More and more people spend a large part of the day sitting down, whether at home or at work. The sitting position places more strain on the spine than either walking or lying down, so it is important to sit correctly if you are to avoid back pain. Well-designed furniture can help to keep your back fit.
The spine has a natural S-shape that is most pronounced in the lumbar region – the area known as the small of the back. If you sit correctly, your spine naturally assumes this S-shape and most of your weight is supported by the bottom of the pelvis. But if you slump in your seat, the lumbar spine and pelvis form a C-shape, putting great pressure on the joints, discs and muscles of the lower back.
The right furniture
Although many office workers spend up to 40 hours a week sitting in the same chair, some standard office furniture is not designed with the comfort of the back in mind. A good office chair needs to be fully and easily adjustable, and should work well with the rest of the furniture. The benefits of a new and supportive chair will be reduced if the arm rests prevent you from sitting with your legs under the desk or your feet flat on the floor, for example.
A well-designed hard chair can be just as comfortable as a soft one, and will be more likely to encourage a sitting posture that is beneficial to your back.
A chair on which you “kneel” allows you to sit in a posture that preserves your hack’s natural S-curve and distributes your body weight evenly between your knees and buttocks. Some designs have an integral rocking action that allows for continual changes in posture.
If your work involves a lot of reading, writing or bending over a desk, a sloping work surface such as those used by draftsmen and architects is ideal. If this is impractical, prop up your reading matter against a few books or filing trays. Leaning forward over a desk places great strain on the discs in your umbar region.
If you work at a computer, the keyboard should be in front of the screen. Adjust your seat to place the keyboard roughly at elbow height while allowing your feet to rest firmly on the floor. Your forearms should be reasonably horizontal, and you should be looking slightly downward.
The seat should support your thighs, but the front edge should not dig into them. Adjust the backrest to support the small of your back. If your chair does not provide sufficient lumbar support, try placing one or two cushions behind the small of your back.
Looking down and sideways to copy from documents can lead to neck and back strain. Try using a copyholder to hold the documents beside the screen.