How to Fine Tune Your Office Chair to Avoid Back and Neck Pain

How to Fine Tune Your Office Chair to Avoid Back and Neck Pain

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How to Fine Tune Your Office Chair to Avoid Back and Neck Pain My patient Steve just brought a nice new ergonomic chair that has all the bells and whistles and a lot of different adjusting levels. I get asked this question quite a lot and will talk about little bit about how you want to set up your desk and especially chair at your office or at home. So let's start from the ground up. You want your feet planted firmly right on the ground. If you have a chair or desk that's really high and you can't lower the chair, then you will want to get something underneath your feet to account for that gap because you don't want the chair digging into the back of your of your legs. If there's an adjustable component of the seat or just when you'repicking out a chairyou want to make sure that it's QRW VR ORQJ IRU \RXU OHJV WKDW LW¶s pushing into the back of your leg. You will want to go two or three inches between the end of the chair and the back of the calf. In terms of the level of the height itself as well as if there's a tilt component to it you want to set it such that your hips are level with or preferably a little bit higher than your knees. So we have the up-and-down height adjusted such that your hips are just a little bit higher than your knees and what that does is it pulls the pelvis and hips a little bit forward so that your low back muscles don't have to work as hard to maintain a nice upright posture.

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Published 01 February 2017
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How to Fine Tune Your Office Chair to Avoid Back and Neck Pain
My patient Steve just brought a nice new ergonomic chair that has all the bells and whistles and a lot of different adjusting levels. I get asked this question quite a lot and will talk about little bit about how you want to set up your desk and especially chair at your office or at home. So let's start from the ground up. You want your feet planted firmly right on the ground. If you have a chair or desk that's really high and you can't lower the chair, then you will want to get something underneath your feet to account for that gap because you don't want the chair digging into the back of your of your legs.
If there's an adjustable component of the seat or just when you'repicking out a chairyou want to make sure that it's not so long for your legs that it’s pushing into the back of your leg. You will want to go two or three inches between the end of the chair and the back of the calf. In terms of the level of the height itself as well as if there's a tilt component to it you want to set it such that your hips are level with or preferably a little bit higher than your knees. So we have the upanddown height adjusted such that your hips are just a little bit higher than your knees and what that does is it pulls the pelvis and hips a little bit forward so that your low back muscles don't have to work as hard to maintain a nice upright posture. So you got your feet flat, your knees are a little lower than the hips, you're sitting all the way back into the chair and you've chosen the chair that has a nice back support without an over curvature. If your hips are below your knees while sitting down, what it does is it pulls on your hamstrings and it tends to pull your pelvis back and you tend to slouch in the chair. In this position is very difficult to sit up straight so what you want to do is bring the chair up so that your hips are slightly above your knees and if you just did that with me right there what you're going to feel is that your pelvis is going to roll forward naturally and you're going to sit up a little bit straighter.
Then what we want to do is take the seat pan (the part you're sitting on) and actually pitch it forward just a little bit make it level or slightly forward and again what this does is it rolls the pelvis allows you to sit up straighter. What we see is a lot of people have the chair too low and the seat pan is towards the back at an angle and so the seat is actually throwing them back into the chair, which feels kind of good, but when you go to work then you tend to stretch forward and this puts a lot more stress on your back. If your legs are going downhill you will want your seat pan to go downhill slightly.
The next thing you need to do is set up the back to support you in that neutral posture. Most chairs have backrests that are adjustable. They come up and down and they come in and out. So first what you want to do is set the height of the backrest. My chair has a ratchet back so you just grab it and pull so it comes up and then it drops you can set it at any one of those clicks it will stay there. Once it hits the top it comes all the way down. What we see is people don't know how high to adjust their backrest it is either way too high and pushes on their mid back or its way too low and pushes them out of the chair. So what you want to do is bring up the lumbar support (the bulging part the hits your lumbar spine which is your lower back right about belt level) to bring it up so thatit’ssupporting your lower back. Then use the in/out lever to bring it in and out so that you can sit up straight. Just like when you get a rental car and sit in it, you don't adjust all the mirrors and then adjust the seat. Instead you adjust the seat first then you adjust the mirrors. Same thing when you're setting up your workstation adjust your chair first instead of the rest of the workstation. Let's look at the armrests now. If these are adjustable and you should get adjustable ones, you want them such that
they are supported to the entire forearm so that you're not hanging and pulling on the shoulder muscles. Also they should not be so high that that you are shrugged up because that causes a shortening of the shoulder muscles too. So you want a full support for your arms and they are hanging directly down from your shoulders and everything is back into the seat itself and then your head can be slightly retracted. Then you're in good alignment throughout. You can also get an active chair listed at Allfitnessweb.comas an alternative to your regular office seating so that you can switch between them while working for long hours. This will help you to increase movement of your back muscles thus improving circulation and flexibility. Going on further from your arms, you want to make sure with your desk setup and especially where your monitor and keyboard are, is that you don't have to reach out for the keyboard but that it comes right over so that you can kind of just work right there and then you have your mouse just off to the side of the keyboard. So for that reason if your desk doesn't already have and I often will suggest getting a detachable adjustable keyboard tray so that you can set it however you need to and your arms can stay right besides your body as you work without overstretching.
The other components like the monitor  you want to have that straight in front at eye level so you're not looking down and you're not looking to the sides. If it's off to the side it is a problem. If it's too far down that's a problem. If you have only a laptop, my suggestion is always to have the laptop set up high with the monitors in good position. Then have a plug in USB keyboard so that you can still keep the keyboard down in front of you and have the monitor the right position because if you have it in your lap where your arms need to be then you're looking down, if you have it in front where your head needs to be then your arms are up at the level of your shoulders and you're over using those muscles all day and you're going to get sore and tied up there. I think that's the general setup so you want to make sure that you have bought the right seat that has the
adjustable components. You can set it up in the right way as explained, get the adjustable for keyboard tray, make sure your monitor is where it's at, make sure the text and the images are not so small that even though you're set up right in front you're not leaning forward to see it and sticking your head out. Make sure you know you obviously have the right corrective lenses or whatever you need to make that happen as well.