What is the proper way to sit in an office chair?

Megan Smith
 min read

What is the proper way to sit in an office chair and how to set up an ergonomic workplace?

what is the proper way to sit in an office chairThis page introduces you to numerous ergonomic tips and tricks to optimize and improve your sitting posture as a plus-size or obese person in an office chair.

What is the proper way to sit in an office chair? Introduction

Most Americans find themselves in a job that keeps them at their desks for at least 40 hours a week, and you may well be one of them.

Sitting down for hours on end makes it too easy to hunch over a keyboard, which can trigger some unpleasant aches and pains.

Have you ever felt any pain or tension from your neck downwards, yes, right down to your hips and knees, with poor circulation to boot?

Then you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about. But it’s not all doom and gloom!

Combine the right office chair with a correct seating position

It is possible to reverse these unpleasant side effects with a combination of the right chair and the correct seated posture.

Regarding the office chair: Read our related blogpost What is the most durable material for an office chair? to learn more about durable office chairs for heavier and/or taller people.

Poor posture (e.g., dropped shoulders, protruding neck and curved spine) is the main reason for physical discomfort so prevalent among office workers.

It is crucial to acknowledge how important it is to maintain a correct posture throughout the workday.

Not only does the proper posture reduce physical discomfort and pain, but it can also improve your productivity through better moods and self-confidence.

Excellent office chair posture tips

Almost all office jobs are done in front of a computer, so here are some great office chair posture tips:

  • Sit at least 18 inches (arm’s length) away from the screen.
  • To keep your neck in a neutral position, the monitor must be placed directly in front of you and a few inches above eye level.
  • Sit up straight with your hips back in the chair.
  • The chair’s back should be reclined at an angle between 95 and 115 degrees.
  • Adjust your chair height so that your feet are flat on the floor while your knees remain in line (or a little lower) with your hips.
  • Make sure that the keyboard is in front of you without reaching out.
  • Unwind your shoulders and make a conscious effort to stop them from moving up or rounding forward.

Best practices to improve your sitting posture: What is the proper way to sit in an office chair?

It’s all very well reading about it, but how can you put things into practice?

If you’re wondering how to maintain the optimal posture at your desk, try these:

Install your screen at eye level

From your seated position, move the screen to a place straight in front of you and an arm’s length away.

Next, change the monitor height. It should be no more than 2.5 inches above eye level.

Too low or high, and you’ll strain your neck and your eyesight.

Get creative by stacking some books if you need the monitor to go higher or, otherwise, buy a specifically-designed desk stand.

A free-standing monitor stand gives greater versatility, and the arms allow you to change both screen height and tilt.

Change the settings on your chair

Move your seat up or down until your legs are parallel with the ground and your knees are at hip level.

Your arms should be parallel to the floor, too. If your feet are still dangling, use a stool or footrest (more about that later).

Plant your elbows by your side, and extend your arms into an L-shape.

When extended too far, it adds tension to the muscles in your arms and shoulders.

Check your keyboard position: What is the proper way to sit in an office chair?

Your keyboard must be aligned with your monitor.

Allow a gap of 3 to 7 inches between the edge of your keyboard and the desk, so your wrists aren’t suspended while typing.

If your keyboard is too high, and you need to tilt your wrists to type, then look for a padded wrist rest.

They can put your hands on the same level as your keyboard, thus avoiding muscle fatigue and pain.

Keep your feet flat on the floor

Make sure your body weight is dispersed equally across your hips and bend your knees at a right angle.

Do this to ensure that your knees are either even with your hips or a little lower and your feet flat on the floor.

If you can’t quite manage that, a footrest will help you find the right angle and height that works best for your natural posture.

Do not sit with your legs crossed as this can impair blood flow and cause muscle stress.

Try out some exercises to improve your posture

In addition to taking short breaks at work, you’ll want to look into a few workouts to try out of office hours to enhance your posture:

  • Basic yoga works miracles! By encouraging correct positioning through stretching and strengthening back, neck and hips muscles, yoga eliminates the tension that invariably comes with long hours of sitting.
  • How long should you sit in an office chair? Not too long for sure! Something as simple as a 30-minute power walk can combat the unfavorable effects of prolonged sitting and strengthen the muscles needed for good posture.
  • Put a foam roller under your back (or wherever you feel tension or tightness), and roll from side to side.

This is basically a massage for your back, and will help you sit up straighter at your desk with far less discomfort.

Keep frequently utilized items within close reach

What are the things that you reach out for the most?

A Stapler, phone, a glass or a bottle of water, or a notepad?

They should be put in close proximity so you don’t have to reach too far. Repeated twists and stretches might cause joint pain.

If you spend a lot of time on the phone, utilize a handset

If the phone is a regular part of your daily equipment, then use a speakerphone, especially if you’re using it while typing or writing.

And if that’s not an option, then you can find headsets at excellent prices.

By bending your neck to cradle the phone, you’re not being efficient.

All you’re asking for are stiff muscles, pain, and even gradual ligament damage.

Purchase an ergonomic office chair: What is the proper way to sit in an office chair?

The right office chair will help you maintain a correct posture and should be comfortable, adjustable, and with a good lifespan.

You really should look for the following features in your next office chair:

  • Headrest that provides support to your neck and head,
  • Ability to change the seat and armrest height and the back reclining angle,
  • A backrest that supports your back by adhering to the natural curve of your spine,
  • Comfortable lumbar and seat cushioning,
  • TIP: Read our Best office chairs with 300 lb weight limit buying guide and discover several heavy-duty office chair models which are perfect for plus-size users!

Pay attention to the mouse you use

The mouse should be on the same level as your keyboard and within easy reach.

Reaching out for anything, including your keyboard, could trigger muscle strain and fatigue.

While you’re using your mouse, your wrist should be straight, your upper arm by your side, and your hands slightly below your elbows.

An ergonomic mouse will avoid wrist pressure and fit your hand’s natural shape.

Final tip: Stand up regularly for short breaks

To prevent muscle fatigue and impaired blood circulation, take regular breaks.

Stand up from your desk and move about.

Get your blood cells dancing by doing some calf raises and shoulder shrugs. You can make a couple of lunges or squats if you have the space!

Research suggests that numerous short breaks such as making coffee or going to the restroom are better than a couple of longer ones.

Ideally, you should take a break every 30 to 40 minutes, or failing that, aim for a few minutes every hour.

Finished your day? Fit in a daily walk of at least 30 minutes and you’ll find it unwinds you both physically and mentally.

What is the proper way to sit in an office chair? Conclusion

Put your mind to it. Make the conscious choice of buying an ergonomically designed office chair that encourages correct body posture.

Less discomfort makes for a happy worker, better work, and a happy Boss!

About Megan Smith

Megan has been fighting overweight and her plus size since her teenage years. After trying all types of remedies without success, she started doing her own research. Megan founded Plus Size Zeal to share her findings. She also developed various detailed buying guides for plus-size people in order to make their lives easier and more comfortable. Read More