‘Normal’ posture is developed during childhood. Young children generally have good postural habits.
A number of factors affect posture - the need to keep the eyes level and relative muscle balance around the pelvis and shoulder girdle areas.
When viewed from the side the ideal posture has the ears directly over the shoulder and hip. A straight line drawn between these three points should pass through the knee and reach the ground just in front of the ankles.
When viewed from the back or front the body should be largely symmetrical but not necessarily perfectly so. The spine viewed from the back is normally straight but will vary slightly over time with activity and dynamic use. The arms should hang equally and freely on either side
The curves of the spine should not be excessive but may become so with poor habits.
Sitting posture is determined by the position of the pelvis, specifically if it is tilted back or forwards. Neutral tilt is considered the best position for for good posture (See below).
There are a number of factors which determine this position including seat height, seat depth, seat angle muscle tightness and weakness etc.
At the other end of the spine the head position, eye level, and the objects being looked at impact on the seated posture.
If the pelvis rolls backwards the spine must become flexed, which is a stressful position for the tissues, and should be avoided for very prolonged periods.
Examples of poor posture while using a portable device are shown here
Mobile digital devices, such as laptops, phones and tablets, are increasingly in regular use and often over prolonged periods of time.
Their use may be a risk to health, and this risk should be minimised if possible. Many of the same principles apply to the use of portable devices as does to using a desktop computer.
All mobile devices are designed to be used in a wide variety of situations and environments. There are a number of things you can do to use them safely and effectively.
There are no universally agreed defined ‘safe’ time limits for using portable computer devices. Where extended use is undertaken, a suitable desk and chair setup should be provided.
A good alignment of the head, neck and spine during use is key to preventing injury and maintaining good posture, with a particular focus on the alignment of the:
Use a comfortable position / posture - awkward postures should be avoided. Sustained or Extended use while adopting an awkward postures is highly risky and is not recommended. An awkward posture may include
It is generally recommended that rest breaks are taken for at least 5 minutes for every 30 minutes of continuous use
Regular breaks should be combined with some physical stretches and / or exercises. Eye exercises and visual rest will assist in preventing eye strain (e.g. look at an alternative object several metres away for up to 20 seconds).
Maintain a comfortable viewing distance from the screen – approximately 45-70 cm.
Tilt the screen so that it is at a right angle (90’) to the user’s line of sight. Normal line of sight, when the head is upright, is 10’ – 15’ below the horizontal but can go down as far as 30’. Thus the device screen should be held at 105’-100’ to the horizontal but no flatter than 120’ to the horizontal.
Position device so that reflections and glare do not cause a visual disturbance.
Safe Usage Guidelines
These two documents give some guidance on age appropriate seating and the importance of chair + desk heights that are appropriate for growing children and youths.
Ergonomic Health + Safety Seating for Growing Child
Work posture may be either static or dynamic, or a mixture of both - one part of the body does the work while other areas hold a static position.
It is best if both the desk and chair are adjustable in height. If so adjust the chair first and then the desk to the appropriate height for the seated worker.
The more common situation is where the desk height is fixed and ergonomic principles are applied to the workstation in order to make it as safe and effective as possible.
The minimum requirements to maintain good posture are
The following shows some poor posture
Sitting / office Workstations
When standing work is it is important to keep the spine straight alignment wherever possible. Where bending is required it should be kept to a minimum and should not be held for long periods.
Key factors to be considered will include what the hands need to do, where the feet need to be placed,, what surface is being stood on and how stable it is, the head position and eye level / sight lines.
The task itself will also determine the correct height at which the workstation is set as precision work requires greater support for the upper limbs - a higher level - while heavy work needs the body weight to be used during the task - needs a lower level. The following give some indication of what is needed.
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