What is the best posture at the desk?

What's the neutral body posture?

How to get the right posture at the desk is the most common question of my clients who have a desk job.

So this post has been inspired both by the request of my patients and an article about the Neutral Body Posture ( NBP ) created by NASA ( National Aeronautics and Space Administration ) in the 1980s from measurements of 12 people in the microgravity environment onboard Skylab, today utilized to produce comfortable car seats ( https://spinoff.nasa.gov/Spinoff2013/t_4.html ).

Neutral Body Posture ( NBP ) in the Microgravity

The photo above demonstrated that the body automatically entered into a particular posture with certain angles made by the joints and certain positions assumed by the limbs when crew members were physically relaxed in the microgravity condition of space.

Even if there are different variables like muscle conditions ( hypertrophy  ) or spinal conditions and the presence of full gravity, this could be considered a good position to assume to get less stress for joints, limbs, and muscles.


How to reach the neutral body posture at the desk?

I have experimented that a simple way to reach a similar position to the neutral body posture of the astronauts in microgravity is to using a gym ball.

We can reach the same position of the hip, legs, and spine at the desk by sitting on a gym ball as shown in the photo below.

Neutral Body Posture with Gym Ball at desk

A little support can be added under the heel to reach their right angle.

This particular posture can be reached easily with some Sweden Chair too that can add the chest support.

One aspect that I consider to modify is the head position as it is influenced a lot by the full gravity on the earth.

The NBP assumed in the microgravity, the head is inclined of 24° with respect to the body-centred vertical reference that, as I’ll show you later, increases a lot the head weight.

Since the head’s centre of gravity is located a few centimetres in front of the Atlas ( Head Joint ), the neck muscles (FM) are forced to work isometrically to support the head’s weight.

Neutral body posture


Head’s Forces Distribution

When there is an inclination of the head forward the weight of the head increases because the arm of the mg Force, to which the head is subjected due to the force of gravity, increases.

 head's forces with its inclination


Changes of the head’s forces with its inclination

In this condition of inclination, the neck muscles ( FM ) are forced to work a lot more to support the head.

So when the head is inclined for a long time, you can get easier neck stiffness or neck’s muscles inflammation.

So It’s very important the head position when we are working at desk or looking at our phone.

The photo below shows how the head’s weight changes with its inclination forward when we look at our phone.

Head's Weight with at different inclinations


Head’s Weight with different inclinationsof the neck

The normal weight of the head is around 5 kg that can increase by 5 times with an inclination forward of 60° !!

I strongly advice you do not incline to much the head both at the desktop PC and at the mobile phone.

The simplest way to get the right posture of the head, It is by positioning the screen both of your PC and mobile phone on the line of your sight with 0 degrees inclination of your head.

Anyway even if you get the best posture at the desk, if you stay in that position for a long time, It’s very stressful for your muscle and joints causing lower back pain too

So I strongly advise you get a little rest of a few minutes every hour.

During this little rest, I advise you to walk and do some good stretching exercises for both the lower and upper back.

The 6 tips to reach the best posture at the desk:

  1. 0 Degrees of the head’s inclination.
  2. 125°-130° Degrees of inclination between chest and legs.
  3. 130°-140° Degrees of the knees’ angle.
  4. 120°-130° Degrees of the elbows.
  5. Screens at the sight level.
  6. Little rest every hour of sitting at the desk.

One Comment on “What is the best posture at the desk?

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