Proper Seating and Sitting Properly

It all begins with the chair. In the past the chair has been expected to provide both sitting and working comfort for employees who work at fixed height surfaces. This height, twenty-nine inches for working desk height and twenty-six inches for typewriters, was determined years ago to suit the physical requirements of the 'average' individual.

The unfortunate result has been the necessity for shorter than average individuals to raise their chair as they try to reach a comfortable working position at a work surface which is too high for them.

Sitting back in the chair would then result in the legs either hanging with feet off the floor, or a least, the individual may experience pressure under the front of the thigh where it presses against the chair at an angle.

As this is a sensitive part of the leg, through which pass many nerve endings and veins, the user is forced to sit forward in the chair to avoid discomfort.

In fact in any large office with fixed height desks, you will see an unacceptable number of shorter individuals, especially female, forced to sit forward on the chair, away from the support of the chair back. For all the benefit the chair back is giving them; they might as well be sitting on stools.

Employees who are taller than average are also affected by the fixed height work surfaces. Though they would more comfortably sit in a higher chair, the work surface would then be too low, causing them to slouch forward. So instead they lower their chairs, only to cause other problems.

When the individual sits back in his lowered chair, his knees will be higher than his behind when his feet are properly flat on the floor, causing all his weight to be on the back of the chair.

Every time this individual sits back in his chair, the chair will tilt. Then every time he wishes to work at his desk, he must sit forward in the chair away from the support for his back.

As with the shorter than average individual, this has to have some effect. Though the degree of back pain, fatigue or aggravated tension experienced will vary, it will cause discomfort. In fact, bachache is the third most widespread illness in our population.

The proper method of adjusting a chair for sitting comfort is to stand facing the chair and adjust it to a height just below the kneecaps.

Then when you sit back in the chair your thighs will be parallel to the floor and your weight evenly distributed across the chair. While there are a regrettable number of chairs still being made with high and prominent arms that prevent the user from sitting properly positioned at his or her desk, the trend is towards chairs with recessed or sloping arms that do not cause this obstruction. Such chairs, of course, are highly recommended.