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Sitbetter Chair Blog
We are all guilty of being glued to our computers and smartphones at the office. We work for hours on end, sitting in front of the glow of the screen without taking a break. When a person spends hours in one position working, they are not just hurting their physical health, but also their mental wellbeing. If you aren’t “taking five” at work periodically or even taking lunch breaks, here are a few reasons why you need to start doing so.
The Health Issue
Sitting for hours at a time isn’t good for the body. While you can buy a chair that is designed for maximum comfort for long workdays, you still need to get up and move around for your health. Just like on long plane flights, you need to move around for better circulation. Poor blood flow will only cause aches and pains in the body.
It might sound like a break won’t help with getting the job done. However, if you work for hours on end without a break, you might hit a few brick walls in the process. Breaks are key for actually getting things done. You become more productive if you take five minutes away from your job so the body and mind can refresh and tackle the task at hand.
Less Fatigue and Exhaustion
Our jobs can make us tired, especially we if never take a break from them. In today’s digital age, it can be difficult to unplug from the office. However, if you don’t get your mind and body away from your desk, you will only grow more fatigued and exhausted. Exhaustion can lead to other health problems down the road.
Jobs are stressful. We have deadlines to meet and tasks to accomplish. If you sit all day focusing on these tasks, your stress levels will build up. The mind and body need a break from work to avoid getting too stressed about projects, meetings, and to-do lists. Stress isn’t just mental, either. It can lead to physical health problems.
Recharge Internal Resources
When you don’t take breaks at work, your mind can never really recharge from the work you are doing. You need to detach yourself from work to recharge those batteries again. Walking around or simply taking a lunch break helps the cognitive resources to recharge.
Focus on the Big Picture
Many of us are guilty of getting lost in our work. We fail to see the big picture as a result. When you don’t take a break at work, you can lose perspective. Your relationships outside of the office can suffer, in addition to your health. A break at work helps you to see the bigger picture beyond the computer screen.
You might be working hard all day at your job, but that work isn’t always the best. Your product can suffer when you don’t take breaks. Fatigue can cause mistakes and errors that could be threatening to your job. Breaks allow you to catch mistakes more easily and produce a better product.
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.
Home office and workplace ergonomics are incredibly important considerations. While it might not seem like improper posture or sitting the wrong way in front of your computer could damage your health, the fact is that you can suffer some serious injuries over time, as noted by the University of Connecticut. What conditions might you suffer if you don’t practice good posture and ergonomics? Here’s a closer look.
Ergonomic and Posture-Related Health Disorders
All ergonomic and posture-related health disorders are technically musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). MSDs fall into a broad range of categories and conditions. Depending on the length of time you spend sitting, and just how poor your posture or position is, you might find yourself afflicted by any of the following:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – A condition in which the tendons running through the arms, wrists and hands are inflamed, making most common hand and wrist movements painful
- Tendinitis – A condition in which tendons become inflamed; it generally afflicts the arms and elbows, but can be present in other parts of the body as well
- Bursitis – Swelling and inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs between joints, tendons and muscles. It can afflict virtually any area of the body
- Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – This condition includes a weakened grip, pain in the neck, and often tingling or numbness in the fingers
- Chronic pain in the neck, upper back, lower back, shoulders and arms
Each of these conditions can cause serious discomfort and pain, and they can lead to significant time lost from work as well as medical expenses. In severe cases, some may require surgery to correct. For instance, severe carpal tunnel syndrome cannot be alleviated by using wrist braces alone, but may require surgical intervention to eliminate the problem.
How Do You Avoid These Conditions?
Obviously, avoiding and minimizing the conditions listed above is in the best interests of both the employee and the employer. Thankfully, it’s not that difficult to get around those problems. All it really requires is following the right ergonomic practices within the workplace. Good workplace ergonomics can vary from one position to another, most of the time workers will need the right office chair, the right desk and the right computer setup to provide good posture and eliminate strain on muscles, joints and tendons. An ergonomic office chair should offer:
- Good neck support, either through a built-in headrest or a high back, which is particularly important for those who spend multiple hours each day seated in the chair
- Good lumbar support to ease the strain and discomfort on the lower back – lumbar support can come in the form or an adjustable position via a lever or through additional lumbar padding
- Armrests should be adjustable and padded to ensure that the worker is comfortable and can position the armrests so there is no strain placed on the shoulders
- Adjustable height so that the employee can adjust the seat’s height to allow them to sit with their feet flat on the floor, rather than angled or above the floor
Proper ergonomics in the workplace can improve the health of workers, save money on medical bills, and reduce lost time and productivity for the employer. Sources: http://www.oehc.uchc.edu/ergo_officeergo2.asp
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.
Posture – it’s one of those things that we’ve all heard about, but a surprising many know little of. However, for all that it can be difficult to define without heading to your nearest dictionary, it’s an incredibly important consideration in the workplace, particularly for office workers. Good posture helps prevent the development of serious musculoskeletal disorders, prevents muscle strain and more. What should you know about correct posture, though? Read on to learn more.
One of the most important elements of good posture is spine support. When sitting down, your natural inclination is probably to lean forward and rest your weight on the arms of the chair. That’s wrong, and it will lead to serious lower back pain, as well as strain on the muscles and tendons in the arms (especially if you do that while trying to type).
The right type of spinal support is important. The best option is to invest in a quality office chair with a good back (featuring plenty of lumbar support) that follows the natural curvature of the spine. Make sure your feet sit flat on the floor and don’t hang. You should also have maximum contact between your back and the back of the chair without it affecting your ability to type. If your chair has armrests, they should be positioned so that your arms are even with the top of the desk and there’s no shoulder strain present.
Even if your chair has a built-in headrest, chances are good it’s not going to be used unless you’re leaning back (you’re inactive). That means it’s important you practice good neck posture. Ideally, your neck will be in a neutral position (not forcing it forward, back or to the side). The computer monitor should be just below eye level, so you can look at it while maintaining the right position. Your monitor should also be at least 20 inches from your face (a maximum of about 36 inches).
Position everything in your work area so that you can reach it or see it without having to turn your head. This will help you keep your neck in the proper position and avoid straining muscles.
The Importance of a Quality Office Chair
Part of good posture is having the right support for your body throughout the day. In an office environment, that means having a quality office chair. While good chairs do come with a cost, they’re actually more affordable than what you might think, and they’re certainly cheaper than trying to deal with the consequences of carpal tunnel syndrome or chronic lower back pain. A good chair will help support you throughout the day, and should be a “no-brainer” for any office worker (or office manager buying furniture).
With the information above, it should be easier to understand good posture and put it into effect in your daily life. Invest in a good office chair and protect yourself from serious musculoskeletal disorders.