Many chairs are labeled ergonomic, but few people actually know what the word means. To some, it merely means the chair is designed somewhat strangely, with interestingly shaped seats and backrests. For others, ergonomic chairs are all about helping out the user’s health. However, not everyone understands just what the components of an ergonomic chair can do for a person’s comfort and well being. Many jobs require the individual to sit all day, staring at a computer screen. While no one should sit for eight hours a day, in many cases, it is unavoidable. Employees sitting in chairs that don’t have ergonomic components might be experiencing aches and pains.
A common problem with standard office chairs is that they can create a whole laundry list of health problems for the user. As a result, days are missed from work due to piercing back pain. If you have a chair with ergonomic components, you will quickly discover just how different the workplace can be. In addition to assisting with productivity, ergonomic chairs provide features that promote better health. If you are suffering from any of the following aches and pains, here are a few ergonomic solutions that can help reverse the problem.
One of the most common complaints of office workers is that they are experiencing back pain. Back pain is often caused by sitting for too long and in a bad position. An ergonomic chair for back pain aims to reverse these pains by supporting the back. A key aspect to ergonomically designed chairs is a lumbar support adjustment feature. This aspect allows the user to adjust the support of the chair to fit their back. As a result, the back is supported and pain is lessened. The lumbar support feature corrects slouching that might be causing the back pain. As a result, the strain on the lower spine is eliminated. If you are dealing with back pain but you don’t want to buy a new chair, you can always look into ergonomic lumbar support pillows for that added boost.
Hand, Arm and Finger Pains
You might not think that your office chair could affect your hands, arms and fingers. However, how your arms are positioned while you type can be deteriorating the health and wellness of those fingers and hands. Ergonomic features tend to involve adjustable armrests. The idea is that you should be able to adjust the arms of your chair based on what you are doing. For example, arms should not be resting when typing. It slows down blood flow and can lead to problems down the road. A chair with adjustable arms allows you to move the armrests to prevent these aches and pains.
Neck and Shoulder Pain
An improper seat in an office can lead to pains in the back, but also pains throughout the neck and shoulders. Ergonomic solutions call for chairs that have height adjustment. If the height of your chair doesn’t match with your desk or your person, you might be raising your shoulders. As a result, pain sets in. And the neck is one of the most sensitive areas of the body. If it is not properly supported, you could be doing serious damage to your health.
To deal with neck and shoulder pain, there is always an ergonomic solution. Most ergonomic chairs come with a headrest. A headrest can help improve neck comfort by propping up the head to create less strain. Pains due to a bad office chair are often all related. The same can be said with neck and shoulder pain. If you start experiencing neck and shoulder pain due to your office chair, your pains might trickle down the back. It is essential to find an ergonomic solution to correct the problem from the neck down.
The lower back is the connection between the upper and lower body and bears most of the body’s weight. With such a burden to bear the lower back can easily be injured and feel strained, especially without proper support and regular exercise. Lower back pain is often caused by strain, injury, or overuse. This can occur when lifting something that is too heavy, getting jolted in a car accident, playing sports, or simply by sitting for multiple hours a day in an office chair that has no lower back support. Aging may also play a part in developing lower back pain; bones and muscles lose strength with age thus leading to an increased risk of injury. The good news about lower back pain is that most cases will go away within a few weeks with some basic self-care. This can include sitting in an office chair that provides good lumbar support and is properly adjusted to meet the needs of the user.
Not all office chairs come with the necessary support to help eliminate and relieve lower back pain, so it is essential to look for the qualities that make a chair “back friendly”. There are numerous different chair designs that will provide lumbar support, some more basic than others. To start, the simplest kind of back support is a “S” shape design back rest. The importance of the “S” shape is that it mimics the actual shape of the spine, molding your spine into proper anatomical alignment. This benefit can not be achieved in “L” shaped chairs that have flat backs and work the other way around, forcing you to fit your back to the shape of the chair.
A chair with a “S” shape curve can be beneficial but can also work against you if not properly aligned with your spine. If an office chair comes with an “S” shape back rest that is not adjustable, shorter or taller users may not benefit from having the back support positioned on the correct parts of their spine. The next thing you should look for in an office chair after finding one with an “S” shape back is a ratchet back feature. This will allow you to easily move your backrest up or down with a simple knob or lever, allowing you to position the back exactly where you need the support. Not everyone is able to fit into one generic mold, which is why having a chair with adjustable features such as an adjustable back height can be advantageous.
Another good feature some desk chairs possess is an adjustable lumbar support built into the back rest. If a chair does not have a ratchet back function, an adjustable lumbar support can make up for this and can even be more favorable in some opinions. Most adjustable lumbar supports allow the user to move the support up and down according to where they need it to rest on their lumbar region. More advanced lumbar supports allow for adjustment in and out in addition to movement up and down, allowing the user to determine the amount of pressure needed.
Perhaps the most advanced lumbar support system of all is the self-adjusting lumbar support. This unique support system self positions and moves with the user no matter which position they are sitting in. For example, in almost any chair if the user is leaning forward typing they will have any support on their lower back leading to aches and pains. With self-adjusting support, the lower back support is independent therefor allowing it to move with you whether leaning forward to type or sitting back to relax. This precise support provides exacting comfort and a more comfortable sitting experience.
There are many other different back support options available for office chairs, ranging in price and effectiveness. Some of the most advanced office chairs allow for exact placement of pressure along every spot of the vertebrae allowing for a fully customizable sitting experience, great for chronic back pain sufferers. For those with mild back pain, simply having an “S” shape back rest may suffice. The most important factor in achieving lower back pain relief with the help of an office chair is straightforward, having a chair that is going to provide you with the necessary support for your lumbar region. If you will be spending most of your day sitting might as well have a desk chair that is going to provide relief rather than strain.
To view our complete catalog of chairs for lower back pain please click here.
ened to read the Men’s Journal | February 2010 | Volume 19 | Number 1 issue with Mel Gibson on the cover, you might have noticed that there was an article titled “Ergonomic desk chairs: The best buys”. The article explains that 2,000 hours were spent testing ergonomic chairs to help others find the ideal chair suitable for an eight-hour day. The article features 9 ergonomic chairs that Men’s Journal believes to be the best of the best. Of the 9 chairs that were featured in the article, I was happy to see that Sitbetter sells 3 of the 9 mentioned!
The first chair mentioned was the Evolution Exercise Ball Chair by Posture Perfect, which is one of our top sellers on Sitbetter. The Evolution Chair promotes a balanced posture – a vital role in your overall health! Another benefit of the ball chair is that it strengthens your core while you are working; just think working while getting a work out at the same time!
Good posture and core strength are the best insurance against back injury – the Evolution Exercise Ball Chair embodies those principles. While use of the Evolution Ball Chair began with dentists, the benefits are obvious for anyone looking for core improvement. Either by simply sitting correctly, or by taking time to do simple exercises throughout the day, the Evolution Ball Chair has helped lower pain sufferers in all offices.
The reviewers in this particular article gave the Evolution Ball Chair a 7/10 based on the fact that while some definitely loved the ball chair others were not a big fan of it which can be said for almost any chair. Available for $139 at Sitbetter.com
The second chair that was reviewed for the article that is readily available on Sitbetter is the Humanscale Freedom, more expensive in price but you will also get a lot more out of this chair.
With Freedom, the knobs, levers and locks of current-generation task chairs have been replaced by intelligent mechanisms that automatically support the body as it moves from task to task. By minimizing the need for manual controls, Freedom maximizes natural, spontaneous movement, which is essential for a healthy body and a comfortable day’s work. Freedom’s many features can be enjoyed with virtually no effort.
Humanscale’s Liberty and Freedom chairs contain 54%-85% recycled content ,roughly 50% more recycled content than most competing chairs, and are made predominately of 100% recycled and recyclable aluminum. Specifically designed to weigh less and use fewer parts and manufacturing processes than similar designs in the same class, all Humanscale products can help projects earn valuable points toward LEED-CI Certification.
Winner of 10 international design awards for its many revolutionary features and unparalleled ease of use, Freedom’s ground-breaking design is the gold standard by which other task chairs are judged.
The reviewers in this article gave the Freedom a rating of 8/10, the second best rating of all chairs mentioned in the article. “Functional, comfortable, technical, sure, but few office chairs are this stylish,” writes the author Martin Mulkeen. The Freedom definitely is stylish but it also provides proper lumbar and shoulder support as well. Available at Sitbetter.com for $1129.
The third product that was reviewed that is available at Sitbetter is the Kore Ergonomic Rocking stool, a fan favorite for its rocking capabilities (no pun intended).
Taking stool technology to another level, the Kore™ Stool embodies an ergonomic feature long touted by ergonomists as a bedrock of proper ergonomics: Continual motion of your body while at work.
The Kore™ Stool allows the user to flex side to side and front to back – with its patented anti-tip system and gently rounded ergonomic base, the stool allows you to move and flex without falling or leaving your seat.
The Kore™ Stool great for exercising your legs, back, and abdominal muscles, while also relieving and preventing soreness and stiffness!
The reviewers of this article gave the Kore stool a rating of 4/10, which is pretty low from other testimonials and reviews I have read on this chair. “Some testers initially relished the Kore’s challenge of sitting properly without a seat back or stable platform (since the stool is designed to wobble).” writes the author. The Kore stool definitely takes some getting used to but it is fun to sit in and will force you to sit up and use your core. The Kore stool is available for $99 at Sitbetter.com
If you are looking for a great ergonomic chair, I have to agree with the reviewers and say that these are three of the best out there. While some like these chairs more than others, they all have one possess one common factor: they are ergonomically correct and will help you avoid experiencing pain in the back, neck, and shoulders. There are many other great ergonomic chairs available at Sitbetter that were not mentioned as well if these options don’t suit you. If you need help picking out your next ergonomic chair visit Sitbetter.com and feel free to call our toll free number 1-866-311-9421 if you have any questions!
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!