A large percentage of us spend a significant amount of our day sitting at a desk. So as a physiotherapist based in CBD Hamilton, with plenty of desktime in between clients, I can empathise with one of the most common questions I get – ‘what is the best chair for my office?’

Office ergonomics is a science unto itself and a simple Google search will give you hundreds of diagrams of good office posture – so which ones are right?

When faced with this question, my answer over the years has been standard. However, in the past six months, I’ve modified my answer due to new equipment becoming available for the office space.

One of the first things to remember if you are a desk jockey is that the human body was designed to move. As a simple rule of thumb, you should never be stationary at your desk for more than 45 minutes at a time. Even a perfect posture can become dysfunctional if the body doesn’t move. Staying locked in a posture is simply asking for trouble.

If you work in an office building, take the stairs at least once per day, for lunch make sure you get outside and get some fresh air and stretch/move the body. If possible, try and squeeze in a lunchtime exercise session at least once per week. Movement is the key to wellness.

With regards to sitting posture; if I was stuck behind a desk I would have three options available to me throughout the day and would move between these postures at least every 90 minutes.

Posture #1: Standing desk.
Research shows that sitting for six or more hours a day can makes you up to 50% likelier to die within 15 years than someone who sits for less than three hours. Even if you exercise.
This is the main reason I would be using a standing desk for at least 40 percent of my day. However, it’s important to note that standing all day in a single posture can produce other issues, so the new standing desks that can quickly drop down to allow the user to change to a sitting posture would be my pick.

Posture #2: Swiss ball
If I’m going to sit at my desk, I would use a Swiss ball as my seat. The pelvic position is better, the bouncing allows movement and the instability of the ball forces core muscles around the spine to work at a constant low-grade contraction. This is all good for posture, movement, and comfort.

Posture #3: Saddle stool
Up until a year ago, my third option for office posture was a well-designed office chair. However, in the last 12 months, the saddle stool with a back has become more readily available and has some good research around it. The saddle stool has been used for ages in the dental industry, but only recently some bright spark decided to put a back on it, and in some cases even armrests.
The saddle stool is fantastic for pelvic position, hip position and putting the spine in a relatively neutral position. The back rest is important because the other two postures don’t allow me to really relax. With this posture I can rest the spine against the back of the chair while still holding a safer posture for my back.|

So, if you are an office worker, I hope I see you on the stairs and out and about during lunch. Remember to keep moving, keep well and enjoy life.