Herman Miller Ergonomic Chairs and Desks

I’m just on my way to Herman Miller.  We’re going to hook up with David Coates, he’s an ergonomic specialist.  He’s going to give us the lowdown on what to look for to be more comfortable, and ultimately more productive, while you work.

We’d look at a couple of chairs.  This is your classic Herman Miller chair, it’s been in a lot of movies and stuff.  So what you want to look for in a chair, you wanna be comfortable.  It should feel good.  You want to get the height proper; you don’t want to be sitting lower than knee height.  You don’t want the seat pan to encroach upon the back of your legs.  Some chairs actually have an adjustable seat pan.  You don’t want any contact stress on the front edge of the chair, so having a waterfall, or padded edge, there is important.

Once you’re feeling comfortable on the bottom end, as far as the backrest goes, posture is always important, so I like backrests that will make contact with your shoulder blades, which will kind of cue you to sit up.  You also want lumbar support; you want some kind of mechanism that’s somewhat adjustable, but you do have to sit back in the chair properly.

I like it adjustability with armrests; the in-and-out is important because we’re all different widths, up and down as important as well.  Often the mouse will be away from you, so if you can have an armrest that allows you to have support if you have to reach away from your mouse, that’s important.

What’s really important is to remember we’re not really built for sitting for long periods of time; the most natural movement for the human body is getting up and walking, so making sure  you’re squirming around a lot during your day, and even taking stretch breaks in your chair.  One of my favorites is turning your palms up, leaning back and doing the “why-me” stretch.  And then just reaching down with your palms open and trying to get the back of your head up to the ceiling.  This is the opposite of the common slouch that we get into too much.

Here we’ve got an adjustable desk, and there’s a couple of adjustable things.  One, we’ve got the desk that’s adjustable, this is the more inexpensive style; there are electric ones as well, but the crank ones usually do the trick.  If you’re the type of person that’s not on the keyboard constantly and you want your keyboard on the desk, you want to have the desk about  1½ inches above seated elbow height. If you’re a really intense computer user, a tray is usually a good idea; this is a newer product, I haven’t seen one of these either. I like them, they’re portable, they’re adjustable, and you can move them and have some flexibility.  What trays can do is they allow your elbows to get close to your body, you get nice and close to your work, and you get a really flat nice top to your wrists.  You don’t want extension of the wrist, you don’t want to get this type of thing happening, because that can cause a lot of problems.  Nothing under your wrist, you don’t want those big gel pads under the wrist; you should really only have pressure on the base of your palm, so if you have a pad there that’s fine, but nothing should make contact in that area.  Good posture, upright, just like so.  Also when you’re using the mouse, make sure you don’t have this finger-hovering habit; that will cause you problems on the top of your forearm.  Make sure the arms of your chair don’t bump up against the tray and push it away.

I use a laptop computer for when I’m out of the office most of the time, but when I get here I dock it, and I primarily use this as my main monitor, but I use this as sort of a secondary monitor as well.  So, most of my day, I read a lot of emails and do a lot of research on the Web; a lot of searching and browsing websites.  I do have a lot of paperwork as well, that’s what all these stacks are here, so basically I usually have some things in front of me and then I put stuff into the computer.  I do talk on the phone a lot, but sometimes I use a headset, or I just sit back like this.

The number one thing we want to look at is your posture and your body position, so why don’t I show you a few things? The whole goal is, first of all, you’ve got to be comfortable, you’ve got to be sitting in your chair properly.  A lot of people will sit on the front edge, but you want to actually sit back in your chair, lean back against your lumbar support (this little pad that most chairs have), and the ideal posture is about a 5-10 degree recline.  A lot of research on the body has shown that slightly reclined and relaxed muscles in the shoulders and in the neck is ideal.  So, good posture is what gives you the most relaxed muscles.  You want to be able to do most of your work from this position, so the whole idea is to have the things that you do most often within reach, and close to you, and try not to get into this head-forward posture that causes a lot of problems.  Your head weighs quite a bit, a lot of muslces turn on for support up there; when you reach too far, a lot of muscles turn on in your neck, and the head forward and the shoulders forward create this bad posture that causes most of the health problems in people that work in an office.  The whole goal is to see what we can do to get you back in a good position, so why don’t I get you back in your chair and we’ll see what we can do here.

Sit back in the chair, first off, and we want to move you nice and close.  We want everything within reach; the mouse, the keyboard, everything relatively close.  You shouldn’t have to reach too far for most things.  When you’re on the phone, you’re in a good position, you want to use your headset more.  What I see leading you into the bad, head-forward position the most is a little glare from your window, and your monitor is a little low and a little far away.  You read your email, before you know it, you’re in that position for an hour, and that causes problems.  What I would do is just raise your monitor up a bit, a block of photocopy paper works well, and I’ll get you to move closer.  You basically want this top line of your monitor in line with the top of your eyesocket, and that’s the proper position.  Now let’s just move this a little bit forward so you don’t feel like you have to put your head forward.  There might be a little bit of restructuring here to get your phone a little bit more within reach.  Now you don’t have to put yourself foward, you can work from a reclined position; as gravity takes its toll on you during the day, you basically relax with gravity into your chair, instead of your head going forward onto your desk.


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Herman Miller Ergonomic Chairs and Desks — 2 Comments

  1. Nice furniture. Came here while reading about it in Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink”. Wish I could get hold of these things…

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