Guidelines for Good Posture at a Computer Desk

Updated on October 2, 2012

Bad office chairs causes lower back pain especially when used at a computer work station or desk. Finding the best office chair is not an easy task since there are so many to choose from. Bad office chairs help promote bad posture which can lead to chronic lower back pain and neck problems. This guide will highlight bad postures when working or socializing at a computer, what our proper posture should be and also help choose the right chair to lower back pain while sitting and show you the proper sitting posture to avoid back pain.

For those of us who spend countless hours at a desk or computer workstation, lower back pain is a constant foe. I spent several years as a computer programming consultant sitting on a wide variety of chairs that cause mild to severe lower back pain until I discovered good sitting posture to avoid lower pain even if the chair wasn’t always the best. Now I have a great chair that has eliminated lower pain completely.

However a poor chair is only one part of this story. With the popularity of laptops, we have had a tendency to move away from working at a desk to using a computer (laptop) while sitting on a couch, lying in bed or while on a bus or commuter train.

Bad sitting posture
Bad sitting posture | Source

Injuries from Bad Posture

Many of us who work at a desk, or computer desks (workstations), or worst, who work at the kitchen table or dining room table, while sitting on a couch or lying down in bed do so with poor posture. Meaning that we either slouch over our computer with our back curved and our head tilted forward, thus putting pressure on the spine and neck. Over time, we will develop sore lower backs and stiff necks that are prone to muscle spasms.

Another source injuries from bad posture is working on a laptop or tablet while lying down in bed. This type of position can result in us suffering from chronic neck pain and muscle spasms. Long term practice of these bad postures and practices can lead to chronic back and neck problems.

Good Sitting Posture 1
Good Sitting Posture 1 | Source
Good Sitting Posture 2
Good Sitting Posture 2 | Source

What is Good Posture

For best posture, you first need to be sitting at a desk and not slouched on a couch or laying down in bed to have good posture while working at a computer. Until you are actually using a chair to work at a computer, you will continue to have back, neck and shoulder problems. If you don’t have them now, you will as time passes.

So what is good posture? To have good posture your computer screen must be at your eye level so that you don’t need to look down or up at the monitor. Your back should be straight and your feet must be on the floor or slightly raised using a footstool. Your forearms must either be resting on the desk, meaning that your chair’s seat must be high enough to allow your forearms to rest on the desk or they should rest on the chair’s armrest.

Good chairs

Flash Furniture Mid-Back Black Mesh Swivel Task Office Chair with T-Arms
Flash Furniture Mid-Back Black Mesh Swivel Task Office Chair with T-Arms

I use one like this at work and at home and they are fantastic. The mesh back provides breath-ability and air flow while supported your back. The padded seat features a semi-soft cushion that properly supports your hips and lower back. You don't have to spend a lot of money


Key to Good Posture: The Chair

The key to proper good lower back support, besides good posture, is the proper chair. There are many types of chairs on the market. Some like the executive style chair feature a thick cushion seat and an equally cushioned back rest. While this might seem like a great chair, in hindsight that design offers very little support and can actually cause you problems over the long run since there is little support for your hips and as a result your lower back muscles have to force to maintain its posture and over time can cause muscle spasms and trauma. Other types of chairs offer high armrests that totally encase you in the chair with a high back. This design will make you lower back sweat and stiffer breathability and can cause cramping in your lower back. Other designs have these headrest that push your head forward and cause stiffness in your neck muscles.

There are a few features that I have found in an office chair that really make a difference. First you need to look for a chair that offers adjustable seat height so that you can adjust the seat so that your feet touch the floor. The ideal chair should also controls to adjust the back forwards or backwards since some of us have shorter legs and need to bring the back forward to support our lower backs. The backrest should be made of some type of solid mesh, to allow for good circulation of air around your back and hips.

The seat should be made of a firm cushion to make sure your hips are properly supported to remove any strain on the lower back muscles. Also make sure that the chair has adjustable armrests in case you need to raise or lower them to line up with desk where your computer is located.

I have provided a couple of suggestions for chairs that I currently use at the office and at home. They all offer the similar features and adjustment controls. They come with different price points.

Bear in mind to always have your computer screen at eye level and if you are using a laptop, you can purchase a stand so that the laptop is at eye level. Of course you will need a keyboard.

Take care of your back. There is nothing more annoying and painful and tiring as a sore lower back.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


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    • klanguedoc profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin Languedoc 

      6 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for the great feedback. Indeed there can be any causes to back problems and yes I zoned in a chair as this was one aspect that was affecting me and how I fixed it by getting a better chair with a breathable mesh instead of a lot of cushions. Of course changing a chair or posture can address every back issue and I wasn't trying to mislead anybody.

    • Etherealenigma profile image

      Sandra M Urquhart 

      6 years ago from Fort Lauderdale


      Your article was good, but it was missing one thing. It seems to me that you were promoting a certain type of chair to correct postural problems, and that's great. However, I think you missed the fact that for many people, the posture problems are the result of the type of technology they are using. I am a massage therapist ( and I see these body issues and pain problems constantly, because I am a muscle/pain release specialist.

      For those using a standard desktop, your article works. However, for someone on a laptop, and for people who frequently use tablets...this advice does not apply because of the placement of those items, or of certain parts of those items. What I mean is, the images that showed proper posture in your article, showed, what looked like laptops that were raised for eye level viewing, to avoid improper neck and shoulder positions. At the same time, you focused on the chairs for proper structural alignment and support of the low back.

      The images only work for desktops, which perhaps you should have stated. Most laptops, unfortunately, do not accommodate postural corrections, nor are they ergonomically structured to address body position, posture or structural correctness. And if anything, tablets encourage even worse body posture. I know they have a new laptop which allows for the separation of the keyboard from the screen, and that is a step forward in ergonomics for the body, but that system is too far up on the pricing scale currently for many people.

      So until they become more affordable, people on these systems, myself included, have to be really conscious of the posture issue, making sure to get up and move every 20 minutes. The reason this is necessary, even for people on desktops, is because collagen is coming into the muscles constantly, and ever 20 minutes, it will harden if the body has not moved...if it is stationary. This means then, that every 20 minutes, your muscles will stiffen more and more with that hardening action; which is why after sitting still for so long, we are often very stiff and have difficulty moving. So people need to at least stand up every 20 minutes, and either shake their body, or stretch, which is enough movement to stop the hardening process of the collagen.

    • klanguedoc profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin Languedoc 

      6 years ago from Canada

      I feel your pain literally :)

    • Validateinfo profile image


      6 years ago from Bangalore-India

      really it is good one....since I have suffered a lot due to back pain...thanks for the post

    • klanguedoc profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin Languedoc 

      6 years ago from Canada

      Good suggestion keirnanholland

    • keirnanholland profile image

      pulled name 

      6 years ago from nowhere

      Also stop cracking your neck and trying to pop joints, I read that this is actually hurting you more than helping.. It offers a temporary relief but it can lead to injury.

    • klanguedoc profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin Languedoc 

      7 years ago from Canada

      You're welcome. Thanks for the feedback.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I also suggest the given postures for long time sit on desk top computers, as well as we should also use these posture for our laptop. Thanks for good posture suggestions........ I like it

    • klanguedoc profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin Languedoc 

      7 years ago from Canada

      BlissfulWriter, I know that standing desk are a bit of a fad right now and the manufacturers all claim huge health benefits. Here is my take. If you stand for several hours you will still develop back pain because your body will be putting your body weight on your back and legs, not to mention your feet. This is not like your standing up and moving. After a while working standing up, you're legs still start to get tired, so to accommodate your legs, you will probably start leaning against the desk and the whole posture problem will start over again. Go and ask someone who must work standing up all day long, I bet they will say that they back and legs and feet will be very tired at the end of the day. I think that standing desks are a great idea but you need some kind of "standing chair" a bit like a high stool so that you can lean against the stool and take the strain off your lower body.

      Cliff Mendrez, I strongly encourage you to try an argo chair and good sitting postures. Also do some stretching from time to time. It made all the difference for me.

    • Cliff Mendrez profile image

      Cliff Mendrez 

      7 years ago from Philippines

      Congrats on Hub of the Day! This is a very useful hub! I have suffered from back pain for some time now and I haven't made anything about it. Maybe it's time to pick up your suggestions and buy an ergonomic chair.

    • BlissfulWriter profile image


      7 years ago

      What are your thoughts on standing desks?

    • klanguedoc profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin Languedoc 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Thanks ComfortB, Your Cousins and jpcmc. I feel and act pretty much the same as you. I struggled with a weak lower back all my life and I damaged my neck by reading in bed for many years as a teen, so when I become a programmer and later a writer these two conditions were a constant foe. Luckily I have learnt good habits (like most I don't always follow them - I do at times work while sitting on a couch) which I live by about 98% of the time. It does make a difference. We don't feel the effects of bad posture when we are young, but our bodies are accumulating those bad habits and "Murphy" will always show his ugly head sooner or later.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 

      7 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      I must admit that there are many instances where I slouch and put a strain on my neck and back. But I try to correct my posture especially when I spend hours in front of the computer. Vote UP!

    • Your Cousins profile image

      Your Cousins 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I'm not able to upgrade my chair right now, so I propped my monitor on top of a phone book (remember those?) and it seems to work ergonomically. Useful HOTD!

    • ComfortB profile image

      Comfort Babatola 

      7 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

      These I learned at secretarial college, and it came handy when I transitioned into Computer Applications/Programming. Spending countless hours in front of the computer can do some damage, not only to the eyes and hands, but also to the back. Good, correct sitting posture is key.

      Love your images. They are original.

      Voted up and useful. And congrats on the HOTD award!

    • klanguedoc profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin Languedoc 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Thanks KDuBarry03, Hui, Annerivendell and RTalloni. I love the feedback. Like all of you I suffered from back lower back problems most of my life. Now I exercise regularly, stretch (very important) maintain a good posture when working at a computer. The chair I have at work and at home have made a big difference.

    • annerivendell profile image


      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Congratulations on Hub of the Day! Well deserved. Interesting and important information. Investment in a good chair is essential, but it's not always easy to know which ones are good. Thanks you for the information.

    • Hui (蕙) profile image

      Hui (蕙) 

      7 years ago

      Really useful hub, close observation and pertinent suggestions showing a serious attitude toward life. Computer is undoubtedly a necessary tool for today's life. Can't imagine what it would be like if computer has been deprived from everyday life over a night! But it does cause trouble, such as health.

      Besides take good care of the sitting posture with the aid of proper chair, physical exercise is very important!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Congrats on your Hub of the Day award for highlighting a topic that is especially important for web writers.

      I continue to find my balance ball chair to be very helpful for a lower back injury and a help in paying attention to my posture. It's too easy to forget and slouch so reminders and good chairs are huge helps.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Congrats on the HOTD, Klanguedoc! This is definitely some good information. My doctor once asked me about how I sat at the desk and when I told him I slouched, he said that was one of the main reasons why I have back issues. Now I strictly follow good posture at the desk sicne I'm on my computer a lot. Thanks for the reminder and more info! Voted and shared!

    • klanguedoc profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin Languedoc 

      7 years ago from Canada

      pstraubie48, thanks. It is my second one this month and it is as rewarding and humbling as the first time. Being recognized by the community is truly special and so unexpected. I didn't think that this hub would spark such positive feedback, but I guess we all have the same bad habits and I am glad that the tips that worked for me have been useful to others like yourself.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      7 years ago from sunny Florida

      These are especially important tips for those of us who already have back injuries that cause back concerns already. Having the laptop at eye level is something I had not thought of as being important but I tried it and I can already feel a difference. Thank you so much for sharing this. And congrats on HOTD.

    • klanguedoc profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin Languedoc 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Thanks MarleneB, simplysmartmuom, Keeley Shea, Ruchira & cfin. I have received so many great comments, it is hard to keep up. It is a nice gift for a Friday. I have a great chair at work and I bought a similar one for at home and it really makes a difference. I even put computer books under my monitor stand at work to make sure I am at proper eye level.

    • cfin profile image


      7 years ago from The World we live in

      Sitting in my office chair on lunch reading your article. Great Idea for a hub. Awesome and shared for everyone to read in the office ;)

    • klanguedoc profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin Languedoc 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Thanks healthylife2 for the great feedback.

    • Ruchira profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      great tips...gotta keep those in mind since, at times get engrossed in writing that forget my posture and see the result of it, later on!

      Congrats on your HOTD :)

    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 

      7 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      I'm at my computer so much more now that I joined HP so found this advice and the pictures helpful. I hadn't even thought about posture but will now to prevent back issues. Congratulations on HOD!!

    • Keeley Shea profile image

      Keeley Shea 

      7 years ago from Norwich, CT

      Great p0ints! Congrats on hub of the day! I am never eye-level with my computer. I sit at a desk all day with a bad chair. I definitely will be fixing this!

    • simplysmartmom profile image


      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Congratulations of the HOTD! This is great information - posture is so important. You may not see the problem today, but down the road these health problems may appear. I'm having issues these days with carpal tunnel (from using the mouse), so I'm trying to be more aware of how I am sitting using the computer - great hub!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      7 years ago from USA

      I have an office chair like the bad version you describe. It is nice to look at and it's OK if I only sit in it for a short period of time. I need to invest in a more ergonomically correct chair because I do suffer from back and neck pain. Thank you for the excellent advice.

      By the way, congratulations on receiving Hub of the Day!

    • klanguedoc profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin Languedoc 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Kaili, I would be honoured.

      justmesuzanne, if it works for you and you don't have back or neck problems, I guess your body can handle it. I know I can't. If I work while sitting on the couch in the evening, I will wake up the next morning with a splitting headache and stiff neck.

      Thanks dghbrh for the nice feedback, we are all notorious for not following our own advice :)

      kelleyward, thanks for the nice compliment. As for the HOTD, I am really surprised, but very happy.

      crystaleyes,you should read Kaili bisson's hub on yoga positions ( I also do stretching.

      Distant Mind:I hear ya! We all know what to do. It is actually doing it that is the hard part.

      Thanks v1p3r and Eiddwen and everyone else for the great feedback.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      So very useful and thanks for sharing.


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      nice information


    • Distant Mind profile image

      Distant Mind 

      7 years ago

      Posture is such an unpleasant topic for me. This is because, I can't even say I'm sitting at the computer. I'm actually lying in be with the laptop in my lap and my back in the form of an arch. I know I'm doing it wrong but I hate sitting at the desk. And in order to make sure my posture is bad even at the desk, I've chosen a chair (an actual armchair) that would allow me to slouch and arch my back in this very unhealthy way.

      I know I need to change, but I never seem to make another step besides knowing what needs to be done.

    • crystaleyes profile image


      7 years ago from Earth

      Very useful indeed.. I have an ache on my left shoulder, due to slouching and typing... so i have bought a treadmill to keep myself active in between work .. and yoga for the shoulders.. now i think i have to invest in a good chair also :-) voted up and thanks.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What a useful hub! I'm notorious for lying down while typing and then suffering from neck pain, despite having a nice chair and desk to sit in. Thanks for the pointers! Congrats on HOTD! Kelley

    • dghbrh profile image


      7 years ago from ...... a place beyond now and beyond here !!!

      Very informative as well as important hub and sure deserves most to be the hub of the day. Congratulations......all votes up for sure.

    • justmesuzanne profile image


      7 years ago from Texas

      I have to be able to move around and change positions. I sit on a papa-san love seat with my monitor and keyboard on a movable wooden platform. I can sit tailor-fashion, with one leg bent and one foot on the floor, reclined with both feet up or with both legs tucked under me. I move around a lot and sometimes have my keyboard on my lap. I used to try to sit at a desk, with an office chair and the kind of posture I learned in typing class, and I was in agony! I know it works well for most people, though, and you've done a great job of describing and explaining it. Voted up and useful! :)

    • Kaili Bisson profile image

      Kaili Bisson 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Excellent Hub Kevin. Do you mind if I mention this Hub in my "Yoga for Shoulders" Hub? Excellent tips here that go hand-in-hand with shoulder exercises for us geeks who spend days with our shoulders rolled forward typing at keyboards.

    • klanguedoc profile imageAUTHOR

      Kevin Languedoc 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Thanks Victoria Lynn. We are guilty of poor posture habits.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      7 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I need to follow your advice, as I sit hunched over my laptop on the coffee table in front of my couch. Bad girl, huh! I love your drawings of the sitting positions. Way to go on this hub!


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