ergonomic chair
ergonomic chair

By now you're probably familiar with the age-old advice about proper seating posture for computing in comfort: feet flat on the floor, forearms at a 90-degree angle, head up, back straight. So why is it we're always leaning, craning, bending, or slouching? Mostly, it's the body's natural reaction to being in the same position for long periods of time. The solution: a good chair and regular stretch breaks.

A good chair can be costly, but if you're lucky, you may be able to find one for less than $200 at your local office-supply store. Just make sure all its critical parts are adjustable. You should be able to raise and lower the seat, tilt it, and slide it forward and back. If the chair has armrests, you should be able to raise and lower them, or push them out of the way so that you're not resting your forearms on them as you type. The back should adjust up and down and tilt forward at the bottom for lumbar support. If you can't find these adjustments in an under-$200 chair, models such as the $500 Mirra from Herman Millerand the $799 Freedom fromHumanscale are worthy, albeit expensive, alternatives.

Once you pick a seat, adjust it so that your feet are flat on the floor. If you have short legs or a high workstation, try getting a footrest such as the Fellowes Adjustable Footrest. Make sure you have two to four fingers' worth of space between your calves and the front edge of the seat, and that the lumbar support is snug against your lower back. Finally, tilt the seat so that it slopes slightly downward.

Tip

To help make regular stretch breaks part of your daily routine, consider installing a program such as Stretch Break. It issues regular reminders and even teaches you some helpful exercises you can do at your desk.