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Sitbetter Chair Blog
Everyone knows that injuries can happen at work. What more people should know is that work-related injuries don't just happen at places like construction sites or because of heavy machinery. Back pain is one of the most commonly reported work-related injuries, but it isn't just caused by trauma or heavy lifting. Back pain and injuries also occur in the office.
Back pain is one of the results of sitting in a cheap office chair that has poor ergonomics. What is most alarming about this is that many jobs require us to sit for extended periods of time and for many days of the week. Without ergonomic computer chairs, a large portion of the American working population is at risk for back pain. Consider the amount of time we spend sitting in the car for a commute and sitting on the couch watching Netflix at home, and it figures that we spend the majority of our time sitting down. It can be tough to avoid sitting at work, though, and not using ergonomic computer chairs can cause more than just back pain.
Poor office ergonomics can also cause pains, injuries, and muscle strain in other parts of our bodies like the neck and legs. Many office workers perform repetitive tasks for many consecutive hours, which can cause rigidity and pain without the proper ergonomic precautions. Strained and rigid muscles are also more prone to further injury. Ergonomic computer chairs can help remedy back pain from sitting for long periods of time because they ease sitting with proper posture.
The best ergonomic chairs have a five point base with casters to prevent tipping and ease movement. Because good posture is essential for avoiding back pain, lower back support is also necessary. The National Institute of Health recommends using a properly placed cushion or lumbar pillow insert. Quality office chairs should also have adjustable features to fit the user's specific and unique size. A sliding seat pan allows the user to adjust the distance from the back rest. Adjustable armrests allow the user to raise or lower them to the perfect height to avoid slouching or straining to use them, and a height adjustable chair allows the user to sit with their feet flat on the floor.
Experts estimate that about 80% of the population will experience back pain at one point in their lives. If you're someone who suffers with back pain, relief may come by simply changing your office chair.
Owning an ergonomic office chair, in place of a regular chair or desk chair, has proven to be incredibly beneficial to one’s health and well-being. At least 50% of working Americans experience back pain on a regular basis, and an ergonomic office chair is designed to provide adequate lumbar support, which not only provides more comfort, but will keep the user from experiencing more back problems down the road. The ergonomic support goes beyond just the back, however. The chair’s other adjustable components also help to increase circulation and alleviate pressure on your spine and joints.
Simply owning an ergonomic office chair will not ensure that it is helping to alleviate any issues. One must adjust the chair to fit the proportions of the individual’s body, in order to maximize both comfort and relief. No two people are alike, and therefore, the individual user must be considered not only when selecting the right office chair, but also when adjusting it before use.
Lumbar Support - The lumbar support is the most important adjustment of your ergonomic chair. The lumbar portion of the spine bears the most body weight, and is therefore most susceptible to injury. Therefore, it is crucial to make sure that one’s lower back is adequately supported. When seated, the chair’s lumbar support should fit comfortably into the curve of your lower back, and your feet should be flat on the ground.
Hips and Knees - Hip and knee joints are areas of problems and discomfort for many people. The best position for both of these joints is if your feet are flat on the floor, and your legs are bent at a 90-degree angle. In this position, your knees should be level with your hips. Make sure to adjust the height of your chair to the appropriate level for this position.
Armrests - Armrests are more than just a place to, well, rest your arms. Armrests are actually meant to take some of the strain off of your upper spine and shoulders, and to make you less likely to slouch forward in your chair. Leaning forward even 30 degrees closer to your computer screen puts three to four times more strain on the back. In an ideal position, your chair should be adjusted so that your elbows are at a 90-degree angle on the armrests. Your armrests should just slightly lift your arms at the shoulders.
Neck Position - If working at an office job or in front of a computer, it’s important to make sure that you are not craning your neck to look at your computer screen. This can lead to discomfort and neck strain. When sitting in your desk chair and looking at your screen, your forward gaze should be at the center of the screen. If your neck is craning up or down, you should adjust the height of your chair.
Lean Back Reclining slightly in your chair transfers your body weight to the chair’s backrest, easing weight off of the vertebrae. Reclining to create a 135-degree angle between the thighs and trunk puts less stress on the ligaments of the spine than sitting upright at 90 degrees or slouching slightly forward. Sitting upright at 90 degrees actually puts the most stress on ligaments of the spine, particularly on the intervertebral discs.
Sitting upright for extending periods of time puts unnecessary stress on the back, increasing the risk of chronic back pain. Even sitting for over six hours a day for a decade or so can cut about seven quality-adjusted years of your life. An ergonomic office chair is the wisest choice you can make for comfort in the workplace, but keep in mind that finding the right chair and adjusting it properly are just as important to the chair’s effectiveness to your overall health and comfort.
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.
Chances are that you already know that the best ergonomic chairs can keep you from feeling sore and achey, but you might be shocked to find out all of the medical issues that these chairs prevent. The best ergonomic chairs can protect you against organ problems, muscle degeneration and leg issues, amongst several other horrifying medical conditions. If you're not already aware, here are some of the medical reasons why you should consider investing in the best ergonomic chairs.
When you sit at your desk for long periods of time, your blood flows more slowly and your muscles don't end up burning as much fat as they should. This creates a situation where fatty acids can clog your heart easily, increasing your risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease to more than twice the amount as those who are more active.
When you sit hunched over a desk all day, you don't use your abdominal muscles, which makes them go soft. This posture also makes your back muscles go taut. This is a deadly combination that can ruin your posture over time, causing a medical condition called hyperlordosis, which exaggerates the spine's natural arch. The best ergonomic chairs help eliminate this risk by correcting your posture as you sit, distributing weight evenly across the appropriate muscles.
Running, walking, and other weight-bearing activities help the hips and bones in the lower body to grow more dense, which makes them stronger. Naturally, a lack of such activities would cause bones to weaken.
The vertebrae have soft, spongelike discs between them that absorb nutrients and fresh blood as we move around. However, sitting hunched over causes these discs to flatten, making it impossible for them to get these vital nutrients. When this happens, collagen coagulates and dries around the supporting ligaments and tendons. The best ergonomic chairs allow these discs to expand more easily, preventing collagen from hardening.
To think that these are only some of the problems that could be prevented. Who would've thought that the best ergonomic office chairs for back pain can help with more than spinal troubles? If you have any questions about the best ergonomic chairs, feel free to ask in the comments.