Having a comfortable work setting is crucial in order to ensure a productive work environment as well as avoiding both minor and serious health issues. It is important to make sure both the work station set up and your office chair are contributing to your overall happiness and relaxation at work. Pains and aches throughout the day make work go by much slower and can have a negative affect on your overall mood. This can also lead to loss in productivity and missed days of work. Some office chairs are not properly designed to meet the needs of your body shape and can lead to back pain and other related problems. If you don’t have $1,000 in your budget to purchase a great office chair, as most of us don’t, fear not because it is possible to find a viable option for a considerable price. There are a few steps one could take in order to start their quest for a new comfortable yet inexpensive office chair, it just takes time, patience and a good attitude; remember you could be on your way to working comfortably all day!
The first step to take in the road to a better more affordable office chair is to start by researching different office chair options available; there are thousands of different office chairs out there but which is right for you? Many office chair websites, such as our own Sitbetter.com, offer specialized categories which can help you find a place to start looking. You can also make a note of a chair you find comfortable when visiting friends, family, or client’s offices and look for comparable items. Many chairs are or have replicas that are much lower in price, and the differences between the real and the replica sometimes just come down to the name of the brand! You will also need to determine your budget and sort between chairs in that price range.
Once you have your budget figured out, it is essential to identify the key ergonomic features you will want in your office chair. Some features you maybe looking for are the overall height of the chair, the shape and contour of the back rest, the type of arm rests and whether the chair swivels or is fixed in place. Other features you may want to think about including in your search are ergonomic functions such as seat height, back height, knee tilt, moveable arm rests, a seat slider, a ratchet back, and built in lumbar support. You will also need to consider the nature of your work; do you work in a call center sitting in a chair 12 hours a day or do you work from home 3-4 hours a day? You will also need to factor in your height and your weight, if you are under 5’3″ you may want to opt for a petite office chair in order to fit your body or conversely if you are 6’4″ you will want to look into a big and tall chair to support you. Your chair will need to fit into your pre-exisitng color scheme where you will be using it, so look into similar chair colors as what you already have going on.
Narrow your selection to 5-10 chairs that will satisfy your basic criteria. Compare the chairs side by side to determine which will be the best value for the price you will pay by looking at what they have to offer such as material, adjustments, style, and price point. A high back executive chair with a head rest and knee tilt mechanism may be on the high end of your budget, while a mid back mesh chair will be less expensive but also less durable in the long-haul. A vinyl or caressoft office chair makes a good alternative to a leather chair when price is concerned and look strikingly similar and have relatively the same comfort if material is not an issue to you. Similarly with fabric chairs there are many different grades and colors that are more expensive than others, so if you are on a tight budget constraint stick with the lower grade fabrics that are still designed for 40 hour a week usage.
When choosing among your final few choices, it comes to the point where you will need to determine which factors in your office chair’s design are the most important to you. If you are purchasing the chair for yourself then you may be able to forget about the height adjustment feature and opt for a nicer more durable material. If you already have a lot of back pain from previous chairs look for a high back chair with a headrest that will give you plenty of lumbar support as opposed to a low back chair that will not offer full back support. If you are purchasing several chairs get a combination of mid-back and high-back chairs to accommodate varying heights. Every chair purchase is entirely dependent on who the purchaser is and what needs they need met. There is no one universal chair solution which is the beauty of being able to sort and choose between thousands of chairs online to find the right fit for you.
To find the right chair for your needs, click here to browse our online catalog of over a thousand different chair options for all budgets!
Note: We are not licensed back pain specialists, but we are experts in using our products to help alleviate forms of back pain. Use this knowledge in concordance with your doctor or back care specialist’s recommendations.
When diagnosing the chairs or back support items that would be best for an individual, it is best to understand how severe a person’s back pain is. To simplify matters, we classify back pain into three levels: mild, medium, and severe back pain. Mild can be described as slight pain – not any which would prevent you from sitting in your chair but where you would feel slight discomfort from time to time. Mild lumbar issues or upper shoulder discomfort are the most common mild back pain symptoms. Medium back pain is pain that requires you to get up from time to time, and re-adjust your posture. It prevents you from sitting more than 2 hours at a time on a non-ergonomic chair. Severe back pain is usually diagnosed by a chiropractor or a physician, and requires special ergonomic seating arrangements. It can be best described as constant mild pain consistently throughout the day, with flare ups in pain throughout the day.
Mild Back Pain Relief using Ergonomics
Relieving mild back pain can be as simple as training the muscles around the aggravated area to support the surrounding weaker back area, or getting a good chair. The former requires alternate sitting chairs, such as the Evolution Chair by Posture Perfect, the Kore Stool, or the Saddle Stool by Office Star. As you may have noticed, all three of these items have no backrest. While this may seem counterproductive to the issue at hand, by removing the backrest, you are forcing yourself into adopting the proper posture – thus forcing your muscles learning how to sit in this position. Remembering to sit in the proper position is key – in your initial use of these alternative sitting chairs, you may lapse in posture, but as your use of the products increases, it will become second nature. This will not only help your back but also help your overall posture while you are walking, standing and in any other position you should find yourself. There are a few key items to remember about alternative sitting chairs. The first is that your body will not be used to sitting is these chairs for an extended period of time – they are different. You will most likely be sore in various areas of your back as well, again, because they are not used to the posture. To reduce these issues, it is recommended you follow a gradual acclimation schedule, i.e. use the chair for half an hour the first day, and each day add 15 minutes until you can comfortable use the chair as your main seating utensil.
If you are not inclined to use alternative seating, then there are various things you should be looking for in a chair to relieve mild back pain. You can generally get away with any chair, but looking for a few key variables will help. A good initial feature to look for is a passive lumbar support. This means the chair should have lumbar support built in to the frame, meaning it should have an S-shaped backrest, which conforms to the S shape of your spine. By having a chair that has such contour, your back should fit well into the chair. By fitting well into the chair, you’ll be getting support at all the crucial points of your back, including the lumbar and the upper back – the two common mild back pain areas. A third, more conventional way of relieving mild back pain, specifically in the lumbar region, is with the use of an add-on product, such as the Jobri Large Half-Roll Lumbar Support. A product such as this will provide additional lumbar support to the desired region. Mild back pain relief is relatively easy to deal with and is easy to overcome. As with any person with back pain, we always recommend taking breaks from your desk to walk around and give your muscles a chance to relax.
Medium Back Pain Relief Using Ergonomics
Medium back pain is where a truly ergonomic chair should be considered. Sitting in a standard office chair, with minimal back support, will not help alleviate the issues leading to medium back pain, and most times, will certainly aggravate the problem areas as well. Once you experience medium back pain, it is important to understand that generic chairs will not suffice. A good ergonomic chair will run you at least four hundred dollars, depending on the features you select, but will last you for a lifetime. Considering that medium back pain is never an issue solved overnight, having a good chair will be a big relief over the long term. Many times, medium back pain can be solved with a good ergonomic chair and re-addressing the posture and workstation of the pain sufferer. Outfitting your desk with a monitor arm and a keyboard tray, along with a chair such as Allseating’s CPOD, is a simple enough solution. Enjoying the correct posture at your desk is critical as it reduces the strain that is placed on your aggravated back muscles. The proper posture, then, is defined simply as sitting right, not necessarily upright, but where one’s lower back is flush with the lower back of the backrest, ensuring a full range of back support. The keyboard tray allows the keyboard to be operated from a lower angle, reducing the wrist strain, and the monitor arm encourages the user to have the monitor at the proper eye level. For more information and tips on how to make your workstation ergonomic, regardless of the computer set up you may have, click here!
Severe Back Pain Relief Using Ergonomics
For severe back pain, we recommend only a few chairs that are designed to be perfectly accommodating to the users back. The first is a company called ergoCentric, whom specializes in making chairs that have uniquely accommodating features for specific size users. In other words, you can get one chair specifically built for a person that is 6’8″, 245 lbs, and then get that exact same style of chair for a person that is 5’3″, 125 lbs. All of their chair models come with a plethora of customization options, which allows for getting unique chairs per user. For back pain, this simply means that you can have a chair built to your specifications, which in turn allows specific, customized back pain relief based on the person’s body build. Another very unique chair that was built for back pain is the Verte Chair, by RFM. Critically acclaimed for its unique looks as much as its comfort, the chair features a spine like backrest – each individual “vertebrae” adjusts to provide specific pressure on the users back at the exact points needed. The idea behind the chair is not revolutionary – providing support to areas that need it is a common function of more basic ergonomic chairs – but the idea that the user can be supported on all or most points of their back is.
In short, severe back pain is not a trifling issue. There are companies that specialize on making seating solutions for these purposes and having the right posture and right support is a critical step towards achieving back pain relief on any level. If you need help or suggestions on choosing a chair for back pain, be sure to contact our chair experts for a free consultation and chair recommendations!
About two months ago I woke up numerous times throughout the night. My left shoulder, the lower part of the deltoid to be more specific, was aching quite a bit; sharp shooting pains. Being an athlete, I thought I’d just strained it at the gym or the softball field. The next morning I had breakfast, popped a couple of ibuprofens and soon the pain dissipated to a slight ache. Over the course of the next couple weeks, I continued this routine nearly every day. Eventually, I began taking ibuprofen before going to sleep, but I was still waking up during the night with sharp cutting pains. Those weeks of pain multiplied into two months.
The denial that I’d done some damage was reinforced frequently. The pain wasn’t constant and only occurred when my arm moved to a particular position. I could still throw a softball; actually my throw had become more accurate. I couldn’t lift as much weight on my right side at the gym though, and being that I’m not a person who enjoys sitting on a bike or running on a treadmill, my workouts became sporadic. My rationale? I probably just needed a break from the gym.
The pain was still there though, and it was getting worse.
I went to see a physical therapist. We talked about a number of different situations and it came down to the chair I was using. Yeah, I know, I work for Sitbetter, so you’d think I’d know better. And, no, it isn’t my chair at the office but my chair at home. The one in my home office, where I sit to pay my bills, respond to personal emails, to chat with family and friends, journal, and to do research.
My favorite ergonomic chair is the Infinity Series Mesh Back Chair (EMC-11), so I ordered it. It comes with free shipping and should get here in two days. It has some great adjustments, like a two-way adjustable lumbar, adjustable arms, a 2:1 syncro knee tilt locking mechanism and a breathable black Mesh.
On Wednesday of next week, I start doing exercises with some rubber bands; different colors with different tensions. I can’t even begin to tell you what exercising with rubber bands is going to do for my ego, but I have the right chair in my home office, and according to my physical therapist, “You just need to ‘sit better’ at home.” Her words, not mine.
So you don’t have much money to buy a Aeron, or Leap chair, or some other “name” chair…50% of the cost of those chairs is the brand. You’re paying for the brand – not to say that these chairs aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, but simply saying that if you cannot afford them, there ARE options out there to get yourself a comfortable chair at a comfortable price.
Now before you think this is a rag on high priced chairs, let me say this: The majority are actually very comfortable, and do justify their price tag. The majority. But let’s face it, this isn’t exactly the best time to part with $1000.000 for a chair. (Idea: You know all those banks that went broke, well, I know for a fact they spent lots o’ cash on pricey chairs…maybe you can pick one up on Craigslist for free…)
Anyways, here few resources we put together on the site here to answer your call -See our recommended chairs for back pain here; also see our entire selection of ergonomic chairs here (you can use the advanced browse to narrow your options…)-. Most chairs from Office Star, Matrex series, are also relatively comfortable. If you are looking for a good leather chair that is relatively ergonomic, look at the Mayline 9414. It’s got some nice ergo features, including an inflatable lumbar, and the leather is nice. Mayline is a very reputable company too, albeit shipping it takes longer than we like.
Other, less expensive options to give you back pain relief can come in the form of some accessories. Asprin, for one. We like Aleve (registered trademark of a large, wealthy company). Bayer is good too, though cause it gives you heart health as well. The ticker is important. But take a look at products from companies like ObusForme, which are independent back support cushions. Companies like these manufacturer products focused on providing support for the back. They do the research. We try the stuff out, which is why we endorse it. These cushions are made to fit the backrest of any chair, and could be the solution your lumbar needs.
So these are less expensive options for your current chair, which could end up being the solution you need. Also remember to stretch often and move around often. Cool? Cool.
This is my painful area when sitting down. Doesn’t flare up all the time, but sometimes. So I have to be real careful as to what chairs I choose. I normally need an adjustable lumbar support, that pushes into my lumbar region, into the concave of my lower back.
What do I do to prevent recurring back pain? I get up and stretch a little bit more than normal. People may think I’m strange, but I’d rather be strange than hurting. Also, I have a keyboard tray and monitor arm, as well as the aforementioned chair with adjustable active lumbar support. (It is actually mesh back, but that is really a personal preference.) For me, the deal breaker is lumbar support. If you have upper back issues, that’s a different story. For some chairs that I have tried out and do recommend, check out our back pain page…Tried and true.
FYI, I have not tried the inflatable lumbar supports, such as in the MAY9414AG, however, we have had clients that do love it. (We are getting a sample in this week, so I will be trying it soon.) Check out our editors review on it next week.
Rock on, sit right.