fingertips, you can improve your sense of well-being both in and out of the office.
Build Better Posture At The Office with Juniper
We spend a significant amount of time sitting at a computer, and curating an office setup that lends itself to comfort is fundamental for meeting company milestones.
If your workstation or office could use an ergonomic redesign, we can help. Juniper Office specializes in furnishing workspaces for optimal user comfort and collective productivity. From an ergonomic desk chair to complete office remodeling services, we’re experts in assembling a floor plan that supports your business, departments, and individual employees.
To learn more about how Juniper can give you a boost, explore our products and design services online today.
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ergonomics. https://ehs.unc.edu/workplace-safety/ergonomics/
- Cleveland Clinic. Lumbar Spine. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22396-lumbar-spine
- Back Center. How to Adjust Your Office Chair to Get the Correct Posture. https://backcentre.com.au/how-to-adjust-your-office-chair-to-get-the-correct-sitting-posture/
- Grand Valley State University. Computer Monitor. https://www.gvsu.edu/officeergonomics/computer-monitor-8.htm
- Forbes. New Study Shows Correlation Between Employee Engagement And The Long-Lost Lunch Break. https://www.forbes.com/sites/alankohll/2018/05/29/new-study-shows-correlation-between-employee-engagement-and-the-long-lost-lunch-break/?sh=7e8050d04efc
- Michigan State University. Breaks During the Workday. https://workplace.msu.edu/breaks-during-the-workday
- Rush University. Power of Good Posture. https://www.rush.edu/news/power-good-posture
- Forbes. The Science Of Breathing: How Slowing It Down Can Make Us Calm And Productive. https://www.forbes.com/sites/sethporges/2016/11/28/the-science-of-breathing-how-slowing-it-down-makes-us-calm-and-productive/?sh=3900f44034e4
- PubMed. Do Slumped and Upright Postures Affect Stress Responses? https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25222091
- Better Health Channel. Posture. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/posture