For most of us, our office workspace is what it is. You deal with the desk, chair, office layout/cubicle space and computer workstation that you were given. However, even those of us not allowed to choose our own chairs and desks can reconstruct our office space to enhance ergonomics. If you’re not familiar with the concept, ergonomics is the science of applied design to protect the human body, prevent strain and stress on joints and muscles, while maximizing productivity. The CDC highlights numerous serious health disorders stemming from poor workplace ergonomics, but you can take matters into your own hands and reconstruct that space to protect yourself.
These days, most of us spend the majority of our time on the computer while at work. This means that your computer system’s setup and layout are of paramount importance in terms of ergonomics. You need to be most concerned with two elements here:
The computer monitor should be at or just below eye level, and it should be angled so that you can see the screen clearly despite the glare of those ubiquitous fluorescents overhead. If you have to squint, hunch, tilt your head or otherwise adjust your body to see the screen clearly, it’s not set up correctly.
The primary means of interaction between humans and computers is through the keyboard and mouse. Make sure that the keyboard is at or just below the level of your arms when in a seated position. Have a wrist rest in front of the keyboard to support your wrists. The mouse should be located on the same level as the keyboard and usable without any unnecessary twisting or readjusting of your body.
You might not think a footrest is an appropriate piece of office furniture, but it is. Adding a footrest under your desk can help decrease stress and strain on your legs, knees and hips, and it can also help enhance blood flow. Not all workplaces will happily let you add a footrest to your office, but it should be considered to help protect you.
All of your frequently used items should be kept within easy reach of your office chair. Ideally, you’ll have a document holder next to your monitor, so you can reach it while keeping your elbows near your sides. This also applies to your phone. As a note, if you spend a considerable amount of time on the phone during the day, consider investing in a good headset, rather than using the uncomfortable handset. This will prevent you from trying to type and talk or listen at the same time while crunching your head to your shoulder (to hold the handset in place). A headset can make an enormous difference in your comfort and alleviate phone call-related neck, shoulder and back pain.
Follow these tips and reconstruct your office workspace for better comfort and ergonomics. Your body will thank you.
There are many brands of ergonomic chairs on the market today, including Allseating, BOSS, ErgoFast, Eurotech, and many others. With so many different choices of ergonomic chairs and stools, many of which you can probably find in an office near you, it’s clear that ergonomics have become a popular trend in office furniture design. But how many people actually know what makes a chair, or any other piece of office furniture, “ergonomic”? Keep reading if you’re interested in learning more about this revolution in seating and furniture design, and making the most of your health and workplace experience.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, ergonomics, which is also known as human engineering or biotechnology, is a type of applied science that is centered on the design and arrangement of “things people use” so that those people and things “interact most efficiently and safely.” The term may also be used to describe the characteristics and design of an object as a consequence of the use of ergonomic science. This may all sound complicated, but at the end of the day, ergonomic furniture is designed to keep people comfortable and safe as they work, and most importantly, to help workers avoid stress-related injuries on the job. The following factors affect the ergonomic design of an office chair, which is the most important piece of furniture for a comfortable workplace.
A regular office chair can easily leave a person with pain in the back, neck, and shoulders after extended use. It really doesn’t take long to feel these effects if you are sitting in a poorly designed office chair day in and day out. With one of the available ergonomically designed products, such as the popular ergoCentric chairs, this is no longer a problem. An ergonomic chair is designed to provide optimal back support, including lumbar support in addition to a classic backrest with just the right amount of padding, to keep the spine in a healthy straight position. This ultimately limits stress, absorbs shocks, and reduces the likelihood of injury.
The height of a chair may seem inconsequential, but it can make a big difference when it’s wrong. If the height of your chair and/or armrests isn’t right, you will quickly become uncomfortable on the job. Ergonomically designed chairs have adjustable armrests and seats, and sometimes even adjustable backrests, so you can get the perfect match for your height and body type.
The overall size of a chair matters in ergonomics as well. The design of an office chair should not only consider the height of various parts, but also the width of the backrest, and the depth and width of the seat. The backrest should be at least 12 inches wide and the seat should be at least 18 inches wide, if not more, to provide adequate support for the worker.
At the end of the day, all these ergonomic factors can help contribute to a happier and healthier workforce, which makes an organization much more productive in the long run.
When one pictures an office chair in their head there is a universal perception as to what a typical office chair looks like. This image usually includes a set of five wheels, a black nylon five-star base, a cylinder which allows the chair to be adj
usted up and down, a seat, and a backrest. While this is the case for over 90% of chair models out there, there are the unique 10% that break away from the mold. The difference is most commonly found in the shape of the backrest. While these backrests may appear to be odd and out of the ordinary, sometimes when it comes to office chairs the weirder it looks the better it actually is for your back.
Independent Lower Back Support
One popular type of backrest that can be found on specialty ergonomic chairs is a backrest that is separated into two parts, one part for the upper back and one part for the lower back. The advantage to this type of back support is the independent lower back support provides extra and exacting lumbar support, especially favorable for those that suffer from lower back pain. This chair is ideal for lower back pain sufferers as they need additional support in their lumbar region that can often not be achieved with a standard back rest. The most popular office chair model that has this type of support is the Ergohuman by Eurotech.
Chairs that are designed for scapular independence allow for freedom of motion for individuals around their shoulder blade area when seated. The benefit of having a backrest that tapers away from the shoulder blade area is that occupants have the advantage of being able to sit back and avoid interference that is often caused by full back rests. This is helpful for occupations that call for having to reach for the phone, different parts of the desk, for supplies, files, cabinets, etc. when seated. The overall idea of this is to promote healthier sitting postures which are often not achieved with full chair backs. This type of backrest also promotes a more active work environment as users are now able to stretch and bend without having to worry about their chair getting in their way. This type of backrest can be seen on the Allseating Therapod and Office Master Discovery Back Chairs.
Winged backrests are another unique type of backrest that are found on specialized ergonomic chairs that feature a shape that is designed to focus on providing support for the mid to lower back. With two pronounced side contours, the wing shape envelopes the users middle and lower back which works to provide back pain relief. A popular model that features this backrest is the Ergocentric Mycentric.
Perhaps the most odd -ooking of all the backrests available are those that focus on all parts of the spine. This type of backrest provides the most overall back support for those that suffer from upper and lower back pain. This support is unique in that it supports all different parts of the spine through either a strap support system or individual “ribs”. The strap support system is built into the backrest, either covered or uncovered, and allows the user to pull the straps to tighten them wherever they need more support along different parts of their spine. On other chairs that have “ribs” these are located along the middle of the backrest and can be pushed in or pulled out depending on how much pressure is needed along different points of the spine. Both types of support are the best at achieving customized support for the whole back. Chairs that incorporate this distinctive advantage are the RFM Preferred Verte and Allseating CPOD.
To view SitBetter’s extensive line of ergonomic office chairs please click here.
When a person enters your place of business, one thing they likely notice is how you are sitting. If you are slumped over, you may give the impression of being tired or unapproachable. This can be offsetting to customers and fellow co-workers, and
even worse, it can put a strain on your back that can cause you significant amounts of pain over the long-haul. Now, people are turning to modern chairs for the office to help sit in a more welcoming way while also delivering some much-needed relief to their spine and hips.
Here are a few examples of odd-looking seating solutions that work to help people feel better when they sit.
For some businesses that have designated eating areas or those that serve food, bar stools provide a unique way to ease the strain during breakfast meetings or lunch hour. When a person is eating, they extend their arms and wrists in a way that can put pressure on the wrist and elbows. By adding adjustable bar stools, people are able to adjust their seating to be more ergonomically friendly and encourage them to sit better while they are eating. This also allows people to move more freely while they are eating, which is an important part of helping to reduce strain on the spine from sitting in the same posture for extended periods of time.
This can be one of the most interesting sights in a place of business, but kneeling-down seating options have some of the best effects when used for small periods of time. The simple and highly ergonomically friendly designed kneeling chair is perfect for people who want to change the way they sit. It works by opening up the thigh from the upper part of the body. This in turn helps the back hold onto its natural curvature reducing the temptation to slouch or hunch over. It also helps the person kneeling to sit more actively, which can boost the flow of energy.
Saddle type seating is similar to the kneeling solution. When you sit on this odd-looking saddle stool, your legs are encouraged to open just slightly and your thighs are naturally lowered. This helps your back by putting the spine in a curvature that will eliminate pain-causing pressure and allow you to maintain good posture. The height is adjustable, so it is easy to find the best fit for any body type. The saddle stool is perfect for people who move around frequently from room to room, such as in a doctor or dentist office.
While high-backed leather chairs are not uncommon in a corporate building, ones that are designed ergonomically can turn heads at their unique but sleek shape. For people who suffer from chronic back pain, having a chair that can support the various parts of the back and the natural lumbar curve in the spine can be hugely beneficial—so much so that some insurance companies have actually paid for these types of seating solutions as medically certified necessities. The Verte, for example, works by supporting 11 different spots along the spine with its unique back adjusters that allow individuals to get the specific support they need. The arms and height are also adjustable, making this a fully customizable solution for anyone with chronic pain.
If you are looking for a way to feel better at work, it may be a good idea to try one of these oddly shaped chairs. They not only work as a conversation starter, but they can also help promote better posture. Over time, they will deliver health benefits that will help reduce your pain and make you feel more energized.
For more information on ergonomic chairs and to view SitBetter’s extensive collection of ergonomic chairs, please click here!
Sitting in an office chair at work is almost inevitable with the growing number of desk jobs and steady increase in office related positions. If you are going to be sitting for the majority of the work day, it is important to be sitting in a chair that is going to be adjustable enough to allow you to sit comfortably for hours a day. While most of us search for chairs with functionality, one area of the chair we often overlook is the armrests. Almost every chair has armrests of some sort or the option to add armrests as an upgrade to the chair. Armrests are an important component of any ergonomic office chair. Proper armrest design allows a place to rest your arms while working, relieving the pressure from your upper back and shoulders which sometimes is experienced when using an armless chair. There are a number of different types of armrests available which is why it is important to determine which will work best for your needs and keep you sitting comfortably throughout the day.
Fixed Armrests – Fixed armrests are the most affordable but also the least adjustable option available. They are fixed in height and are not adjustable. While these type of armrests are certainly an economical choice, they are not a very ergonomic option. They lack the adjustability needed to place the arms at the correct height for your body and can cause back pain because of this. If armrests are too high, this will raise the shoulders, causing tension in the shoulders and upper back muscles. Too low and they may cause you to lean forward which also puts pressure on your upper back. While fixed armrests are not the best choice for ergonomic chairs, they are a good choice for desk chairs that are only used for a few hours a day or conference room chairs.
Height Adjustable Armrests – At the very minimum, armrests should be able to adjust in height to enable your arms to rest in a comfortable working position for your everyday tasks. Height adjustable arms can be found as an option or included on most office chairs and is among the most popular armrest available. If it is not included in the price of the chair, adjustable armrests are generally reasonably priced to add-on as an option.
Some height adjustable armrests are also width adjustable, allowing the user to move the armrests out further from their seat if they are wider or bring them in closer to the body if they have a smaller frame. If you do have width adjustable armrests be certain not to put the armrests too close together as this can interfere with relaxed typing and restrict the ability to rest your hands in your lap when you are not typing, creating a confined environment. Armrests which are too far apart may cause shoulders to over-extend, causing upper back strain. Width adjustment is not as common as height adjustment in armrests and can only be found on certain models by select manufacturers.
Multi-Function Armrests – Multi-function armrests are highly adjustable and allow for the arms to be adjusted in height, width, and the arm pad has the ability to pivot. These highly adjustable armrests are a great option for shorter or wider individuals that need their arms closer to their body or farther away. The independent pivoting action helps accommodate sideways arm postures that are commonly found among computer users.
With the large range of adjustments available in multi-function arms, it is important to make sure that they do not interfere with your work surface. Poorly designed armrests may constrain postures, causing users to hunch forward and work with elevated arms. Specific work stations set ups may interfere with armrests, contributing to poor posture while working. Pivoting armrests allow the arm pad to be angled inward to prevent problems with narrow diameter corner work surfaces which can be obstructive.
Lateral Adjustable Armrests – Perhaps one of the most advanced armrests to emerge on the market to date, lateral adjustable armrests are an ergonomist’s dream come true especially in the petite market. They are both height and width adjustable and perhaps the best feature of all, can telescope up to 3″ inwards. They are a great choice for petite users that have a difficult time finding an armrest that allows them to rest their arms at the correct position close enough to their body without having to use a children’s chair. These advanced armrests are expensive in price but also among the most ergonomic/adjustable option out there.
Designing good armrests is not an easy task. Not only do people come in a broad range of sizes; they also develop their own ways of sitting over the years. Women tend to sit upright whereas men tend to lean back in their chairs and lounge. Armrests also must accommodate users’ different workstation configurations, including ergonomic accessories such as keyboard trays and mouse pads. Finding the right armrests luckily is not as difficult of a task. With the research and technology being developed in the field of ergonomics, armrests are now able to fit a larger range of users than ever before. When deciding which arms will work best for your work environment, remember the more adjustable the better.