4 tips for setting up your desk chair

office-chair80% of people will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. This figure is probably much higher when you take into account our modern day work lives. I don’t know many office and corporate workers who stick to the nine to five workday like we used to. We take fewer breaks, work longer hours and most of this time is spent sitting down at the computer. Then when we do get home, we spend the rest of our time sitting in front of the TV.

So how can we reduce the chances of hurting our backs at work? Setting up your desk chair correctly is a great start.

1. Setting up your seat

When adjusting the height of your chair, think about where your feet land on the floor. You want both of your feet planted on the floor, and if your chair allows it, put a slight tilt forward so that your legs aren’t in a full 90-degree angle. If you can’t tilt your chair forward, try sitting towards the edge of your seat. This will force you to sit on your sit bones in your bottom, which will then minimize the slump in your low back and pelvis.

2. Arm rests

Arm rests are not normally ideal, they tend to be too high and therefore you can’t get your chair under the desk, causing you to sit too far away from your keyboard. However, if you do have arm rests, make sure they are able to slide under your desk. If the arm rests are too high, your elbows will also sit high as you lean on the arm rest and this will cause a shrug in the shoulders leading to extra tension in the neck and shoulders.

3. Space around your desk

Keep your essential desk items, such as the phone, in optimum reach. Optimum reach is the farthest you can reach while sitting in correct posture as stated above. Keeping essential items close by will reduce the need to stretch in awkward positions, minimizing risk of hurting your back.

4. Keep moving!

Try and get out of your chair every 30 minutes, even if it’s just to walk to the photocopier. It’s a good idea to even just take a 5-minute breather every hour to refresh the brain. Any small movement will get the blood flowing, sending fresh oxygen to the brain. You’d be surprised how significant a small break can be!


  1. WorkSafeVic. A guide to health and safety in the office. VIC. WorkSafe; 2001 November 23 [updated 2011 September 6; cited 2015 March 10]. Avail from: http://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/3634/Officewise_web.pdf
  1. Ergonomics Unit. Ergonomic principles and checklists for the selection of office furniture and equipment. Sydney: Worksafe Australia; 1991 [cited 2015 March 10]. Avail from: http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/about/publications/Documents/31/ErgonomicPrinciplesChecklistsForOfficeFurniture_1991_PDF.pdf

This article is for information purposes only. Please consult your Osteopath or primary healthcare professional for further information.

Written by Elise Fuller

Elise Fuller

Dr Elise Fuller graduated from RMIT University with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Complimentary Medicine) and a Masters of Osteopathy. She is currently practicing in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and in her spare time writes articles for her blog, inspired by her experience treating patients and from life in general!