Ergonomics: Correct sitting posture at your desk


Ergonomics: Correct sitting posture and Chair recommendations

Optimal ergonomics are important to prevent or limit desk related back pain, neck pain and work related upper limb disorder [previously called RSI: repetitive strain injury]. Make sure you have a good adjustable ergonomic chair. Ask your physiotherapist for advice re: seat height, desk height, arm support and ergonomic chair and desk recommendations.

Tips on healthy ergonomic sitting posture at your desk:

Sit with your feet flat on the floor. Your feet should be parallel to each other and hip width apart.
Use the correct seat height. Your hips need to be higher than or level with your knees, but not lower.
Use the whole seat.  Move your buttocks all the way to the back of the seat.
Use the whole back rest. Sit upright from your lower back and don’t overcorrect by arching the high part of your lower back.
Use the correct working height. Your forearms should be supported on the desk. If you need to slump to get your forearms on the desk, the desk is too low relative to your seat. If your shoulders are pushed up when your forearms are on the desk, the desk is too high relative to your seat.
People with work related upper limb disorder [RSI] often sit too far from their desks. You should sit as close as possible to the working surface. Your abdomen should nearly touch the desk.
Keep your mouse and keyboard close to you so that your arms do not need to stretch out towards them. That would cause tension in the neck and shoulder muscles and contribute to irritating the nerves.
Computer screen needs to be directly in front of you at eye level. If your screen is even slightly off to one side your neck muscles will become unbalanced.
If using a laptop lift the back of the laptop by using a laptop stand or even a book.
Clear your desk of clutter so you can move easily.
Clear the area under your desk of clutter so you can easily wheel to the left and right if you need to work on something else and keep your work directly in front of you.

Tips on movements to manage work related upper limb disorder [RSI]:

Move or stand up every 40-60 minutes or as often as possible. If you are sore or even if you struggle with arm, neck or back pain often as a result of desk work it is advisable to move every 20 minutes. Our bodies are not designed to sit still for long periods. Remind yourself to move often: e.g. is an ergonomic software programme that gives a free trial period of a pop up on your screen. This will get you into the good habit of moving often. Nerves love big movements and are at risk of becoming painful when you sit still and only do repetitive small movements e.g.: typing and clicking your mouse

Ensure correct ergonomics as described above. Move often: Rotate your thoracic spine. Rotate your cervical spine by looking from left to right while in a tall upright posture. Reach your arms up into the air and move them around by reaching in different directions. Ask your physio to show you more specific neural tissue movements to ensure healthy neural mobility. At Physio Active it is important for us to help you to help yourself. Our physios will evaluate your posture and muscle imbalances that put you at risk of developing pain form working on your computer. Based on our evaluation we will be able to give you customised advice and rehabilitation exercises. Often it is necessary to mobilise the painful joints, nerves and muscles with appropriate hands on treatment. Francie Bührmann, Mandy Marsden and Hanette Lemke have all 3 completed a post graduate diploma in Orthopaedic Manual Therapy [OMT 1] and various other manual training courses.

Ergonomic chair and desk recommendations:

Which chair or desk should I buy?

It can be a difficult decision when you have to buy an ergonomically well designed chair. Please take your time and make a well informed decision. Examples of chairs and other ergonomically well designed furniture that the physio’s at Physio Active can recommend are listed below:

From All Office: Herman Miller chairs:
Models – Aeron (±R7 000),
Mirra (±R8 500): This is a very popular and comfortable chair.
Contact them on (021) 440-7700

From Dauphin Human Design Group: Dauphin chairs:
Daupin Human Design Group is the first office seating company in South Africa to receive the Ergonomics Society of South Africa ( ESSA ) stamp of approval for considering the long term wellbeing of users particularly in regards to the Dato chair range
The Dato chair is ergonomically designed and has excellent adjustability to be suited to implementation within a diverse population (Price Range ±R5 200-R6 700 ex VAT)
The armrests are height adjustable, they are also width adjustable
The seat has the added feature of allowing the user to slide the seat forward or backwards to set at a depth for added support to the user
The backrest has an optional additional adjustable lumbar cushion for added comfort and support
The mechanism has an additional feature which allows the user to change the angle of the seat to backrest ratio for added ergonomic benefits
Contact Sihaam on 021 448-3682 or 084 505 6727 or or have a look at their website:

From Ergotherapy Solutions:
Get One chair: Model – Get One (±R3 000)
For your child: Get One Junior
Contact Angela on 082 851-7938 or Jana on 072 778-8133 or

From Office National:
Drive Midback Typist Chair – Gas Height Adjustable (±R1 400)
Zoom Typist Chair – Gas Height Adjustable (±R1 100)
Modo Ergonomically designed chair for ultimate comfort (±R1 500)
Contact Alison on 021 510-5701 or or have a look at their website

There is also a range of height adjustable desks which you can get from the following supplier:  Table Top Furniture
Contact Table Top Furniture on 021 510-1460. You can view their range on their website.