Setting Up Office Chair Adjustments For Healthy Working
It doesn't matter how good your office chair is if it isn't properly set up and adjusted to your requirements it will be uncomfortable and likely give you posture problems regardless of how good a chair it is.
So, lets consider how you should go about making sure your ergonomic office seat is optimally set up for your personal use. I am assuming that you will be using your chair mainly for computer work, although for those who maybe read, make extensive phone calls or even spend time thinking at work I have included some additional suggestions.
Key Postural Points
To better understand how to adjust your desk chair you need first to examine the ideal seating position in relation to your desk and computer.
We'll begin by starting from floor level and working up your body.
Your feet should be flat on the floor, or if you aren't very tall resting on an adjustable footrest.
Your knees should be set so that your lower legs and hips are at an open angle between 90° and 110° with your thighs pointing downwards.
To check if you are correctly sitting in your ergonomic office chair, place a sheet of paper on the chair seat pad once you sit down you should be able to pull the paper out relatively easily.
Additionally, when sitting on the seat pan your lower back and bottom should be firmly at the back of the seat. When correctly adjusted there should be a gap of approximately 2 - 3 inches between the back of your legs and the front edge of the chair.
The lower part of your back should be well supported and in contact with the chair back.
Your neck and shoulders should be relaxed, avoid craning your neck forwards as well as raising or lowering your shoulders unduly.
Finally, your lower arms should be approximately at right angles or slightly more open, preferably resting on the chair's armrests such that your wrists are straight when addressing your keyboard from your office chair.
So, now you know how your body should ideally be seated, let's look at how we adjust your ergonomic office seat to achieve this.
Correctly Adjusting Your Office Chair
First, adjust your office chair seat height, this is usually controlled by a lever or button on the underside which you need to lift upwards or press. Begin by raising the chair's gas lift to its full height to do this raise your body slightly to take your weight off the chair, this allows it to rise.
Using the height control lower yourself gradually until you have the correct seating angle outlined above. As previously stated, use an ergonomic footrest if you have a problem attaining the correct leg position.
Next, adjust the office seat back height so that it gives good support to your lower back and maintains your spine's natural curvature, known as the lordosis.
Backrests adjust in a number of different ways including a simple locking knob or push button on the back stem. Another common adjuster is a pair of push buttons at the bottom of the back which when pressed in allow the back to move up and down on a ratchet. Some of the best office chairs have high backs with an adjustable lumbar support taking away the need for the chair back to move.
If fitted seat depth should be adjusted to suit your leg length and this is usually operated by either a push button or paddle lever on the underside. Another common adjuster is a round wire bar along the front underneath the seat, lifting it allows the seat to adjust. Some high end chairs use a retractable crank handle which you turn to move the seat.
It's important to set the tension required to recline comfortably when you want to lean back in your chair. Where fitted it's usually adjusted by a large knob on the center underside of the chair. Turning it left or right to increase or decrease the pressure. Correctly set you should be able to recline smoothly and comfortably.
Then, adjust your chair's armrests (where fitted) so that your shoulders hang naturally with your forearms resting comfortably on the arm pads.
Adjustable arms rests mostly operate by pressing a button to allow adjustment, while others have knobs to turn to raise and lower the arms.
Next, you need to set up your monitor, mouse and keyboard to suit your newly set up seating position. Both monitor and keyboard should be directly in front of you when sat at your desk in your office seat.
Monitor height should be set such that the top is in line with your eye level and you don't have to strain your neck up or down to view the screen. You will find that your eyes will naturally settle around the centre of your monitor's screen.
The monitor should be set approximately 18" - 24" from your eyes such that you aren't straining to read it when sitting in your computer chair.
Your keyboard and mouse should also be in front of you and slightly under your lower arm level, you shouldn't need to strain to reach either of them from your office seat.
You likely have a preference for which hand you use with your mouse, however if you use your mouse extensively it's not a bad idea to train yourself to be ambidextrous to lessen the chance of any RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury)issues. With a little practice you will find you can do so comfortably when correctly seated in your ergonomic office chair.
Finally, position your office seat, desk and monitor to minimize glare from you screen. If you can see things reflected on your screen before you even switch it on then you need to consider re-positioning your chair, desk and monitor to eliminate or minimize this.
Try and avoid placing your office seat and desk with outside windows directly behind you as this can cause real glare problems and can even render your screen unreadable in very bright sunlight.
If you read a lot as part of your work it is not a good idea to place your reading material on your desk as you will tend to crane your neck downwards placing it under pressure. I suggest using a copy holder adjusted so the top of what you are reading is at eye level, this way your neck is going to be much more relaxed.
When you use the phone a lot you absolutely must avoid trapping it between shoulder and neck as it is very bad for your posture and may result in long term neck issues. Instead try using a speaker phone or headset if you need to make notes or if not just hold it in your other hand as you write.
Many people like to think things through sitting at their desk and often reclining in your chair seems to help with this. If you tend to work like this try picking a chair which allows a good reclining angle and yet doesn't tip you and the chair arms up in the air at the same time.
Summary Of Key Points
So to summarize how to seat yourself correctly, adjust and set up an ergonomic office chair. Run through this top to bottom body check to ensure you are correctly positioned in your ergonomic office seat.
- Make sure your chair's seat height is properly adjusted for your legs.
- Make sure your chair's backrest is set correctly giving support to your lower back.
- Shoulders, neck and arms should feel natural and unstrained if your seating position is correct.
- If fitted slide the seat to support your legs comfortably
- Tension control where fitted should allow you to recline smoothly
- Position your monitor, keyboard and mouse properly in relation to your seating position.
- Try using a copy holder when you read a lot at work relieving pressure on your neck
- Never wedge your phone between shoulder and neck it's terrible for your posture
One final point, make regular changes in your work flow, vary your work so that you don't find you are typing non stop for hours on end. Even a quick five minute break and exercise every thirty minutes or so is very beneficial.
Don't find you are feeling welded in your computer chair through poor working practice.
Read this article to find out why seat depth adjustment is critical for your long term sitting comfort.