Dynamic sitting is something that every office employee should do. Because we are sitting – and in fact we are sitting far too much and far too long. This is not only confirmed by numerous studies, but also by the health insurance companies. Because in Germany, the most frequent reason for absences due to illness is back pain.

More than 15 million Germans who work in an office spend between 6 and 8 hours a day sitting. What this means for the back is quite obvious. The supposedly comfortable office work comes with its dangers – especially when sitting on the office chair without moving:

richtig Sitzen: Anleitung und Infografik

Instructions and infographic: sitting correctly

Sitting rigidly ensures that the spine is stressed monotonously. After a short time, the intervertebral discs are no longer supplied with blood properly. The back muscles work hard to support the back and get overstrained in the long run.

The short-term consequences: headaches, back pain, tension, and a decrease in efficiency. By sitting in an office chair like that day after day, consequential damage, even a slipped disc, can occur. Current studies even show that sitting incorrectly and for too long can shorten your lifespan.

Nevertheless, we don’t have to be afraid of sitting because there are many ways to relieve the back even when sitting.

Dynamic sitting is one of them. And that is exactly what today’s blog post is about.

Dynamic sitting sounds complicated at first. In practice, however, it is easy to implement, so that everyone can sit dynamically even while working at a desk, without actually thinking about it. Ideally, anyone who works a lot and for a long time at a desk should always sit dynamically!

By the way, movement is the key to healthy office work – but more on that later. First, we would like to explain how to sit dynamically and what you need to do so.

For all those who think that more movement in the workplace means extra costs, I’ve got good news:

Almost anyone can sit dynamically. Many chairs have backrests that can be locked in different positions. This means that the back can switch between several positions.

This is how dynamic sitting works

Dynamic sitting means active sitting. The sitting position is changed frequently during dynamic sitting. Sitting thus becomes an active task and is no longer passive and static.

While sitting dynamically, one changes between three different sitting postures: The front sitting posture, the upright sitting posture and the back sitting posture.

The sitting postures

Dynamisches Sitzen: Hier die aufrechte Sitzhaltlung

The upright sitting posture

Front sitting posture
With this sitting posture you bend your upper body slightly forward. The thighs are slightly bent backwards.

Place your forearms on the desk to support your body.

Upright sitting posture
The upper and lower arms as well as the upper and lower legs should form at least a 90° angle. The feet rest firmly on the floor. Both heels are parallel to the knee pit.

Back sitting posture
When sitting in the back posture the upper body is leaning far back. The legs form an open angle.

Advantages of dynamic sitting

The advantages of dynamic sitting are summarised quite easily:

  • The muscles are strengthened by the constant change in position.
  • Dynamic sitting enables better blood circulation, which in turn helps to improve efficiency.
  • The intervertebral discs are relieved and supplied with nutrients much better.
  • Long-term incorrect postures and strains are prevented.
  • The alternating sitting posture reduces the strain on the back, which leads to fewer back pain problems.

The comparison with static sitting

  • The monotonous sitting posture leads to muscle shortening.
  • Due to the one-sided strain, the muscles become tired sooner, which leads to tension.
  • The reduced blood circulation lowers the capacity and efficiency enormously.
  • The intervertebral discs do not receive an optimal supply of nutrients.
  • In the long run, you have daily tension and pain in your back, neck, and shoulders.

A quite significant difference, isn’t it? To avoid back pain in the first place, you should think about getting ergonomic office furniture – especially a good chair. This will save you the trouble of back problems right from the start.

More movement in the office

Anyone who does not have an office chair made for dynamic sitting can still introduce more movement into their daily work routine. Because even with a basic model, you can stay active.

Even the rotating movement of the seat supports the back and means active sitting. When I’m working, I often turn the seat back and forth unconsciously.

This is very easy to integrate into the work routine at the desk. Of course, as with everything, you shouldn’t overdo it.

With a synchro or tilting mechanism, standard features on many office chairs, you strengthen and relieve your back muscles and intervertebral discs by moving the backrest. However, it is important to adjust the resistance of the backrest to your body weight. Otherwise, the tilting is either too easy or too hard.

For those who have an office chair with an immovable backrest, this is more challenging. I strongly recommend getting a good chair – it is, after all, one of your main work utensils. However, there are a few tricks that can help you move more and actively at work.

For example, you can use several screens (I explained in detail why this makes sense here). Instead of just turning your head, you can turn your body to face the monitor when you switch screens.

Another option is to divide the desk into effective work areas. If you have a fixed space for handwriting, one for typing on the keyboard and one for other work, you will have to change your sitting position regularly. And those who sit healthily are not only more efficient, but also more active in their work routine and more satisfied!

Movement – but why do it at all?

Ihre Arbeitsmittel sollten Ihren Körper unterstützen!

Your work equipment should comfort your body!

Movement is the key – as I have already mentioned above. Tension, pain, and consequential damage – all this can be caused by a lack of movement.

Now I would like to briefly explain the reasons for this and why movement in the office is very important for our health.

Humans are evolutionarily made for movement. As soon as we sit, muscles are strained on one side – and even overstrained after prolonged sitting. This constant strain can cause atrophied, unused muscles. The muscular balance is therefore disturbed. In the long term, this leads to problems with the musculoskeletal system.

To prevent all of this, we need to move actively in the office! For that, I have already given a few tips. Now let’s have a look at how to introduce even more movement into our daily work routine with ergonomic office furniture.

Healthy office furniture

What is necessary for that and what is good office furniture at all?

A chair that supports dynamic sitting is just the first step, because there are plenty of options. It doesn’t have to be an expensive chair – it has to be a chair that suits you and supports the desire to move.

So, look out for the following in your office chair:

  • Your chair has individually adjustable armrests
  • It has a synchronous mechanism that can be adjusted to your body weight
  • It has a breathable backrest
  • The backrest can be locked in different positions

But the chair itself is not the only thing you need. The desk is also an important work item and should therefore be adjusted exactly to your needs.

  • Make sure that the height of your desk is adjustable.
  • It should be at least 160x80cm.
  • The surface should not be reflective – so do not use glass desks to work on.
  • Rounded edges (edge strips) protect your forearms.

This is a solid basic set-up for working at a monitor in a healthier way.

Even more movement in the office

If you want to get more movement into your daily work routine in addition to dynamic sitting, a height-adjustable desk is an interesting option.

elektrisch höhenverstellbarer Schreibtisch

Example of a modern, electric height-adjustable desk

The height of such a desk can be adjusted by pressing a button or using a crank. This allows you to temporarily work while standing up. This is not only good for your back, but also has a “wake-up effect”. You are more efficient and active! This desk model has replaced conventional desks in many large companies for several years now.

Studies prove the effectiveness of the sit-stand concept.

During working hours, it is recommended to sit 60% dynamically, to work 30% standing up and to walk 10% actively.

Walking? Yes, you can walk during work. Walking to the coffee machine, to the post box or to the canteen counts as walking. You can also walk to your colleague’s office instead of talking to him on the phone.

Many famous entrepreneurs would never sit rigidly in an office for long. Some even held meetings while walking. By the way, this is a great way to get more exercise into your daily routine and get your circulation going.

You can stand more even without a height-adjustable desk. Try to hold meetings while standing. Besides the health aspect, such meetings are often more effective and finished much faster.

Conclusion

In summary: Movement is enormously important for our health, even in our daily office work routine! If you sit, you will rust – much faster than you think! Dynamic sitting helps us to move actively while working at the monitor.

  • Ideally, we should change our sitting posture every 15 minutes at the latest (alternating between front, upright and back sitting posture).
  • Do more standing. Ideally, work at a height-adjustable desk.
  • Incorporate plenty of movement into your work routine.

Office chairs that support dynamic sitting

The post "Dynamic sitting – staying active while working at a monitor" written by:

Stephan Forstmann

Experte für Home Office und gesunde Büroarbeit

Stephan is from Dresden, Germany. He is a founding member of Deskonia since 2009.

Stephan is a home office worker since 2013 and became a home office expert. He shares his experience and publishes various tutorials for a better life at the office und creates tutorials on topics like ergonomics and communication.

In private, he is also very passionate about photography. He loves to chat about photography-gear and composition an. Stephan also published a lot of photography tutorials.

If you want to get in touch with Stephan, you can easily reach him via e-mail: forstmann@bueromoebel-experte.de.

see all posts by author