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 Healthy Computing: Too High or Too Low 
 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Healthy Computing Tips by . View all columns in series
A good chair at the appropriate height provides a solid foundation from which to work. If our chair is too high we tend to perch, which limits our reach and increases pressure on our thighs. It also reduces movement and circulation in our legs. If the chair is too low, our hip angle becomes narrower and we distribute our weight on a much smaller area of our sit bones. Explore your chair height and feel the consequence when it is TOO HIGH OR TOO LOW.

HOW TO EXPLORE IF YOUR CHAIR IS TOO HIGH OR TOO LOW:*

Sit comfortably on your chair and use the height lever (usually the center or only lever on the right side beneath the chair). Raise the chair so that your feet are hanging down without being able to support the weight of the legs on the floor. After sitting for a moment do the following:

  • Observe the sensations in your thighs. You may notice there is more pressure, which would reduce blood and lymph circulation.
  • Bring your hand up to your shoulder height and reach out forward and to the side as far as you can. Observe how far you can reach. Notice that you may feel unstable as if you are going to fall, which may limit your range of movement.
  • Bend your feet back and place them on the wheel supports. Again, reach forward and to the side. Observe whether you feel more stable although you still cannot reach very far.

Lower the chair too low so that your hips are at the same or slightly lower level than your knees with the angle of your hips less than 90 degrees.

  • Observe the sensations in your thighs. You may notice there is no support for your legs and that all the weight is now carried on a small area by your sit bones. Also, your lower back tends to round.
  • Bring your hand up to your shoulder height and reach out forward and to the side as far as you can. Observe how far you can reach.

Raise the chair so that your feet rest comfortably on the floor while supporting some of the weight of your legs. The angle of your hips should be about 90 degrees and the angle of your knees about 110 degrees.

  • Observe the sensations in your thighs. You may notice there is less pressure, which allows blood and lymph circulation, and that your legs have more movement.
  • Bring your hand up to your shoulder height and reach out forward and to the side as far as you can go. Observe how far you can reach. Generally, you can reach significantly further than when the chair is too high or too low because your feet supply support base.

Keep adjusting the height of the chair until you find the most comfortable height.

Remember, after the height of the chair is adjusted, adjust the height of the keyboard so that you can type with your lower arms parallel to the floor and the top of monitor at the height of your eyebrows.

If the keyboard height is not adjustable and you must raise your chair, use footstools to support your feet. Be sure that they are wide enough so that your legs can move.

*Adapted from a presentation by Ray Grott.

Copyright 2003 Erik Peper, Ph.D. and Katherine Hughes Gibney
Permission to copy and distribute Healthy Computing Email Tips for personal use is granted. Distribution or copying of Healthy Computing Email Tips for commercial purposes is prohibited without prior written consent of the copyright holders

      
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 About The Author
Erik Peper, Ph.D. is an international authority on biofeedback and self-regulation. He is Professor and Co-Director of the Institute for Holistic Healing Studies, Department of Health Education, at San Francisco......moreErik Peper PhD
 
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