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How to sit at a desk

Man sitting at a desk at home

Sitting at a desk for a prolonged period, or in the wrong position, can contribute to numerous health issues.1 Sitting for a long time can put you at risk of high blood pressure, osteoporosis, weight gain, and a weakened immune system. Bad posture can also contribute to pain throughout the body, including repetitive strain injury, postural fatigue and eye strain.2 If you’re already struggling with bone or muscle strain, try supplements to ease the symptoms.

Assessing your sitting position

Sitting in a correct position can be an important factor in maintaining your overall health. Not only can assuming a good posture reduce pain and health risks, but it can also boost productivity.

Adjust your chair

Adjust your chair

Adjust your chair until your feet are comfortably flat on the ground, the top of your legs are parallel, and your knees are even with, or slightly below, your hips. If you are unable to reach the ground with your feet, use a footrest. Don’t sit with your legs crossed!

Your wrists and forearms should also be parallel with the ground. Your elbows should be by your side and able to extend into an L-shaped bend.3

Support your back

Back pain is a common ailment stemming from poor postural alignment. There are several steps you can take to reduce or prevent back pain. While adjusting your chair, make sure your lower back is well supported. Sit straight and keep your hips far back in the chair to avoiding slouching.

Suitable chair types for desks are those that are easily adjustable, allowing alteration of height, back position, and tilt. You can also invest in ergonomic chairs, which will adequately support your whole body.4

Assess your desk setup

Assessing your desk setup can alleviate or prevent pain and muscle tension.

Readjust screen levels

Readjust screen levels

The top of your screen should be roughly at eye level, directly in front of you and around an arm’s length away to reduce neck strain.5 A monitor stand can raise the screen to achieve this positioning.

Keyboard and mouse position

Position your keyboard in front of you and keep your arms in the L-shape position, elbows by your side. You should try to leave a gap of around four to six inches between the keyboard and edge of your desk to allow your wrists to rest.6

Have your mouse as close as possible to avoid overreaching. A mouse mat with an added wrist pad can help keep your wrist aligned and reduce strain.

Screen reflection

Adjust your monitor to avoid reflection from lights or direct sunlight. You should try to prevent any glare on your screen to reduce eye strain. You can also change your screen’s brightness and contrast to get the best screen quality for you.

You should also avoid wearing bifocal glasses while you look at a computer screen as this might result in moving your head up and down frequently to see the screen, adding to any neck and muscle strain.7

Keep essential objects in reach

Any object on your desk should be within an easy reaching distance, so you won’t need to twist or stretch to access it. You should try to avoid cradling a phone with your ear and shoulder; a headset can be a good option if you’re on calls throughout the day.

Take regular breaks

Remember to take frequent short breaks from sitting to allow muscles to relax and promote blood flow.

It's also important to keep your desk and equipment clean, find out how to clean your desk and how to clean your laptop.

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