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Back Pain Relief with Chairs and Ergonomics
This entry was posted on January 22, 2010.
Note: We are not licensed back pain specialists, but we are experts in using our products to help alleviate forms of back pain. Use this knowledge in concordance with your doctor or back care specialist's recommendations.
When diagnosing the chairs or back support items that would be best for an individual, it is best to understand how severe a person's back pain is. To simplify matters, we classify back pain into three levels: mild, medium, and severe back pain. Mild can be described as slight pain - not any which would prevent you from sitting in your chair but where you would feel slight discomfort from time to time. Mild lumbar issues or upper shoulder discomfort are the most common mild back pain symptoms. Medium back pain is pain that requires you to get up from time to time, and re-adjust your posture. It prevents you from sitting more than 2 hours at a time on a non-ergonomic chair. Severe back pain is usually diagnosed by a chiropractor or a physician, and requires special ergonomic seating arrangements. It can be best described as constant mild pain consistently throughout the day, with flare ups in pain throughout the day.
Mild Back Pain Relief using Ergonomics
Relieving mild back pain can be as simple as training the muscles around the aggravated area to support the surrounding weaker back area, or getting a good chair. The former requires alternate sitting chairs, such as the Evolution Chair by Posture Perfect, the Kore Stool, or the Saddle Stool by Office Star. As you may have noticed, all three of these items have no backrest. While this may seem counterproductive to the issue at hand, by removing the backrest, you are forcing yourself into adopting the proper posture - thus forcing your muscles learning how to sit in this position. Remembering to sit in the proper position is key - in your initial use of these alternative sitting chairs, you may lapse in posture, but as your use of the products increases, it will become second nature. This will not only help your back but also help your overall posture while you are walking, standing and in any other position you should find yourself. There are a few key items to remember about alternative sitting chairs. The first is that your body will not be used to sitting is these chairs for an extended period of time - they are different. You will most likely be sore in various areas of your back as well, again, because they are not used to the posture. To reduce these issues, it is recommended you follow a gradual acclimation schedule, i.e. use the chair for half an hour the first day, and each day add 15 minutes until you can comfortable use the chair as your main seating utensil.
If you are not inclined to use alternative seating, then there are various things you should be looking for in a chair to relieve mild back pain. You can generally get away with any chair, but looking for a few key variables will help. A good initial feature to look for is a passive lumbar support. This means the chair should have lumbar support built in to the frame, meaning it should have an S-shaped backrest, which conforms to the S shape of your spine. By having a chair that has such contour, your back should fit well into the chair. By fitting well into the chair, you'll be getting support at all the crucial points of your back, including the lumbar and the upper back - the two common mild back pain areas. A third, more conventional way of relieving mild back pain, specifically in the lumbar region, is with the use of an add-on product, such as the Jobri Large Half-Roll Lumbar Support. A product such as this will provide additional lumbar support to the desired region. Mild back pain relief is relatively easy to deal with and is easy to overcome. As with any person with back pain, we always recommend taking breaks from your desk to walk around and give your muscles a chance to relax.
Medium Back Pain Relief Using Ergonomics
Medium back pain is where a truly ergonomic chair should be considered. Sitting in a standard office chair, with minimal back support, will not help alleviate the issues leading to medium back pain, and most times, will certainly aggravate the problem areas as well. Once you experience medium back pain, it is important to understand that generic chairs will not suffice. A good ergonomic chair will run you at least four hundred dollars, depending on the features you select, but will last you for a lifetime. Considering that medium back pain is never an issue solved overnight, having a good chair will be a big relief over the long term. Many times, medium back pain can be solved with a good ergonomic chair and re-addressing the posture and workstation of the pain sufferer. Outfitting your desk with a monitor arm and a keyboard tray, along with a chair such as Allseating's CPOD, is a simple enough solution. Enjoying the correct posture at your desk is critical as it reduces the strain that is placed on your aggravated back muscles. The proper posture, then, is defined simply as sitting right, not necessarily upright, but where one's lower back is flush with the lower back of the backrest, ensuring a full range of back support. The keyboard tray allows the keyboard to be operated from a lower angle, reducing the wrist strain, and the monitor arm encourages the user to have the monitor at the proper eye level. For more information and tips on how to make your workstation ergonomic, regardless of the computer set up you may have, click here!
Severe Back Pain Relief Using Ergonomics
For severe back pain, we recommend only a few chairs that are designed to be perfectly accommodating to the users back. The first is a company called ergoCentric, whom specializes in making chairs that have uniquely accommodating features for specific size users. In other words, you can get one chair specifically built for a person that is 6'8", 245 lbs, and then get that exact same style of chair for a person that is 5'3", 125 lbs. All of their chair models come with a plethora of customization options, which allows for getting unique chairs per user. For back pain, this simply means that you can have a chair built to your specifications, which in turn allows specific, customized back pain relief based on the person's body build. Another very unique chair that was built for back pain is the Verte Chair, by RFM. Critically acclaimed for its unique looks as much as its comfort, the chair features a spine like backrest - each individual "vertebrae" adjusts to provide specific pressure on the users back at the exact points needed. The idea behind the chair is not revolutionary - providing support to areas that need it is a common function of more basic ergonomic chairs - but the idea that the user can be supported on all or most points of their back is.
In short, severe back pain is not a trifling issue. There are companies that specialize on making seating solutions for these purposes and having the right posture and right support is a critical step towards achieving back pain relief on any level. If you need help or suggestions on choosing a chair for back pain, be sure to contact our chair experts for a free consultation and chair recommendations!