Elbow Room

Remember when you were little and your mom hasn’t yet lost hope to instill good table manners in you, she would say: “Keep your elbows off the table” and maybe even sang you a song:

Mary, Mary, strong and able,

Keep your elbows off the table!

This is not a horse’s stable….

Later in life, as you attended college and joined the workforce, you might have run into an ergonomics coach, who taught you how to maintain a proper sitting posture and showed you a diagram like this one here.

Well, I strongly disagree. Not with your mother, of course. Mom knows best, and the dining table manners are her domain. Mine is the massage table, and as a massage therapist, I help clients who develop chronic pain in their wrists, arms and shoulders from sitting this way. You see, your arms, if not properly supported, put an inordinate stress on your shoulder girdle, especially if you have to sit like this for eight hours.

From my experience, the height of the chair on this diagram is shown correctly, but the height of the desk and the position of the elbows are not. I believe that to relieve the pressure on the shoulders and arms, your desk height should be just above the belly button, and the elbows should be on the desk, not on an armrest. Try it.

The ideal set up for this is an L-shaped desk, where you sit facing the corner. This allows your elbows to be on the desk and at an angle that Mother Nature intended them to be.

Every body is different. The key is to use the ergonomics diagram as a starting point and then to experiment with different chair and desk heights until you find the set-up, which makes your muscles and joints happy.

And if you do end up developing pain in your wrists, elbows, or shoulders, we are here for you. Go online to www.breathespa.ca, or call us at 403-457-3060 and make an appointment.


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