Are you sitting comfortably?
By Amanda Harris MCSP
March 12 2021 - Poor posture is one of the of the most common causes of injury and lost working days. In 2019/20 nearly half a million people in the UK suffered from (new or longstanding) injuries and 8.9 million working days lost due to work-related musculoskeletal disorders in 2019/20. The pandemic, with people working from their kitchen tables, sofas and even beds, has made things much worse.
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Display Screen Equipment Regulations employers are responsible for the protection of the health and safety of staff who work from home as well as office-based workers. It is therefore essential that you carry out a review of your own workstation and that of the employees you’re responsible for.
Since the start of the first lockdown my team and I have carried out nearly 1,000 remote desk tests. Below are the most common problems we’ve found and tips for solving them.
The following all cause pains in the neck and back, are:
- The chair is not the right height for the table. This can lead to people raising their shoulders when using the keyboard.
- Overuse of laptops which are too low for extended use.
- Use of dual screens which require the user to turn their neck from side to side.
- Lack of movement during the day.
Ideal Workstation Set up
Raise the height of your chair so that your elbows are at right angles and your forearms are parallel with the desk. If your chair isn’t adjustable in height try sitting on a cushion.
Check to see if your feet are fully supported on the floor. If they aren’t put them on a foot rest or improvise by putting them on a cushion.
Once your feet are on the footrest your hips should be slightly higher or level with your knees.
Sit back in the chair to support your spine.
Adjust your chair so that your lower back is supported or place a rolled-up towel in the small of your back.
Adjust the height of your screen so that your eyes are level with the top of the display screen and that the screen is roughly an arms length away from you.
If you use a laptop, raise it on a stand or a pile of books and use a separate keyboard and mouse.
If you use two screens, adjust them so that you can see both screens easily without moving your head to one side.
To reduce eye fatigue, try the 20 20 20 rule: every 20 minutes look at something at least 20 feet away, that’s about 6 metres for 20 seconds. This stops your eye muscles getting overworked.
Get up and move at least once an hour. This could be to get a drink or to do some stretches.
Amanda Harris MCSP, Physiotherapist & Founder of The Physio Company which has clinics in London and Surrey