Getting Your Workstation Office Seat Set Up Correctly

How many people fully understand their office chair, its features and how to drive it i.e. set it up to suit their needs and ensure they are in a comfortable sitting working posture?  I would say 10% at most.  This is purely my opinion.  However having now completed > 5000 ergonomic risk assessments, it is safe to say that this is probably near the mark.

Below are some simple tips to helping you get set up in your seat better.  Please note, these recommendations are based on you working at a fixed height workstation of approximately 68-72cm as per the Australian Standard.  If you are working with a height adjustable desk.  Great, follow these steps except for the height of chair recommendations.

Pre Chair Check

  1. Remove any lumbar supports you have or other crappy add ons.
  2. Does your chair have 5 wheels, is in good working order, doesn’t lose height over the work day, is sturdy i.e. not loose and feeling like you will fall off it, is the material supportive and comfortable?  If you have any issues with these things.  You might need a new chair.

Step 1.  Chair dimensions. Does it suit you?  Is your chair made to accomodate your weight?  Most ergonomic tasks chairs have a weight rating of 110 – 130kg.  Check yours and if you weigh more than your chair can handle.  A new chair is recommended.  Seat depth – you should have 2-4 fingers gap between the front of your chair and back of your calf. Chair width – you should be able to sit comfortably on your chair and not feel any discomfort/pressure on the outside of the thighs or have your legs hanging off the seat.  Backrest height – ideally the majority of your spine is covered.

Step 2.  Adjust the seat pan to flat or with a slight downward slope.  Whatever you feel most comforable with.  Just have the tilt so much so that you are working your abs like you never have before just to stay on the chair.  Note: If you are one of those lucky people with a seat pan slide, you may be able to adjust the depth of this to allow for 2-4 fingers gap.

Step 3.  Adjust the lumbar support height and backrest tilt. You will need to tweak both of these.  Depending on your preference, adjust the back rest angle between 90-120 degrees.  90 degrees requires a fair amount of work to maintain this upright posture and you must be constantly engaged, perhaps ok for those people who rarely sit or get up and down regularly.  For the average joe blow, I would say 100-120 degrees will be more comforable.  Tweak the height of the backrest so the lumbar spine is supported.  Then tweak both features to suit your needs.

Step 4.  Adjust the height of the chair so that when your arms in the typing position, your elbow is approximately 0-5cm above the desk height.  Again, go for comfort.

Step 5. Check your arm rests.  If you can get in close enough to the desk without reaching for the keyboard and mouse and keeping your back supported by the chair, great.  If not, look at adjusting your arm rests or removing them.

Step 6.  If you get to this point and havent fallen off your chair and are feeling rather comfortable.  Check your feet. If they cannot touch the ground comfortably (not just toes, but the whole foot), you will need a footrest.

Step 7.  Test this out, trial it and make changes as required. If you work in one of those modern day hot desk or flexi desk companies, then you will get bloody good at this as you should be going through these steps each day.

If you are still struggling, then you may need an ergonomic assessment and some help from your health professional.  This is where they can then provide advice on whether a new chair is required, a new desk or a lumbar support.

This blog post was written by Melbourne osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy. Principle Four Osteopathy is one of Melbourne City CBD leading Melbourne Osteopathy clinics. At the clinic we treat a wide range of clients, ranging from the office worker, exercise enthusiast to athlete. We have 3 experienced Melbourne osteopaths working across both of the clinics. The Melbourne City CBD osteopathy clinic is located at 29 Somerset Place (basement), close to the corner of Elizabeth St and Little Bourke in the Melbourne City CBD. Our premises adjoin the Jon Weller Personal Training Studio, a fully-equipped training space which allows clients to combine their osteopathy treatment with exercise tutorials or specific training programs and rehabilitation. The Melbourne osteopathic Docklands clinic is located at 717 Bourke St (Ground Floor), beneath the Channel 9 building near the walkway from Southern Cross Train Station to Etihad Stadium. Our premises adjoin Pilates on Bourke, a fully-equipped pilates and yoga training space which allows clients to combine their osteopathy treatment with exercise tutorials, pilates or specific training programs and rehabilitation. To speak to your Melbourne Osteopath or book an appointment at Principle Four Osteopathy, please book online or call 03 9670 9290.