The Surprising Sitting Position that Weakens Your Health

It happens when you anxiously await an important email, when your chair is too big or monitor too high, and when everyone is excited. Poor posture happens while sitting at the edge of your chair. This type of posture occurs when your mind is on your work and not on your spine. 

Your health, however, matters most – whether you work leaning back or perched on the edge of your seat. Here's why – for your health's sake, not your work's – you should use your backrest. 

Health Hazards: Sitting at the Edge of Your Chair and Leaning into the Computer Screen

Sitting at the edge of your chair throws the body's posture completely out of alignment, leading to forward head posture, hunched back, rounded shoulders, pointing chin and even an anterior pelvic tilt. This group of posture problems can lead to the following health concerns:

  • Muscle Degeneration - Poor posture strains certain muscle groups while letting others go slack, weakening the abdomen. 
  • Poor Blood Circulation - Sitting improperly puts pressure on the legs, hindering circulation and allowing blood to pool. This can slow cognitive function and cause varicose veins, clots and swelling. 
  • Pain - Poor posture strains muscles, causing tension in the neck, shoulders, back, legs, hips and arms. This can lead to headaches and limit physical function, affecting balance and flexibility. 
  • Strain - Perching forces eyes to look up or down at the screen, leading to strain and headaches. 

A Lean, Mean Sitting Machine

Strengthened core muscles support the spinal column to encourage good posture and health. Working a desk job does not equate poor health; proper posture protects you from health hazards. 

Ergonomic Fix

However strong your core muscles become, an improperly designed workspace prevents you from achieving proper posture. Select furniture that fits your stature. If this is not possible, adjust your existing furniture to suit your needs. Keep the following points in mind when designing your workspace:

  • Back Support - You should be able to sit all the way back in your chair without the seat hitting the back of your knees. This will prevent you from perching on the edge. The backrest should also offer ample support to your lower back to discourage slouching. 
  • Right Angles - When it comes to your arms and legs, think right angles. Feet should rest flat on the floor. (Try a foot stool if they do not reach.) Legs should be parallel with the floor and in line with hips. Rest elbows at your sides and extend arms in comfortable "L" shapes to the desk. 
  • Keyboard and Mouse - These should be directly in front of your computer screen to prevent twisting. The keyboard should be within comfortable reach with four to six inches between it and the edge of your desk to allow space for your wrists to rest.
  • Screen Height - To prevent forward head position or chin poking, your screen should be no more than two inches higher or lower than your line of vision. This will also help prevent computer-related eye strain. 

When diligently working away in this proper seated position, be sure to take plenty of standing breaks. Practicing good seated posture improves your health outlook, but standing up to stretch and move around allows your muscles to pump blood throughout the body, encouraging circulation to the brain. As a result, frequent breaks not only prevent eye strain and help you feel physically healthier, they also help you avoid the notorious mid-afternoon brain fog and work slump, improving your production in both the short and long-term.