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How to Pick a Health-Friendly Office Chair

If you work in an office, it’s likely you sit all day.  You probably spend hours and hours in your chair—rarely giving thought to the chair that’s holding you up.

But if you were training for a marathon and spent hours running, wouldn’t you buy good
running shoes?

Choosing an office chair can make the difference between coming home exhausted and in pain, and coming home invigorated.  Here’s what to look for in a good chair.

  • Chair Shape:  Choose a chair that follows the contour of your spine—especially if you are shorter or taller than average.
  • Lumbar Support:  Test the lumbar support to make sure it fits snug against your lumbar, giving support to prevent slouching or tension.
  • Arm rests:  Look for adjustable arm rests that adjust up and down as well as in and out for different body widths.  Align the arm rests so that they support the weight of your arms when your arms extend down naturally from your shoulders.
  • Adjustable seat height:  Adjust the seat height so that your arms extend to your desk at 90° angles.  Depending on your leg length, you may need a foot rest to support your legs so that your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • Seat length:  Sit on the chair with your bottom against the back of the chair.  The seat length should be 2-3 finger lengths between the end of the chair and the inside of your knee.
  • Seat cushion:  Make sure the seat is comfortable.

Once you have your seat adjusted for good body posture, you’re ready for the final step for healthy office posture.

Raise your computer screen so you can see it with your head in a neutral position.  This usually means that your keyboard must be separate from the screen.  If you use a laptop, put the laptop on a stand and use a separate keyboard on your desk when typing.

Pain Reducing Desk Stretches

A regular routine of stretching will relieve aches and pains and help prevent office injuries.

  1. Start with a simple head roll—head forward, to the side, back, to the other side and back forward again.  The slower the better.  Reverse.
  2. Shrug your shoulders and roll them forward and backward.
  3. Reach up and then back, touching your back with your right hand as far below your neck as you can.  Use your left hand to gently push your right elbow farther behind your head.  Repeat on the other side.
  4. Clasp your hands and turn them so your palms extend in front of you.  Extend your arms forward and then above your head.
  5. Extend your right arm in front of you, with the fingers pointing up and palm forward.  Use your left hand to gently pull the fingers toward your body.  Repeat on the other side.
  6. Cross your right leg over your left one.  Twist to the right, using your left arm for leverage against your right knee.  Repeat on the other side.
  7. Sit on the edge of your chair, legs extended in front of you (make sure the chair is secure if it has wheels).  Gently reach for your toes.  If you have back issues, use your desk or a wall to support your body weight as you gently reach forward.  Hold and breathe for 10 seconds.
  8. Walk around.  Find reasons to make small trips away from your desk.  Any movement is better than no movement.
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