How to sit in front of computer: Computing ergonomics

Some people spend more than 6-10 hours a day in front of computers. They are so absorbed in their activities that they do not pay attention to their postures. Some might be bending heavily to look at the screen or keyboard while others may be typing hard with their wrists being suspended in the air all the while. Incorrect postures lead to health problems such as back pain, shoulder, and wrist pain, burning feet, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and vision loss – especially if you are over 40. In this article, we discuss the correct posture to sit in front of the computer.

How to sit in front of computer

How to sit in front of computer

Back Rest is must

The study of how the body of an individual behaves during different tasks, the impact of such body behavior, and research of providing optimal conditions to avoid harm is known as ergonomics. Workplace Ergonomics is generally the optimization of the workplace so that the bodily harm is reduced. This is achieved by providing proper lighting, ventilation and by providing stuff that places less stress on the body. In case of computers, it is the chair, desk, computer keyboard, and mouse, etc.

The most common problem among people working for a long time on computers is the lower back pain. This generates over time and is hard to treat, making people dependent on painkillers, etc.

To avoid this, use a chair that is adjustable. The slant of the back of the chair should be around 100 to 110 percent. 90 percent is too straight and won’t be of any comfort. More than 125 percent will place stress on other parts of body – neck, and eyes especially. 100 to 110 percent is ideal to keep the back problems away – provided you rest your entire back on the chair back.

If the chair is not designed to provide support to upper and lower back, use small pillows to support the upper back towards shoulders and the lower back. Keep the back rested as long as possible. If you have to lean forward for some reason, make sure you take breaks and keep on resting your back at regular intervals.

Arm-rest and Shoulders

If the chair has an arm-rest, use it so that the pressure on shoulders is reduced. On chairs without arm-rest, the entire pressure is placed on shoulders. If you cannot buy a chair with arm-rest, you can place your elbows on legs after crossing them. But this workaround of crossing legs and placing elbows on the legs can also be dangerous in the long run. It is okay for short periods. Remember that if you keep the legs crossed (like resting one foot on the knee of another leg), blood flow to the legs will be affected.

To avoid problems with legs and to care for your shoulders, use a chair with arm rests. If the arm rests are adjustable, it is even better because one size does not fit all. If you don’t have a chair with arm rest, try to buy one as soon as possible. You won’t want to live with shoulder pain all your life.

Wrist Rest is important

When talking about correct posture to sit in front of a computer, it is important to note the position of wrists. The basic thing is to provide a rest to the wrists. Many of us keep on typing with wrists in the air. This practice places too much stress on wrists and if continued for longer periods, will cause permanent wrist pain.

If yours is a laptop, it comes with wrist rest on either side of the touchpad. If you are using regular keyboards, there are many keyboards that are based on ergonomics. Microsoft researched to create keyboards that sense stress level of users. Based on the research, Microsoft and many companies such as Logitech, Amkette and others came up with detachable keyboards that can be adjusted to provide rest to wrists while reducing the stress on fingers when typing.

If you don’t have an ergonomic keyboard and you don’t plan to buy one immediately, remember to take breaks when typing for longer hours. Every fifteen minutes, rest your wrists placing the hands-on legs or somewhere comfortable for a minute or two.

Read: Exercises for computer users – Nerd Fitness

Legs should get rest

The upper part of your legs (above knees) should be completely rested on chairs. If that part of legs is raised because the chair is smaller, you are risking knee pain. In the same way, make sure the chair is of enough height that your feet can properly touch the ground. The feet should be placed perpendicular to the ground.

The above can be achieved using an adjustable chair. If you are unable to buy one immediately, you can use pillows or something to increase the height and keep the legs rested. In addition, keep on changing the position of legs from time to time if you are sitting for long. For example, placing one foot over the heel of the other leg or putting one leg over the other for a while can help prevent longer exposure to discomforts that can result in permanent damage to your body.

Neck and Eyes

To prevent illness like Glaucoma and Schilosis, you should be looking down at the screen. Do not be seated in a position where you have to pull your neck up and strain the muscles. Do not use a position that makes you look above the straight line of vision (a straight line would mean using eyes in the front without raising them).

In addition to the above, it is recommended that you move away from the computer at regular intervals. While on a computer, people forget to blink – which increases the stress on the retina. This should never be taken lightly as it can cause blindness. There are third-party programs available that remind you to take a break from staring at the screen like Pause4Relax or Eye Relax.

In short, when we talk about correct posture to sit in front of the computer, we are talking about ergonomics: the practice of avoiding discomfort to any part of your body. Your back, legs, neck, and feet should be properly rested. Your eyes should keep on blinking and look either straight or a bit lower at the screen. Taking forced breaks from computing is always a good idea!

Read next: Health problems caused by Smartphones overuse.

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Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN


  1. MmeMoxie

    Arun — Excellent article. We all need to be reminded and taught how to sit at a computer. It is so easy to slip into bad habits. One other thing, try to remember to take several breaks during your computer session, by getting up out of your chair and walking around, for a little while. This action takes care of your eyes and whole body. I would say a 10 minute break every 2 to 3 hours. You will probably feel refreshed and should you be struggling with a problem, more frequently than not, be able to come back and start finding the solution. Anand Khanse’s article is a good read, too. 🙂

  2. Thank you. You are right. Breaks help in bringing back energy too. I myself take a break every 90 minutes or so.

  3. Venkatachari M

    Very useful article with great tips on avoiding back pain, neck pain or shoulder pain, etc. while sitting in front of your computer. The main stress is given on properly resting your back, arms and legs while sitting at computer. One should take full care to comfortably rest your back a bit slantly with support of the back seat, place your upper legs rested on seat comfortably and properly rest your arms and wrist on some support. Keep your eyes downwards towards screen and try to blink them often instead of staring continuously. Many more good facts and tips are given here for your maximum comfort. Great article indeed.

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