Correct setting of the office chair

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Optimally adjusted office chair helps to avoid back problems

Nowadays, many employees spend a large part of their working time sitting in front of the PC. The result is often painful tension in the neck, back or shoulder area, according to the latest announcement from the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA).

Appropriate office furniture and the correct setting of the office chair could, according to the BAuA, often avoid the back problems of office workers. But "although office workers sit on the office chair almost all day, many have not set it properly," complained Dr. Lars Adolph from the department for products and work systems at the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Often only a few steps are required to achieve an optimal setting of the office chair.

Prevent muscle and skeletal diseases by optimally setting the office chair
For employees who spend most of the day in their office chair, the correct adjustment of their seating furniture is particularly important to prevent muscle and skeletal disorders, reports the BAuA. A significant improvement can often be achieved in just a few simple steps. However, the optimal sitting position depends on the size and weight of the employees, so that the office chair should be individually adjusted. Some general principles have to be observed. For example, "the feet should always be in contact with the ground", since the stress on the back is particularly high when the legs are hanging in the air, emphasized Dr. Adolph.

Flexible backrest more suitable for the back
As such, the backrest can also be used to provide the back with the necessary relief, the BAuA expert explained. It should be adjusted so that “you can also have contact with the backrest when you are sitting on the office chair,” explained the ergonomist Dr. Adolph. Office chairs with flexible backrests are particularly good for the back, and they also tip back when leaning back. Because according to Dr. Adolph healthy - as long as you don't fall behind. On the other hand, it is particularly bad for the back to remain in one position for hours. According to the experts, "optimal working of the seat and backrest" is "optimal" for some office chairs, whose seat automatically slides forward as soon as the backrest is tilted back. What is important here is the correct adjustment to your own weight, because "it shouldn't take much strength" to "be able to sit back", says Dr. Adolph.

Inclusion at a 90 degree angle
Regarding the posture, the ergonomist explained that the calves and thighs should be at a 90 degree angle to one another when the feet are parked on the floor. If the angle is smaller, the seat is too low, if the angle is larger, it is too high. The upper and lower arm should also be at a 90 degree angle to one another when the hands are placed on the office table. Since the desks in many offices are still not adjustable in height, especially small people have the problem more often that they can either put their legs on the floor, but then sit too low in relation to the table, or their legs dangle in the air and the height of the upper body fits. According to information from the BAuA expert, simple, inexpensive remedies can provide a platform for the feet. "The ideal solution is of course a more suitable table", but in case of doubt a footstool also helps, emphasized Dr. Adolph.

Neck, head and back pain due to incorrect sitting position
According to the BAuA, an incorrect sitting position when working is most noticeable through neck tension, back pain, headache or complaints with the extremities. "Painful restrictions on freedom of movement, aching muscles, aching tendon attachment points and changes in the movement pattern" are, according to the BAuA, typical indications of an incorrect sitting position. According to the BAuA ergonomists, the main risk factors for muscular and skeletal diseases in office workers are "insufficient work equipment and furniture", "poor positioning of the main work equipment" (keyboard and screen), "unfavorable work task with repetitive movement sequences" and "too long daily working hours on the screen with too few breaks and little change of posture. "(fp)

Also read:
Avoid back pain from PC work

Image: Rainer Sturm /

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Video: How to Adjust Your Office Chair Seat Depth Correctly

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