Ever been in the market for an office chair? Received the quote for your choice of chair and been gob smacked by the price, so you rather popped in at your local supermarket and bought a cheaper version?
Back pain is an all too common medical complaint in modern society. Much research has gone into the ergonomics of correct seating. Surprisingly, or not, it has been found that back pain increases when people work for prolonged hours sitting at their desk.
Ergonomics are important, but some manufacturers mistakenly think that if they produce desks that are at the correct height so that arm positions and hands are in the optimal position for typing that inexpensive office chair designs would be forgiven. Wrong.
You may be thinking “What about chairs affects your health while working?” Well, it's all about the back, upper and lower. The correct chair provides proper lumbar and pelvic support, which results in your back muscles being less stressed. Unfortunately, many chairs do not offer adequate support and that combined with long durations of sitting at a desk, result in extreme medical expenses related to lower back pain. Studies have proved, the more we sit, the higher our risk of herniated discs and other back problems.
Studies have also shown that slouching and similar seated postures can cause upper back pain, shoulder strain, headaches, fatigue and poor concentration. What is a healthy posture? It is when the spine is properly aligned to promote greater overall comfort and assists with improved concentration and endurance through long hours of seated task work.
The key to this healthy posture is lumbar and pelvic support as previously mentioned, lumbar support alone is not enough. Too many office chairs that are branded as ergonomic chairs are designed with only lumbar support in mind because they are based on work patterns of office workers before the computer gained the dominance that is has today. For many of us, almost all of our work involves staring and interacting with a computer and this was not the case 20 or so years ago.
It is certainly worth investing in quality seating. First and foremost, the chair should fit the operator and then the task. How the chair looks is not as immediately important, but the style is probably one of the key criteria for many end-users.
So what are the features and functionality of a great ergonomic office chair to look out for?
- Lumbar support - Proper lumbar support can reduce the incidence of lower back pain, which has reached epidemic proportions in most of the western world.
- Adjustability - You should be able to adjust the height of the chair and the back angle to suit your individual height, weight and build.
- Castors - The ability to move freely will reduce the need to twist and turn, especially if you work at a larger desk and you need to reach items without overstretching.
- Arm rests - Adjustable armrests are useful to take the weight of your arms, especially if you're sitting down for long periods.
- Head rest - A head rest can encourage improved posture by supporting your head and neck.
An aligned posture allows for better breathing, less fatigue and alleviation from back pain, so do yourself a favour and give your work chair a good hard look and see how it measures up.