Workplace Ergonomics: In Support of Neutral Posture

Striving for neutral posture

Neutral posture is defined as a position in which the body is aligned and spinal pressure is minimized. There are different versions of neutral posture depending on whether you are sitting, standing or sleeping, but the principals remain the same: maintaining the natural curvature of your spine, keeping the head balanced atop the spine and minimizing the stress applied to spinal joints, muscles and bones. 

Neutral posture is made easier with good ergonomics

Like it or not, posture is going to be a constant struggle for your entire life. The only thing you can do is make the struggle easier for yourself by developing the right muscles and supporting yourself with the right equipment. At the office, this equipment consists of: chair, desk and computer. A properly adjusted configuration of the three makes it easier for your body to remain upright, with the lowest possible amount of pressure applied to the spine. Consider that sitting alone loads the spine with up to three times as much pressure as standing and you begin to understand the stakes involved.

Configuring your workplace

Your chair should support an upright sitting position with the following details: 

  • Feet firmly planted on the floor or on a footrest
  • Legs at 90 degrees or greater
  • 2-4 inches in between edge of the chair and back of your knees 
  • Lumbar curve supported either by the chair or with an auxiliary cushion

The computer and desk should be configured as follows:

  • With shoulders rolled back and relaxed, typing should be performed with forearms supported; arms, wrists and hands should all remain in a straight line.
  • Top of monitor should be at or above eye level
  • Use a document holder to view papers at the same level as the monitor

And one final reminder: don’t forget to move! If you can’t physically take yourself away from the desk, simply take your hands off the keyboard, raise your arms up toward the sky and stretch. This elongation of the spine is better than nothing for breaking the stagnation that accumulates throughout a day at the office. 

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