how to sit properly at a desk

How To Sit Properly At A Desk [Infographic]

Sitting is a bit of an art.

Some people don’t know how to sit properly at a desk, thinking that going to the gym can remove the damage that sitting can cause.

It goes without saying that sitting for long hours a day is harmful, many studies around the world proved it.

That’s why several companies nowadays offer alternatives to the standard office desk setup like standing desks, treadmill desks, under desk ellipticals and bikes.

But let’s face it! Chairs are inevitable, we need them in our day to day activities, even outside the office.

That being said, how should we sit at our desks, and what’s the best way to sit up straight at a desk. 

how to sit properly at a desk

How to Correclty Sit at A Desk

Most of the time we use our laptops or desktops while working, sometimes we need our tablets too.

Whatever your situation requires, stick to the following instructions. They describe how every part of your body should be when sitting in a chair, listed from the head to the feet.

… The Head – The Eyes:

Looking down at your screen increases the pressure on your neck, which leads to pain.

Your line vision should be perpendicular to your monitor, exactly directed to the top 1/3 of it.  The viewing distance between you and the screen should be between 18 to 28 inches, that’s like an arm’s length away.

… The Shoulders:

Your shoulders should be aligned with your ears feeling relaxed and low, not high and hunched up.

If your chair includes armrests, adjust their position so that they serve this purpose.

… The Arms – The Hands:

Your lower arms should be parallel to the floor. They should rest on support, rather than being held up.

In other words, your elbows should be by the side of your body so your arm forms an L-shape at the elbow joint (90° angle).

Watch out with the position of your keyboard and mouse, they also impact the way you position your hands, wrists, and arms.

So, place your keyboard in front of you when typing, and leave a gap of about 4 to 6 inches (100mm-150mm) at the front of the desk to rest your wrists between bouts of typing.

To keep your wrists straight at the same level as the keys and avoid awkward bending, you can use a wrist rest or a mouse mat with a wrist pad like this one. (link to Amazon)

… The Back:

Your back has to be correctly and comfortably supported. 

The upper part should be straight, and the lower part should conserve its natural curve (S-shape). 

That’s why it’s very important to get an ergonomic chair. Get one that has lumbar support, armrests and can be adjusted.

Without support, the back tends to get too much of a curve in the opposite direction. What’s known as kyphosis, or more commonly, hunchback.

… The Hips – The Knees:

Your upper legs should be at a 90° angle from your body.

Your hips should be as close to the back of the chair as possible.

Your knees should be slightly lower than your hips.

… The Feet:

Your feet should be flat on the floor.

In case your chair is not adjustable you can use a footrest if you are short. And if you are tall, consider getting a higher chair.

Avoid just putting your toes on the floor, it isn’t enough!

Set Up An Ergonomic Workstation

A large part of sitting properly at one’s desk relies on the arrangement of the workstation.

Here are some of what you need to build an ergonomic one:

1.A Good Chair

Correct posture is easier with an ergonomic and well-designed chair.

A good office chair helps you sit correctly. It should:

  • Support the upper and lower back
  • Offer the ability to adjust the height and to recline
  • Include armrests (and why not a headrest)
  • Offer comfort padding on the back and seat

2. An Adjustable Desk

A standing desk, also called a stand-up desk, is basically a desk that allows you to adjust the height, so you can work comfortably while sitting or standing.

Besides, all the health benefits that it provides like reducing back pain, lowering your blood sugar levels, and improving your mood. A sit-to-stand desk will also boost your productivity and increase your activity during the day.

3. An Ergonomic Keyboard

If you do a lot of typing, an ergonomic keyboard might be a desk necessity.

Ergonomic keyboards are mainly designed to reduce strain by keeping your hands, wrists, and arms at more comfortable, natural positions than you can get with the standard ones.

We recommend The Kinesis Freestyle Edge RGB. (link to Amazon)

It’s a fully split design. You can position the halves of the keyboard as close together or as far apart as you’d like, in order to reduce shoulder strain and neck tension. It also has palm support and the ability to tent it to 5, 10, or 15 degrees.

4. An Ergonomic Mouse

If you are a designer, a programmer, or working a job that requires a lot of mouse movement, you know the cramping you feel in your hands and wrists from hours of working at the computer.

A standard computer mouse forces wrist pronation and stress on tendons, which can lead to repetitive stress injuries and long-term damage.

An ergonomic mouse is designed to require less grip strength than a traditional mouse. We recommend Logitech MX Master 2S Wireless Mouse.(link to Amazon)

Change Your Position Every 30 Min

Studies recommend moving for short periods every 30 minutes or so when sitting for extended intervals to increase blood flow and re-energize the body.

Something as simple as a 30-minute power walk can help counteract the negative effects of prolonged sitting and engage the muscles needed for good posture.

Basic yoga poses can also help in stretching and strengthening the muscles such as those in the back, neck, and hips that get tense when sitting.

how to sit properly at a desk

Stay Within Your Reach Zone

Anything that you constantly use (your phone, mouse, or water bottle) can be a stressor on your body if you’re always reaching out to grab it. Instead of forcing your body to overwork and be in an uncomfortable position, keep these must-use items within your reach zone.

Use A Headset

If you spend a lot of time on the phone, try exchanging your handset for a headset. Repeatedly cradling the phone between your ear and shoulder can strain the muscles in your neck.

Rest Your Eyes

Avoid eye fatigue by resting and refocusing your eyes periodically. Look away from the monitor and focus on something in the distance. Rest your eyes by covering them with your palms for 10-15 seconds.

What About When I’m Not Using A Computer?

We’ve seen how to sit well at a desk with computer.

When not in front of a computer, like at home, the right sitting position remains almost the same:

  • Back against the chair,
  • Shoulders relaxed (not hunched),
  • Feet flat on the ground,
  • Arms and legs parallel to the floor.

Once at home, relax. But always pay attention to your posture. The correct posture is not only when seated in your office chair, but also when watching TV or having dinner with family.