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“We got your back.”
Perhaps that was the tag line of the chair you think was the best chair for back pain. Of course, you can take this in the most literal way. After all, you are not looking for just another heavy duty computer chair. Considering buying the best drafting chair is beyond question. These are not the solutions to your recurring back pain. You know that what you need is a chair specifically for back pain.
So you bought one. On a whim.
That was a bad idea. You know that it is true. You should have done your research. But the chair is already in your possession. So what should you do?
Before you even decide to return it to the store, check out first if the chair is indeed the best one for your health issues. Don’t take the word of other people. It is not about trust. It is about personalization. You see, one brand may be suited for your brother and another may be better for you. Just because somebody told you that a certain chair is good for their back, it means it is the best for yours.
Certain guidelines must be followed. Of course, you don’t have time to know what these guidelines are. You are a busy person. We know that, the very reason why the guide questions below have been provided. It is easier this way, right? Without further ado, here the guidelines for the chairs for back pain.
- Does your chair have lumbar support?
Lumbar support should be part of chairs what aim to lessen back pain. If you take a look at office chairs for back pain, you would notice that most of them have some sort of curved back that hugs to the natural curves of your back.
Now, if you made a mistake of buying a tall office chair without this support, it is not time to return just yet. You can still put a cushion between your lower back curvature and the chair.
- Does it have an armrest?
If you think that arm rest is just created so you can rest your arms when not typing or doing anything while sitting, then, think again. The armrest is there to assist the weight of the upper body while you are sitting, not while you are just sitting and not working. Without the armrest, you risk injuring your neck, shoulders and arm muscles. This would just aggravate your condition by adding to your pains.
These two guide questions are the two most important parts of determining whether you have indeed bought the chair best for your condition. Choosing does not just require looking at a chair. You need to test it to see for yourself if the chair is indeed suitable for your needs, and that includes addressing your back pain issues, among others.
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.
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.
With so many different ergonomic chairs on the market today, from Office Star and Jobri to BOSS and ergoCentric chairs, finding the right seating choice for your specific needs can be difficult. Ergonomics are certainly not a one-size-fits-all approach. An ergonomically designed work chair should be able to conform to your height, weight, and body type, and also be appropriate for your line of work and professional environment. A tall and heavyset man will probably need a different ergonomic design than a short and petite woman, just as an IT professional will probably need a different office chair than a laboratory technician. With so many different factors to consider, how does one find the right work chair? The following information should help.
Why are Ergonomics so Important?
Ergonomic design is a multidisciplinary field of science that considers various human factors with the goal of designing furniture, equipment, and tools that complement the human body and mind, ideally resulting in more productive workplaces and happier, healthier workers. The way people sit is a very important part of this. Sitting is not as sedentary of a position as one may assume. When a worker in any given field sits in a chair all day (or for a large chunk of their workday), they are also engaging in activities in that chair, which are all influenced by the way that worker engages with their surroundings – especially their chair. The following video is by Allseating a chair manufacturer that describes the cores needs in building your ergonomic workstation.
What Makes a Suitable Work Chair?
If you’re shopping for ergonomic chairs, the most important human factors to consider are the body dimensions of the individual who will be sitting in each chair. And this means all the body dimensions. An ill-fitting chair might be ideal for someone’s height, but not appropriate for their weight and body type, for example. This can lead to stress and strain, and ultimately injury, which could in turn leave a worker unable to work and an employer in hot water. There are other factors to consider, such as the costs of repairs and maintenance, in addition to the initial costs of purchasing the chairs. Avoiding repetitive stress injuries is worth the investment, but not if the company goes into the red from the costs of owning the chairs. Luckily, many manufacturers make some very affordable models that are also high in quality. The following video is for the ergoCentric Geocentric petite ready chair.
It All Comes Down to Body Type
Make sure to gather information about the heights of employees before purchasing new ergonomic chairs for the whole office. An ideal work chair will be roughly a quarter of the user’s height. While most employees doing similar jobs will probably be comfortable in similar or identical chairs as long as the seat and armrests are adjustable, there will also probably be a few outliers who will have special ergonomic needs and require somewhat different chairs. No one should be punished for being uncommonly short or tall, having a long torso or unusually sized limbs, or being otherwise out of the norm. To avoid repetitive stress injuries and find the ergonomic chairs with the best value, consider body type first.
Admit it or not, you spend most of your days awake- and during those times, you spend more than half sitting. You sit while working on your laptop. You sit while eating. You sit while listening to your boss in a conference. With all those sitting, you are bound to develop health issues, particularly in the back area. To prevent injuries from sitting for a long time, you need to choose the right kind of chair. For many, this means buying ergonomic chairs. What’s all the fuss about ergonomic chairs? Injuries are a no-no. If you sit all day, you tend to develop them over time. Ergonomic chairs try to prevent these injuries from happening. This, in turn, increases your productivity since you are not bothered about aches and pains while working. Your focus is only in your work. Ergonomic chairs are often adjustable. That said, these still allow support for various sitting positions during work. Most tasks where sitting is involved require repetition. Add awkward postures in the mix and you have a recipe for back pain.
What makes the ergonomic chair differs from the rest? The idea of sitting on an ergonomic chair is something like this: It is not about you just sitting on a chair; it is about the chair doing its job of sitting you comfortably on it. By using this kind of chair gives a positive impact on you in general, your productivity and health. That said, the chair should fit your body dimensions as well as the nature of tasks done while sitting on the said chair. Ergonomic chairs are not just about preventing risks; it is also about comfort. The more comfortable you are seated in a particular chair, the better your work performance. It is as simple as that.
What to look for in an ergonomic chair
The chair is predominantly the first thing that comes to mind when you feel discomfort during work time. For OSHA, you need to focus on these four chair parts to ensure that you are seated in a safer and better position:
Don’t Forget the Armrest
You need proper support for the arms since these carry 10% of your body weight. Incorrect armrest position leads to muscle fatigue particularly in the back, shoulders and neck areas. This means the armrests should not be too high, too low or too close to the neck. This should also allow you to move naturally.
What to look for
- Adjustable armrests – This means the arm caps are movable.
- You can move them closer to your body or farther from it when necessary.
- The armrests can also be moved vertically to suit how high or low you want your elbows and arms to rest on it.
- Padded armrests – These reduce contact stress.
- Soft edges – These reduce the chances of you being injured because of the sharp edges.
What to avoid
- Chairs that you don’t feel relaxed sitting on – This means the chair should not be too wide, too narrow or too high.
- Chairs that have a hard material that can irritate the skin.
The Quest for the Right Backrest
The back is normally has an S-curved shape. The backrest should mold that curve to ensure that the sitter is comfortable. A slightly reclined chair is recommended. Incorrect support can lead to slouching and lower back pain. What to look for
- Wide backrest - The backrest should be about 12-19 inches across.
- Adjustable – This means that you can adjust it backward, forward, upward and downward. Note: There should be a locking device that secures the appropriate angle preferred.
- Reclining options – You should be able to recline to your preferred position. Note: There should be a locking device that secures the appropriate angle preferred.
What to avoid
- Fixed support - Ergonomic chairs come in different sizes and styles. You should avoid this for it might not support your back the way it should be.
Don’t Be a Deadman with Your Seat Pan
Ergonomic chairs allow even weight distribution that results to better sitting comfort. The requirements given by HFES 100, one of the leading ergonomic organizations, state that:
- The seat base should be at least 17.7 inches
- The seat depth should be less than or equal to 16.9 inches
- The seat can be tilted at least at 4 degrees and it should include 3 degrees tilted backwards
What to look for
- Width – Look for the ones that provide at least one inch space on each side.
- Waterfall design – This a front feature reduces the pressure on the back of the knees that can lead to poor circulation. Also consider the depth of the seat pan.
- Adjustability – You would be able to adjust how tilted you want the seat pan for comfort.
What to avoid
- Fixed seat height – Incorrect height of the seat pan can lead to more pressure on the buttocks or poor circulation.
Don’t Forget to Embrace Your Base
Many overlook this part of the chair, the reason why this is included in this list. The base supports the whole chair. There should be emphasis on the material and strength of the chair for that matter.
What to look for
- The number of legs – Five is the most appropriate because it evenly distributes the weight of the sitter and the chair on the floor.
- Casters – There are various types of casters. You can choose from plastic down to metals. Each material is suitable for a specific flooring.
What to avoid
- Chairs that tilt – this means that you might have difficulty in the balance while sitting on this type of chair.
If you want to go all the way in an ergonomic sense, you should follow this ergonomic seating guide to make your choice much easier. Ergonomic chairs can come in different styles and designs. Choosing one can be hard but you have this guide to help you narrow down your choices.
- Adjustable armrests – This means the arm caps are movable.