Ergonomic sitting and working

The more you move, the better for your back and neck. But what if you have to sit all day, for work, for example? Then just take these good sitting tips into account!


Studying, reading, eating, driving, watching TV… We do it while sitting. And then we haven’t even mentioned the fact that so many people do sedentary work. It could well be that a large part of all those modern neck and back complaints are due to sitting a lot. Many companies, employers, physiotherapists and of course manufacturers are gradually becoming aware of the enormous (back) problems that sedentary work can cause. And so they started looking for so-called ergonomic solutions. Ergonomics is the term used to indicate the right balance between the nature of man and the nature of his work. Ergonomic sitting is in!

What’s wrong with just sitting?

Our bodies are absolutely not designed to sit for long periods of time. It has an enormous need for variation and movement. Sitting still for hours amounts to a constant, monotonous overload of our entire body. Children sense this intuitively. That’s why they’re constantly wiggling and rocking in their chairs and changing positions as often as possible. And we keep whining that they should finally sit still. To understand what exactly is wrong with our sedentary bodies, we must first understand what standing is exactly.
When we stand upright, our pelvis is tilted slightly forward, creating a hollow at the level of our low back and a bulge at the level of our torso. In this way, all our vertebrae and intervertebral discs are loaded evenly. But when we sit down on a regular chair with a horizontal surface, our back muscles quickly find it so difficult to keep our upper body upright that they want to relax as quickly as possible. The pelvis tilts backwards, the hollow in the lumbar region disappears and we sit with a rounded back… This immediately results in enormous pressure on the intervertebral discs. Sometimes the core of an intervertebral disc is pressed towards the spinal cord in such a way that a nerve can become pinched. The neck and shoulders also have a hard time and breathing and digestion become more difficult.

Tips for sitting and working properly

  • When designing your workplace, take your own body shape into account, because no two bodies are the same!
  • The ideal chair ensures that your back can maintain its natural curves during work.
  • It’s a shame that today’s school desks no longer have a sloping writing surface. After all, it is much healthier if the work surface tilts towards you instead of you having to bend towards the work surface. Because here too your neck and shoulders are overloaded!
  • Computer work is different from writing work. The computer is best placed on a slightly lower work table, because the keyboard is usually about four cm high. Slide the keyboard about four inches onto the work surface so that your wrists can rest in front of the keyboard. The screen should be positioned so that you do not tire your neck and shoulders when looking at it. The distance between your eyes and the screen is 30 to 70 cm. The screen is preferably positioned perpendicular to the viewing direction.
  • The worksheet must be adapted to the work you do, but also to your sitting body. So not too low, because then you will collapse anyway. But not too high, because then your neck and shoulders will be put under too much strain. Ideal height of the worktop: 2 to 3 cm above the elbow (measured with relaxed shoulders and hanging arm).
  • A document holder that you can place in front of you, just below the screen, is a must when typing texts. Constantly looking to the side is very bad, because of the constant twisting and bending movements with your eyes and neck.
  • Your feet should never dangle! If you are small and the height of the chairs and tables cannot be adjusted, then you will really benefit from a footrest.
  • And finally: our bodies are really not made for sitting. So two minutes of exercise every twenty minutes!


Ergonomic chairs

An ergonomic chair adapts to the work performed by the user. Dynamic sitting is determined by the characteristics of the person in question such as height and width. The ergonomic chair ensures that one-sided overload of the back is avoided. Changing your sitting position also prevents back problems and fatigue.
An office chair , for example, must comply with the European standard NEN1335. The NPR 1813 standard goes a little further and provides even greater adjustability of the chair for better support. This takes into account:

  • the movement mechanism,
  • the cross of the feet,
  • the wheels,
  • the seat height,
  • the seat depth,
  • the armrests,
  • the backrest and pelvic support
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