which 100 employees used a sit-stand workstation that resulted in a reduction in sitting time from 91 percent of the working day to 54 percent. “Staff reportedly noted
multiple benefits, including ‘improved health and well-being, greater concentration
or focus, greater productivity, reduced pain and discomfort, and reduced fatigue,’”
the article noted. Further, a Forbes.com article revealed that by simply sitting just
2.25 hours less daily, users can burn an extra 350 calories.
One of the problems with sit-to-stand desking solutions, however, is the availability of chairs that effectively work with the desk’s variable height adjustments. Some
seating manufacturers have attempted to solve the problem by offering extended cylinders in task chairs, which fall flat because ergonomics are lost in translation. Perch
chairs are also commonly paired with adjustable-height desks, but these are often
uncomfortable for both sitting and standing.
The best approach is simple. When standing, stand up. Don’t perch. When sitting, choose an ergonomic chair correctly adjusted for the sitting position. Proper
use of seating products that encourage a range of postures and offer good ergonomics, when balanced with time spent free standing, is an effective approach to
achieving wellness in the workplace.
We’ve all heard about the importance of practicing proper ergonomics in the office,
but truth be told, most people adjust their task chairs once and then forget about
it. The problem is, if the chair has been adjusted improperly, the negative effects on
the occupant well-being are many.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration10, the following is a
list of potential hazards associated with an improperly adjusted chair:
◗ Back rest. Poor back support and inappropriate postures may result from
inadequate backrest size, material, positioning, or use. Working in these
postures may lead to back pain and fatigue. For example, a chair without a
suitable or adjustable backrest will not provide adequate lumbar support or
help maintain the natural S-shape curvature of the spine.
◗ Seat. Using a chair with a seat that is too high may force occupants to work
with their feet unsupported or encourage them to move forward in the chair to
a point where the back is unsupported making it more difficult to maintain the
S-shape of the spine. These awkward postures can lead to fatigue, restricted
circulation, swelling, numbness, and pain.
◗ Armrest. Armrests that are not adjustable, or those that have not been
properly adjusted, may expose workers to awkward postures or fail to
provide adequate support. For example, armrests that are:
too low may cause users to lean over to the side to rest one fore arm.
This can result in uneven and awkward postures, stressing the neck,
shoulders, and back.
too high may cause occupants to maintain raised shoulders, which
can result in muscle tension and fatigue in the neck and shoulders.
too wide causes reaching with the elbow and bending forward for
support. Reaching pulls the arm from the body and can result in
muscle fatigue in the shoulders and neck.
too close can restrict movement in and out of the chair.
too large or inappropriately placed may interfere with the positioning
of the chair. If the chair cannot be placed close enough to the
keyboard, users may need to reach and lean forward in their chair.
This can fatigue and strain the lower back, arm, and shoulder.
Armrests that are made of hard materials or that have sharp corners
can irritate the nerves and blood vessels located in the forearm. This
irritation can create pain or tingling in the fingers, hand, and arm.
◗ Base. Task chairs with four or fewer legs may provide inadequate
support and are prone to tipping. Inappropriate choice of casters, or a
chair without casters, can make positioning the chair in relation to the
desk difficult. This increases reaching and bending to access computer
components, which can lead to muscle strain and fatigue.
In order to effectively combat the effects of poor ergonomics as a result of an
improperly adjusted chair, the following are five essential corrections every chair
user should make today:
1. Chair height – Legs should be at approximately a 90 degree angle
with both feet firmly on the ground. If only the balls of the feet are touching
the floor, the chair is too high.
2. Armrest height – The armrest height should be adjusted so elbows
feel supported and forearms are on a horizontal plane to the work surface.
This helps with blood circulation when typing.
3. Chair back angle – The chair back needs to be at about a 15-degree
angle so the head is directly above or slightly rearward of the shoulders in
a side view. This will help keep the spine aligned and avoid the tendency to
4. Arm width adjustment – Should be in a relaxed width. If it is too
narrow, the user will feel scrunched. Too wide, and they will begin using their
shoulder muscles causing fatigue.
5. Seat depth adjustment – Place the rear-end all the way back in the
seat with the spine fully rested across the seat back. Then adjust the seat
depth so the seat stops 1-2” before it touches the back of the calf.
When it comes to staying comfortable in an office chair—especially if you must