On average, Americans spend more than eight hours sitting on a chair while working at office. The sedentary lifestyle is the leading cause of musculoskeletal disorders in the workforce. You are lucky if you have an ergonomic chair at your workstation as it helps maintain a neutral posture.
Workplace ergonomics is essential for maintaining the right posture and preventing back issues and repetitive strain injuries at the workplace. However, you must know how to adjust your ergonomic chair to your physical needs. Remember, ergonomics is all about making the working environment comfortable that minimizes the use of force, contact stress, and extend reach.
Essentials of Ergonomics
Before we share some useful tips to adjust your ergonomic chair, it is essential to recall some basics. Even if your company/ employers provide you with an ergonomic set-up at the workplace, you must consider certain factors.
Finding the Right or Neutral Posture
The first principle of ergonomics is to maintain the right posture, whether you are sitting or standing. There is no rocket science in finding the right position or alignment. Scoot the chair away from the desk and sit comfortably, just like you sit on the driving seat of a car.
Your feet must be flat on the floor, your hands in your lap, and shoulders in a relaxing posture. If you feel comfortable, this is your neutral posture. This posture keeps your vertebrae stacked, and your pelvis positioned. Maintain the same posture while working (your hands will be on the desk).
Placing the Keyboard and Mouse at the Right Distance
Hyperextension or closing your elbows for a longer period increases the risk of RSI and decreased blood circulation. So, considering your neutral posture, place your keyboard and mouse such that your elbows are by your side and your arms at a 90-degree angle. This reduces muscular exertion and nerve strain. Consider buying an ergonomic keyboard for better typing posture.
Adjusting the Screen Height and Distance
If you spend 7-8 hours in front of a screen, make sure to adjust it at the right level. As a rule of thumb, the top screen must be at your eye level or slightly above it.
Positioning the monitor is not difficult; if the screen is too far from the chair, you will crane, or as ergonomics experts say, turtle your neck.
The key is to sit back and extend your arms. If the tip of your long finger lands on your screen, your monitor is at the right distance. Also, tilt the monitor/screen down slightly to avoid glare or reflections.
Tips to Adjust your Ergonomic Chair
While all ergonomics equipment is essential to create a comfortable working environment, an ergonomic chair is the main lead. You spend more time with your chair than with your family. So, make sure to choose the right “sitting” partner.
Traditional chairs and desks usually have fixed heights. But, now you can get customized, height-adjustable chairs specially designed for ergonomics. If you find yourself sitting on one leg or some funky position on an ergonomic chair, it is a signal that you must make adjustments to your chair.
For instance, you may have to adjust the chair’s height such that your feet land flat on the floor. Or you may have to make changes to the armrests to place your shoulders in a relaxing position. Here are some tips to help you with your ergonomics chair adjustment.
Adjust the Seat Height
Height adjustment is crucial to an ergonomic chair. Your chair’s height must match the height of your workstation set-up, i.e., your desk and computer/screen. To get the correct seat height, stand in the front of your ergonomic chair and adjust the seat pan such that it is just below the knee caps.
Now sit in the chair in a manner that your back firmly slides against the chair’s back. Gradually adjust the seat cylinder, bringing it to the correct height. Your feet must touch the floor flat with your knees forming a 90-degree angle. If you have a shorter height, use a footrest.
Adjust the Seat Depth
The depth of a chair’s seat pan can is vital to sitting comfort. You can achieve the right seat depth. How? Well, here is an ergo tip. Sit in your chair such that there is a little space, ideally the size of a clenched fist, between your chair’s front edge and the back of your knees.
Adjust the Back Tilt Tension
Ergonomics chairs have a little knob that allows the users to adjust the tilt tension, i.e., how comfortably they want to rock back in the chair. While the choice is yours, for the back support, you need enough tension. Whereas, when you need to reposition or stretch your spine, you can recline back the tilt tension a few degrees.
Adjust the Lumbar Support
A good quality ergonomic chair comes with an adjustable lumbar support feature. It is the contour of the chair’s back support outlining your lower back. So its adjustment is essential; the lumbar support (the slightly curvy portion) must fit right in the natural S-curve of the spine. This is a built-in feature in most ergonomics chairs so that you can easily adjust both the height and the lumbar support of the chair simultaneously.
Adjust the Arm Support
When sitting on a chair, your arms must rest at your side. This posture reduces pressure and strain from your upper back as well as shoulders. Armrests come with height-adjustment features; some chairs also have armrests that have offer depth adjustment. So, you can adjust the height and depth of your chair’s armrests to fit your body.
Adjust the Headrest
You must also adjust the headrest of the chair if it includes one. As the name suggests, headrests provide support to your head and neck when you are working in a reclined position. It keeps your head at the eye level with your screen.
Adjustment and comfort lie at the core of an ergonomic chair. If you don’t adjust the height, depth, lumbar support, or armrests of your chair, you will not be able to enjoy the real comfort of an ergonomic set-up. But remember, an ergonomic chair cannot replace the benefit of physical movement. So, take a break every 30 minutes, go for a short break, and then resume your work.