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Back pain is one of the most common complaints from office workers, as a result of having to sit at their desks all day, day after day. There are comfortable chairs for back pain, but oftentimes, workers are stuck with cheap office chairs, or the office chairs they do have are not adjusted correctly. There are specific settings and comfortable positions to keep in mind, that might help alleviate any back pain resulting from sitting for long hours.
The best chairs for lower back pain are ergonomic computer chairs. These chairs are designed to provide the optimum comfort and support, for people exactly in your position: stuck in a chair for long hours. Ergonomic computer chairs are also incredibly comfortably, and will allow you a more enjoyable working experience, in general.
One very important thing that ergonomic computer chairs provide is lower back support. These chairs contain a lumbar pillow insert that cushions the lower back, stretching and elevating the lumbar muscles, and taking some pressure off of the spine.
The best computer chairs have many adjustable components, so you can adjust them to suit your particular body. Make sure the height of your chair, your armrests, seat depth, and back incline are all adjusted to suit you. It doesn't matter the quality of the chair you're sitting in, if it's not adjusted for your body, you may actually be harming yourself even more.
Americans spend billions of dollars treating back pain every year, but what's most important is to nip the back pain in the bud before it starts. If you take the proper precautions, by sitting correctly in the right chair that is adjusted for you, you will go a long way to prevent back problems in the long run. Simply being conscious of the way you are sitting will help you improve.
Ergonomics – it’s become an immensely important consideration for both individuals and employers. Even UCLA has started offering ergonomics guides and information for students, teachers and others. Whether you’re an office worker or an employer, it’s important that you understand the key concepts in workplace ergonomics in order to prevent injury, maximize productivity and reduce ergonomic injury-related lost time from the job.
Reducing Strain and Stress on Key Body Parts
The entire point of ergonomics is to position office equipment and to support the body in such a way that it reduces strain on key body parts. These include the following:
- Upper and lower back
- Thighs and legs
Key Ergonomic-Related Injuries
33% of all workplace injuries involve musculoskeletal injuries generally caused by poor workplace ergonomics. These injuries cause a significant amount of lost time at work, which impacts both the employer and the employee. Some of the conditions caused by not implementing the correct ergonomic plan can include carpal tunnel, eye strain/headaches, tendinopathy, bursitis and many others.
Key Concepts to Understand
There are several different concepts at play in workplace ergonomics, including posture, correct workstation setup and more. These include the following:
- Neutral Neck Position – Your workstation, desk and office chair should allow you to maintain a neutral neck position. A computer monitor should be at least 20 inches away from your body, and it should be directly in front of and slightly below your eye level.
- Spine Support – Sitting for long hours puts serious stress on your spine and back/shoulder muscles. To correctly support your spine, you need to sit with your feet flat on the floor, and you should have an office chair that provides good lumbar support (either adjustable or with extra padding in the lumbar region). Armrests should be included with the office chair, and they should be adjustable to eliminate shoulder strain.
- Arm and Hand Positioning – The position you’re forced to hold your arms and hands in when seated at your computer can put additional strain on your body. When seated and using the keyboard, your elbows should be at 100 to 110 degrees (open). The keyboard should have a negative tilt so you can keep a neutral position in your hands and wrists. Keyboard trays should be wide enough for both the keyboard and the mouse, so you can use them without raising your arm to another position.
Breaks, Stretching and Exercising
It might sound counterintuitive, but office workers should engage in regular stretching and exercising while on the job. This helps to eliminate stress and strain, and enhances blood flow, which can increase comfort as well as productivity. Regular breaks are also important to help prevent workplace injuries.
- For every 20 minutes of typing, you should take a 20-second break
- For every 20 minutes of typing, you should look away and focus on the middle distance for 20 seconds
- Every hour, you should get up and walk around the office or take a stroll to the break room
- Every hour, stretch your legs, arms, shoulders and wrists to enhance blood flow
These tips and key concepts will help enhance workplace productivity, but also reduce the chance of injury for office workers
Ergonomic chairs have become an essential part of the workplace. Chairs designed with proper ergonomics promote good health and comfort. They enforce the idea that the chair should adjust for you and not the other way around. However, ergonomic chairs can be quite expensive, especially the top-of-the-line, best ergonomic chairs. At the same time, you don’t necessarily have to look for a chair that brands itself as being ergonomic. You merely need to look for a few components that promote ergonomic design. By keeping an eye out for these features, you might find a chair with ergonomic features but at a price your pocketbook can appreciate.
Begin by looking for chairs with height adjustment
If you are confused as to what makes a chair ergonomic and why many of these chairs cost an arm and leg, you merely need to think of these seats as loaded with adjustments, especially height adjustment. Even if you see a chair in your price range that doesn’t say it is ergonomic, check to see if it features height adjustment. Height and backrest adjustment are key components of ergonomic design. They allow the user to adjust the chair to suit their lower back needs and their height. In the process, the back is happier and the legs can enjoy proper circulation.
Seek out chair mechanisms
A chair mechanism might be a foreign feature to you. However, if you look closely at the description of those fancy ergonomic office chairs, you will probably see this term mentioned. The chair mechanism controls how the seat and backrest move. It allows the chair to lock into any number of positions. Even if you can’t afford the most expensive ergonomic chairs, you can still look for cheaper options with this feature. Many ergonomic chairs come with a multi-function mechanism. This allows you to adjust the backrest to multiple angles, along with the pitch of the seat pan. You might also see chairs with a knee tilt mechanism. This helps you to keep your feet on the ground and thighs parallel to the floor when you do lean back in your chair. In the process, you experience better blood flow, which leads to less fatigue and discomfort.
Check to see if the seat slides
Another ergonomic component to chairs is the seat slider. You might only be looking for a chair in the $100 to $200 range. Even at this price point, you should be able to find chairs that have a seat slider. The seat slider allows you to adjust the seat to fit your height and width, rather than you having to try and fit into a chair that doesn’t exactly suit your dimensions. You can fit more comfortably into the contours of the seat as a result. The ergonomic feature of a seat slider adds more comfort and customization than a basic chair.
You might not have the budget to shop in the top-of-the-line ergonomic chair section. However, there are ergonomic chairs to suit all budgets. Even if you can’t afford the priciest chair, you can still seek out features in more affordable office chairs that promote ergonomic design.
With Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, it is almost time to whip out your credit card and get going on your holiday shopping. While most, like myself, procrastinate until the last minute to get their holiday presents, it is never too early to begin thinking about the perfect gift to get someone. There are always the standard presents such as jewelry and clothes to buy for someone, but why not think a little out of the box this holiday season? Instead of going for cliche presents, try a present that will last for years on end, that someone can use everyday, and can help them be more comfortable throughout the day. Try buying an office chair this holiday season for your friends, co-worker, loved ones, or even yourself.
Quality office chairs, that are not purchased at your nearest office supply store, can last up to 10 years if taken care of properly and maintained. A ten year life span for an office chair is comparable to a car's life span, and a good one can be purchased at 1/20th the price. Office chairs that are a little more expensive than your average office supply store chair are built to withstand the test of time and are extremely durable. They are also built to provide back support for sitting hours on end with ergonomics in mind. Most presents purchased for the holiday season have less than half that life span and tend to be forgotten about a few months after purchasing. An office chair will stay top of mind even years after purchasing.
The average office worker spends 8 hours of their day sitting in an office chair, meaning that they spend half of their entire day in a chair. In a lifetime that means an average office worker will spend 70,000 hours sitting in an office chair being on the conservative end of the spectrum. With spending such an extraordinary amount of time sitting in an office chair it is a worth investing in purchasing a superior chair for the holiday season. If worrying about whether an office chair that is purchased will work and fit someone you are buying the present for, all ergonomic chairs are made with that consideration in mind. Ergonomic chairs are built with adjustability in mind, meaning a person can adjust and tailor a chair to fit themselves exactly the way they want it to. For people of larger statute or people who are petite, some retailers, such as Sitbetter, offer special chairs just to meet the needs of these kind of people.
With family, friends, and even yourself working long hours everyday it is a priority to work these hours comfortably. While work is pretty much inevitable, being relaxed and healthy does not have to be. A present that would provide that comfort would be viewed as a valuable amenity to have. Many quality office chairs offer memory foam options, as well as options to increase the seat thickness to add extra comfort. Ergonomic office chairs also are built to provide comfort and decrease the risk of back pain and stress injuries that can occur in the future from bad posture or a bad office chair.
This holiday season when shopping for others or even yourself, keep the gift of an office chair in mind. It will be a gift that will be remembered for a lifetime and everyday when your recipient is sitting on it they will be reminded of you. Even if you are on a budget during these hard economic times, there are plenty of options that will provide all the factors aforementioned at an affordable price. Happy Holiday shopping and keep a look out for gift guides coming in the near future only at Sitbetter!
It has been argued that almost everyone at some point in their life will experience lower back pain. Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on low back pain, the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work. This pain can vary from being mild to severe. It can be short-lived or long-lasting. However, if it does happen, lower back pain can make everyday activities seem tedious and difficult to do. For some cases back pain resolves on its own within a few weeks naturally. But if back pain becomes too severe, treatment can result in having to use medications, physical medicine, and sometimes even surgery in order to alleviate pain and correct the problem. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent back pain from occurring, and sometimes it comes down to having an ergonomically correct office chair.
Common causes of low back pain include lumbar strain, nerve irritation, lumbar radiculopathy, bony encroachment, and conditions of the bone and joints. Lumbar strain is the most common form of low back pain and typically occurs because of overuse, improper use, or trauma. The condition is characterized by localized discomfort in the low back are with onset after an event that mechanically stressed the lumbar issues. The nerves of the lumbar spine can be irritated by mechanical impingement or disease anywhere from their roots at the spinal cord to the skin surface. Lumbar radiculopathy is nerve irritation that is caused by damage to the discs between the vertebrae. Damage occurs because of degeneration of the outer ring of the disc. Bony encroachment includes any condition that results in movement or growth of the vertebrae of the lumbar spine can limit the space for the adjacent spinal cord and nerves. Bone and joint conditions that lead to low back pain include those existing from birth, those that result from wear and tear or injury, and those that are from inflammation of the joints.
Recurring back pain resulting from improper body mechanics or other non traumatic causes is often preventable. A combination of exercises that don’t jolt or strain the back, maintaining correct posture, and lifting objects properly can help prevent injuries. Most people spend up to 10 hours a day sitting in an office chair and most sit in a chair that was bought because it was cheap and seemingly durable. The best choice for an office chair is one that is ergonomically correct, meaning a chair that is designed to fit the individual, complete with adjustable arms, an adjustable seat, can tilt forward and back, and provides lumbar support. Ergonomic chairs are made with the idea that one chair does not fit everyone and that the users’ body dimensions must be used when selecting a chair so that it does not strain one part of the body while fitting the other. Because the lumbar spine has an inward curve, sitting for long periods of time without support for this curve tends to lead to slouching and strains the structures in the lower spine.
There are many simple ways to get a healthier back. Following any period of prolonged inactivity, begin a program of regular low-impact exercises such as speed walking, swimming, yoga, etc. Do not try to lift objects that are too heavy for you. Lift with your knees, pull in your stomach muscles, and keep your head down and in line with your straight back. Make sure not to slouch when standing or sitting. Sit in a chair with good lumbar support and proper position and height for the task. Keep your shoulders back and switch sitting positions often. Periodically walk around the office or gently stretch muscles to relieve tension. With these simple tips in mind, you will be well on your way to a healthier back, less pain, and happier living.