I started playing piano when I was 22, and by 24, I had severe tendonitis on both arms because of poor technique. My wrists were locked, elbows too bowed, shoulders too tight and I basically white knuckled it all the way towards early retirement from the concert stage (I was never really on the stage, but you get what I mean).
The same could be said for the desk job that had me slouched over, pounding away at another type of keyboard and heading for a chiropractor, early and often. Before long, I had picked up an extremely comfortable Orbis foam back rest which I still use every single work day, but it was no substitution for making a conscious effort to sit properly.
And just what does good sitting posture look like? Here’s a quick primer from Spine-Health on how to keep your spine in it’s natural position while in a chair.
- Elbow measure
First, begin by sitting comfortably as close as possible to your desk so that your upper arms are parallel to your spine. Rest your hands on your work surface (e.g. desktop, computer keyboard). If your elbows are not at a 90-degree angle, adjust your office chair height either up or down.
- Thigh measure
Check that you can easily slide your fingers under your thigh at the leading edge of the office chair. If it is too tight, you need to prop your feet up with an adjustable footrest. If you are unusually tall and there is more than a finger width between your thigh and the chair, you need to raise the desk or work surface so that you can raise the height of your office chair.
- Calf measure
With your bottom pushed against the chair back, try to pass your clenched fist between the back of your calf and the front of your office chair. If you can’t do that easily, then the office chair is too deep. You will need to adjust the backrest forward, insert a low back support (such as a lumbar support cushion, a pillow or rolled up towel), or get a new office chair.
- Low back support
Your bottom should be pressed against the back of your chair, and there should be a cushion that causes your lower back to arch slightly so that you don’t slump forward or slouch down in the chair as you tire over time. This low back support in the office chair is essential to minimize the load (strain) on your back. Never slump or slouch forward in the office chair, as that places extra stress on the structures in the low back, and in particular, on the lumbar discs.
A prominent neurosurgeon once said, ‘You are only as young as your spine is flexible’. So let’s try to maintain good sitting posture to ensure we don’t end up in a wheelchair.