Friday, March 26, 2010

Healthy spine, better productivity

Playing three high school sports, working office jobs sitting in front of a computer, and years of less-than-perfect posture have made my back and neck susceptible to misalignment.  Now that I work from home in my cozy home-office I started to evaluate what my ergonomics situation is like.  (My chiropractor would be so proud!)

Employing good office-place ergonomics results in improved productivity and better health.  Physicians at believe you can avoid pain at your desk by evaluating the following:
  • Your seated posture.  Do you sit at the front of your chair hunched over?   The better seated posture is to sit back in the office chair and utilize the chair’s lumbar support to keep the head and neck erect.
  • Time spent at your desk. If you are at your desk for prolonged periods of time, do you stretch and/or take walking breaks?  Runs to the coffee-maker are a good thing!
  • Your workstation. How do your desk, computer and chair relate to one another? Spine professionals give the following guidelines to ensure proper relation of these three key items:
1.   Choose the surface height for the desk (standing, sitting or semi-seated) best for the task to be performed. Architects and draftsman may want a higher surface for drawing while computer entry work could be seated or standing, depending on the need to use other tools or references. The specific height of the work surface will also need to vary based on the height of the individual worker.
2.   Adjust the seat of the office chair so that the work surface is “elbow high.” A fist should be able to pass easily behind the calf and in front of the seat edge to keep the back of the legs from being pressed too hard and the feet from swelling. Two fingers should slip easily under each thigh. If not, use a couple of telephone books or a footrest to raise the knees level with the hips. The backrest of the office chair should push the low back forward slightly. If these adjustments cannot be adequately made with the existing office chair, a different make or type of chair may be considered.
3.   Fit the height of the computer screen. Sit comfortably in the newly adjusted office chair. Close both eyes and relax. Then, slowly reopen them. Where the gaze initially focuses should be when the eyes open is the place to put the center of the computer screen. The screen can be raised using books or a stand if needed.

After evaluating my own office space I’m realizing that although I’ve been fighting the urge to cross my legs (a no-no while sitting at your computer!), I still haven’t found the proper alignment with my legs and my chair. I plan to give a few other chairs in this house a try or consider purchasing a foot rest that will get my knees level with my hips.

I hope your spine is happy today!


  1. The foot rest is an excellent idea! It made a huge difference for me in my cubicle...

  2. Glad to hear that works for you-- I think it's going to be inevitable in mine (unless I can find some old phone books!)

  3. get on the ball girl! K