Image Map

GENERAL INFORMATION,  RECOMMENDATIONS, AND GUIDELINES FOR
DESK SET UP & WORK ERGONOMICS


Patient Resource About Osteopathy Osteopathy for Babies OsteoInfo News Profile Contact Image Map
 
 
Sitting down has become part of most people daily activities and many aspects of our world is designed to be experienced from the seated position (from driving our cars or taking public transport, to working at a desk to operating machinery to taking planes, to eating dinner, to reading a book or taking in a film). Postural strain can commonly arise from extended periods of sustained posture (e.g. sitting for too long or sitting with poor posture) which can result in abnormal stresses on the bodies tissues resulting in pain and dysfunction.
 
As with all daily activities it is best to do everything in moderation and that includes the amount of time that you sit. It is unrealistic to expect anyone to spend the whole day with a "perfect posture" but practicing the principals of of good posture will allow for greater periods of relief which may also create a reduction in incidence of postural strain.

Remember: everybody has different needs, different work demands, different lifestyles, different bodies and different states of health. Finding the right set-up for you means following a set of postural philosophies and experimenting with what works best for you. The following information should act as guide.
 
General Recommendations
In most cases these recommendation may be seen as time wasting at work but once habits are created you will likely find that your productivity will not change and may improve.
  • Minimise periods of sitting: Try not to sit for greater than 20-30 minutes at a time. Create habits such as getting up to talk on your phone, getting up for a drink or to talk face to face with colleagues.
  • Stand when talking to people or when having meetings or organise walking/outdoor meetings.
  • Change the way commute to/from work. Ride your bike, walk to work or walk half way then catch public transport, take a walk every lunch break.
  • Lighting: aim for natural light or if that is not possible allow for the room to be well lit.
  • At home: Try and reduce the amount of time sitting in chairs at home. Sit on the floor to read a book or watch television or get out in the garden, play some sports/gym.
  • Exercise: our bodies are sustaining long periods of minimal activity at work so we have to counter-act that with some regular exercise and fitness - this is simple: the more time you spend sitting it is recommended the more time you need to allocate to being active outside of work.
The Don'ts
  • Do not sit for long periods without a break. You may not feel the strain but it is more than likely occurring.
  • Don't lean forward or sit on the edge of your chair
  • Don't have your feet hanging off the ground (for too long (it is sometimes relieving to move your feet around so this can be done when required).

General Guidelines for Desk Set-Up
The following image illustrates a general guide for sitting with appropriate support and positioning for all parts of the body. In addition ensure the elbow is rested close to the  body with the mouse use in that line. Feet can also be placed on the floor (the foot rest is displayed for those desks that are too high to be able to place your feet on the ground).


Recommendations & the future of office/computer culture
There is a growing body of evidence that extended periods of sedentary lifestyle (long term sitting is included in this) is detrimental to both our musculus-skeletal health and our systemic health. Sedentary lifestyles are are partly causing an increased incidence of such issues as postural strain, heart disease and diabetes etc.
 
There is a gradual shift to a more dynamic work place that incorporates multiple work stations with an aim at offering the worker a change in posture throughout the day (e.g.spend the morning sitting, the middle of the day standing, and then move to a kneeling or floor sitting desk).

Intuitive organisations are beginning to install desks that adjust heights to meet these postural changes and work places that allow workers to move throughout the day to different stations. A healthy and dynamic work day may be seen as a more productive day as workers bodies will longer sustain one posture and this will more likely keep postural strain away.
 
It is important that you get creative with your work place and initiate changes for yourself and others around you. You can enjoy a healthy office career if the place you work in is dynamic to individuals and reduces sustained postural strain. For example, if you have a lap-top computer and you work from home sometimes, set it up on the kitchen bench whilst standing, move to the table and sit then get on the coffee table and work on the floor (there are a variety of variances in positions to try).