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Did you know that leaning forward 30 degrees in an attempt to get closer to a computer screen puts three to four times more strain on the back? If not, you likely aren't alone: at least 50% of working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms every year. More importantly, these Americans spend at least an estimated $50 billion treating their back pain each year. While there are many things that can cause back pain, if you find yourself shifting positions while sitting in your cheap office chair, and feeling tension and pain in your back at the end of the day, it may be time to switch to a chair better designed to support your body, such as mesh back office chairs.
There are currently an estimated 3,805 office furniture manufacturing businesses located in the United States. Between them, they employ an estimated 109,081 people and are continuing to grow: from 2009 to 2014, the office manufacturing industry grew by an estimated 2.0% every year. However, out of the many products these companies produce, most of their offices stools and chairs are not sufficiently supportive to ease or prevent a person from developing back pain. For example, most office chairs have armrests, which encourage a person to adopt a slouching position, whereas an office chair without arms naturally encourages a person to sit upright. According to the National Institute of Health, if the chair has armrests, office chairs for back pain treatment need to have an adjustable height and width. Likewise, the NIH recommends that a lumbar support cushion be properly placed behind the small of the back to help accentuate lumbar support.
Because adequate lumbar support is the most important factor in ergonomic chairs for back pain treatment, mesh back office chairs are also a great way to help support your body during your work day. Because the mesh is a yielding rather than a flat surface, it helps cradle your body and creates support for your lower back without creating tension. So if you have back pain, don't suffer through another day at work: search for a better office chair with adequate back support today.
Finding the best office chair is important, since you’ll spend many hours working from it. Unless you have an ergonomist on call, it may be difficult to find a proper fitting chair for your body. The right office chair for you should:
- Support your body uniformly
- Allow for ease of movement
- Be easily adjustable
- Provide comfort in the long term
- Help you in maintaining your posture
Office chairs are available in many sizes and shapes. Consider these tips before you buy your new office chair.
Depth of Seat
Seat depth is essential to your overall comfort. If the seat is not large enough, it won’t give you enough support. If it’s too big, it will place pressure on the backs of your knees, causing discomfort. While sitting, measure the distance from the backrest to the back of your knee. There should be 2-3 fingers or roughly 1.5 inches between your knee back and the edge of the seat.
Height of Seat
Your new chair should let you sit comfortably with your feet flat against the floor, with a 90-degree knee bend angle. Proper seat height will achieve this. Measure the height from the crease at the back of your knee to the floor. Consider the types of footwear you usually wear to work. You will have about four inches of adjustment in a cylinder. Special ergonomic chairs may have an option for different cylinder height, which is helpful if you’re short or tall.
Computer users today often experience shoulder and neck pain if their arms are unsupported and elevated. Armrests support your shoulder and neck muscles, but they can also limit your access to the desk or keyboard. Armrests work best when they are at the same height as your resting elbow height.
The backrest shape should follow your back’s natural curve. Office chairs with “S” shaped backs do this well. Adjustable back rests or those with lumbar support will allow you to position the backrest to support your spine. A taller back will fully support your neck and shoulders.
Width of Seat
The seat cushions must support your frame in width and depth. A cushion that’s too small won’t give full support. One that’s too large will not allow comfortable use of your armrests. Check to be sure that the distance between the armrests isn’t too wide or too narrow.
Obviously, most cheap office chairs don't come with a headrest, but surprisingly, even though they offer several benefits, neither do many of the best ergonomic office chairs. Headrests allow you to take small breaks to rest your neck and head, which can prevent tension headaches. What's more, office chair headrests also increase the amount of seating postures and positions one can take.
However, most people's working positions don't often require a headrest for office chairs, which is why many manufacturers choose not to offer office chair headrests with their seats. Of course, that doesn't mean you couldn't use one. You just usually have to buy an office chair headrest separately.
Of course, this means you have to go out and look for one. So, here are a few tips on how to find the perfect headrest!
It Should Be Adjustable
An office chair headrest needs to have height adjustability, as well as in and out adjustability -- meaning it should be able to lean forward or back with you. Your office chair headrest shouldn't be designed for constant contact, but rather should be there for when you need it or want it. If it pushes your head forward, then it's going to cause problems and stain your neck and back.
Consider the Chair You'll Be Attaching It To
Even if you can adjust your office chair headrest every which way, if the back of your chair is too high on you, then you'll get no use out of it. A good way to tell if you can fit a headrest comfortably on your chair is to see if the backrest at least ends at your neck. Any higher, and you'll have some problems.
Check the Product Description
Checking the product description will allow you to see the headrest's measurements and whether or not it's adjustable. If the price seems like it's too good to be true, then chances are it is, since it likely lacks the adjustability you'll need.
If you follow these tips, you'll be able to find a headrest that works perfectly for you, but if you ignore them, you may waste your money on something that only makes you more uncomfortable. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.
If you don’t build your office chair correctly, then obviously it’s not going to be very comfortable, nor will it last very long, either. It’s so important to construct the chair properly, in fact, that the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that people follow their instruction manuals to a T if they want to maintain their chairs’ safety and ergonomic effect.
What’s not so obvious, though, is that office chairs need to be properly serviced, having all of their parts and equipment checked once every six months as recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
It might sound like a tricky chore, but don’t worry. It’s not as difficult as it seems. Here are the things you need to check out to make sure that your office chair is just as ergonomic as it was the day you bought and assembled it.
Office chairs typically come with a tension control that allows each user to adjust the chair to a position that better compensates for their body weight. For a smooth tilt motion that’s also controlled, it’s important to check and make sure that this control is properly adjusted. When someone sits down, the chair should smoothly tilt--so make sure that it still does during your inspection.
2. Ideal Settings.
Each person has their own settings that are ideal for them, because each person has a different height, weight, and build. What might be most comfortable for one person, isn’t nearly as comfortable for the next. To make sure a chair is still as ergonomic as it can be, make sure that each of the settings can still be adjusted.
If the chair is ergonomically correct, the person sitting should have their fit flat against the ground and their thighs parallel to the floor. To correct this during the check, just adjust the chair’s height until the settings are right.
4. Height and Lumbar.
The lumbar region of the back is the lower portion where the spine naturally curves out. Many office chairs lack lumbar support, making the spine lose its natural S-shape. This causes several issues. It puts undue stress on the lower back, while forcing the spine to take an unnatural shape, resulting in pain and discomfort. If the chair is in proper ergonomic condition, the lower back should will come into direct contact with the lumbar support.
Casters are the small wheels on the end of each of the base’s feet. The best ergonomic chairs will have five different feet, complete with a caster on each. This ensures that weight is spread out proportionally, and also allows the user to move freely. If even one of the casters is broken or missing, it will throw the balance of the chair off, forcing its occupant to sit in an awkward, unnatural position.
There’s a reason why the office furniture manufacturing industry generates over $23 billion a year in annual revenue. It’s because these ergonomic chairs effectively make offices more comfortable to work in, eliminating the aches and pains that result from sitting unnaturally. If you want your chair to remain as comfortable and ergonomic as possible--if you want to get the most out of it--then you’ve got to check it for these five things twice a year.
Let's face it -- that cheap office chair isn't doing your back any favors. The difference between the best ergonomic office chairs for back pain and that awful, cheap office chair is that the best ergonomic chairs are designed to support your back's natural curvature. Without that support, most office workers like yourself wind up hunching over or sitting in an awkward, unnatural posture that immediately causes myriad issues, and could even lead to chronic pain and spinal misalignment.
Thankfully, physical therapists have some advice that can alleviate those cheap office chair pains. Here are just a few pointers.
Adjust Your Mouse and Keyboard.
Your arms should be relaxed and resting at your side with your elbows bent to about 90 to 110 degrees. Your wrists and hands both need to be slightly flexed (as though you were playing the piano) or in a neutral position. Place your keyboard so that the "B" key is directly in front of your chest, which helps center it for the most ergonomic positioning.
Even though your cheap office chair will never be as comfy as an ergonomic alternative, you can still sit in a way that will prevent pain and discomfort. Be mindful of how you're sitting. Don't hunch over. Adjust your chair to the right height, so that your eyes look straight at the top third of your monitor.
Get Up Every Now and Then.
Get up out of that cheap office chair at least once an hour. Go to the bathroom, get a cup of coffee, or start a food fight in the break room -- it doesn't matter what you get up to do so long as you're up and moving about for a bit. If you're not bashful, you should stretch, too. When the shoulders are rounded, the chest muscles tighten. Go to a corner and place a hand on each wall as though you were raising them for school. Stretch this way for about 20 seconds.
If you're mindful of these tips, that cheap office chair won't be such a nasty problem. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.