How can I sit in a chair all day without pain?

Vari Home Office
(Image credit: Vari)

The simplest way to reduce the pain of sitting in even the best office chair all day is to vary your position and posture while working. Research has shown that sitting for hours can pose a variety of health concerns, including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, and weight gain. In fact, Dr. James Levine at the Mayo Clinic even coined the term "sitting disease" to describe the long-term effects sitting all day can have on the body. But before you throw your chair in a dumpster, it's important to note that simply standing and moving throughout your day can improve circulation and help alleviate pain.

It's recommended to take frequent breaks during long periods of seated work. Take five or ten minutes to stretch, do simple yoga, or even basic calisthenics if your health situation permits. If you need help remembering when to take a break, you can use a timer or app to prompt you to change your position. Another good way to incorporate standing and movement into your day is to choose specific tasks to do while standing, such as reading and replying to emails or taking video calls. You'll be surprised how much this can help.

Sitting correctly

When you do sit, it's important to do it correctly. The first thing that you want to do is make sure that you're sitting back in the chair with proper support. Proper support when you're sitting reduces the strain on your back. Make sure the seat is at the right height so that your feet are firmly on the floor. Crossing your legs can feel comfortable but can cause hip problems as well as cut off circulation in your legs. It can also cause your back to tilt to one side or the other, placing more strain on one side and often resulting in back pain or stiffness. Then adjust the depth of the seat so that it's not taking up too much or too little thigh support, so that when you're sitting back, you still have space between the front of the chair and the back of your knees. Remember, your body is more unique than any chair on the market. Don't be afraid to add a foot block or lumbar pillow to accommodate your needs.

Adjustable armrests are also important. In a proper sitting position, you should be able to use the keyboard with your wrists and forearms positioned straight. This is vital in the prevention of repetitive strain injuries that can take its toll on your wrists and forearms. Your elbows should rest by the side of your body forming an L-shape at the elbow joint, and armrests should be adjusted to support you in that position.

Another factor in reducing pain is the height and placement of your computer display. Placing your computer screen a little bit lower than eye level reduces strain on your neck and shoulders, which can hunch over and result in bad posture. Keeping your screen at this level also reduces the risk of eye strain, which is a common complaint for workers who sit in front of a computer all day.

It's about letting the design of the chair, desk, and workspace support you because the whole premise is that you want to stay as comfortable, as focused, as efficient, and enjoying your work as much at the end of the day as you do at the beginning.



David Patton
Vice President of Product Design, Vari

With more than 20 years of experience designing products, David has a passion for creating innovative and transformative product solutions. He co-invented and helped create the original VariDesk sit-stand desk, which took the world by storm. Today, he leads Product Design for Vari. His team creates solutions to elevate workspaces and help people lead happier, healthier, and more productive lives.