by Cheryl Sklar
How many times, while growing up and even as an adult, have your parents said, “Sit up straight,” or “Don’t slump your shoulders”? These days, with so many of us spending so much time in front of a computer monitor, we rarely think about how poorly we are treating our bodies, which – by the way – we really need to treat better.
According to the United States Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (also known as OSHA), there are certain standard working positions that are considered better, and safer, than others.
Neutral body positioning is a comfortable working posture in which your joints are naturally aligned. Working with the body in a neutral position reduces stress and strain on the muscles, tendons, and skeletal system and reduces your risk of developing a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD). The following are important considerations when attempting to maintain neutral body postures while working at the computer workstation:
- Hands, wrists, and forearms are straight, in-line and roughly parallel to the floor.
- Head is level, or bent slightly forward, forward facing, and balanced. Generally it is in-line with the torso.
- Shoulders are relaxed and upper arms hang normally at the side of the body.
- Elbows stay in close to the body and are bent between 90 and 120 degrees.
- Feet are fully supported by the floor or a footrest may be used if the desk height is not adjustable.
- Back is fully supported with appropriate lumbar support when sitting vertical or leaning back slightly.
- Thighs and hips are supported by a well-padded seat and generally parallel to the floor.
- Knees are about the same height as the hips with the feet slightly forward.
Regardless of how good your working posture is, working in the same posture or sitting still for prolonged periods is not healthy. You should change your working position frequently throughout the day in the following ways:
- Make small adjustments to your chair or backrest.
- Stretch your fingers, hands, arms, and torso.
- Stand up and walk around for a few minutes periodically. See Richard’s great Tip about Taking A Break during your workday.
A couple good ideas to help you be productive while taking a break:
- Take a walk with a colleague around the parking lot for just 10 minutes every hour or so.
- Take a walk by yourself to clear your head and step away from technology (this means taking in the scenery, not looking at your phone while you’re walking). By the way, taking a short, refreshing break IS being productive. EverybodyWalk.org is an informative website with lots of information about the benefits of walking – and ways to incorporate it into your life.
- Have that phone conversation, conference call or quick meeting with a colleague while you’re walking – either outside, in your office or around your office building.
- Be sure to walk with good posture, too.
Your parents will be so proud of you. And you’ll feel better and find that you’re more productive, as well.
Cheryl Sklar With over 25 years of experience in sales, marketing and general coordination, Cheryl uses her varied organizational skills to enhance the behind the scenes workings of Network 1. She strives to help things run smoothly wherever she can.
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Network 1 Consulting is a 16-year-old, IT Support company in Atlanta, GA. We become – or augment – the IT department for law firms and medical practices. Our IT experts can fix computers – but what our clients really value are the industry-specific best practices we bring to their firms. This is especially important with technology, along with regulations and cyber threats, changing so rapidly. We take a proactive approach to helping our clients use technology to gain and keep their competitive advantage.