Googling the term ergonomic chair gives these results:
- Ergonomic executive chair
- Ergonomic chair for back pain
- Ergonomic chair for pain relief
- Ergonomic mesh gaming chair
Unfortunately, the topic and explanation can be so overwhelming for people with no knowledge about this field. For this reason, we will explain the topic in detail, starting with the basics.
Most people are unaware of the possible complications of sitting too long at their desks. As human beings, we are not designed to sit down for long times. Our hunter-gatherer primitive brains are wired to move around all day long.
During the pandemic, a lot of people started working from home, which meant sitting at their desks for long hours. To make matters worse, a bad chair can further exacerbate this issue. You see, the human body and the spine have a unique anatomy that requires a posture chair to make you feel comfortable.
In this article, we will briefly cover the rise in lower back pain cases and how ergonomic chairs can be the solution to this problem.
What is an ergonomic chair?
The word ergonomics refers to a scientific field that focuses on human engineering and biotechnology. The goal of this field is to design objects to best fit human interactions. Safety and ease of use are among the top priorities of ergonomics.
When it comes to ergonomic chairs, for example, they are designed with human anatomy in mind. As a result, they fit the curvature of the spine to provide you with good posture, comfort, and back support.
An office chair back support is just too important to neglect!
What makes a chair ‘Ergonomic’?
Today, the term ergonomic gets thrown at any expensive chair without even realizing what the word represents.
For a chair to be ergonomic, it needs to meet certain criteria that include posture improvement and spine support. We will cover these features in the next section.
For now, you need to learn the proper way of sitting on a chair. If you are not doing it correctly, you might hurt your back even if the chair is ergonomic.
Here’s how to sit properly:
- The top of the computer monitor should be at the level of the eyes.
- Keep an arm’s length from your screen.
- Place your neck in a neutral position to feel relaxed.
- Avoid slouching and sit up straight.
- Make sure your arms are parallel to the floor.
- Put both of your feet on the floor. Ensure they are flat.
- Avoid crossing your legs as it may interfere with your blood circulation.
Fortunately, ergonomic desk chairs are adjustable. Therefore, you can tweak them to make your body meet all the criteria listed above. If you are not the only one using the ergonomic chair, adjustability becomes even more important.
The epidemic of lower back pain
Low back pain is very prevalent in all people. In fact, it represents a leading cause of visits to hospitals and clinics.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), around 4 in 5 people experience low back pain in their lifetime. People in their 30s and 40s are the most susceptible to this condition.
Due to the complexity of spinal anatomy, the diagnosis of low back pain can be tricky. With that said, your doctor will classify your condition as acute if you started exhibiting symptoms less than 3 months. Anything above this timeline, the condition becomes chronic.
The possible complications of sitting long hours on a bad chair
Sitting for long hours on a bad chair can lead to a number of complications, including:
Any injury that affects the back can trigger lower back pain. The structures most commonly affected by this type of injury are:
These structures are subject to microscopic tears, which occur if the pressure applied exceeds acceptable values. This stimulates the pain receptors to send signals to the brain, which leads to sensations of back pain.
When you develop lumbar strains, your first instinct tells you to stay in bed until you feel better. However, the latest guidelines state that prolonged immobility might worsen the situation.
Lumbar radiculopathy, or sciatica, happens when the disks become weak, forcing the soft portions to bulge out.
Sciatica can be treated medically or surgically.
Make sure to get the best chair for long hours of work.
An ergonomic chair for back pain
The market is loaded with ergonomic office chairs. While there is no one best ergonomic chair, you still need to consider many aspects before you buy an ergonomic office chair. Ideally, you would make a list of all the features you want to include in your ergonomic chair, and then start looking for the best fit. Taking this step will allow you to only choose the ergonomic chair that works well for your specific needs.
That brings up our next question: What’s the best office chair for back pain?
In the following section, we will cover the features of a good ergonomic office chair.
What features should a good ergonomic chair have?
Seat width and depth
The seat of your ergonomic chair should have enough width and depth to support your body. The standard width ranges between 43 to 51 centimetres. As for the depth, it needs to accustom your lower body, leaving 2–4 inches between the back of your knees and the seat of the chair.
Being able to adjust the height of your chair is one of the key features of ergonomic chairs. Many manufacturers incorporate a pneumatic adjustment to achieve this goal.
Lumbar support is absolutely crucial for any good ergonomic chair. You see, the lumbar portion of the spine has an inward curve. Without a lumbar support chair, you may experience slouching, which may flatten this natural curve. As a result, you start experiencing strains in all the structures of your lower spine.
Make sure to get an office chair with lumbar support and adjustment. This will allow each user of the chair to support the inward curve of their back properly.
A backrest of 30 to 49 centimeter wide is appropriate for an ergonomic chair. Note that some ergonomic chairs come with separate backrests. In this case, it should be adjustable (e.g., height, angle).
Again, the backrest needs to support all the natural curves of your spine. However, lumbar support remains the priority here.
It can be easy to neglect the seat material when you get impressed with the other features that the chair has. However, you need to get the best computer chair that has enough padding to make sitting comfortably. This is especially important when you sit for long periods of time.
Additionally, look for ergonomic chairs that have a cloth fabric as they are breathable. Harder surfaces should be avoided.
Armrests need to be adjustable. This feature allows your arms to rest comfortably without placing pressure on your shoulders. Rest the elbows and forearms lightly on the armrests.
When you are typing, make sure the forearms are not lying on the armrests.
This one is a no-brainer. Your chair needs to easily rotate so you don’t have to strain your body when trying to reach other sides of the desk.
Frequent breaks are important!
Regardless of the type of chair you own, you need to take frequent pauses to allow your musculoskeletal system to rest.
This is especially important if you have an office job. Make sure to get frequent breaks during the day to interrupt the tension applied to your dorsal muscles.
This way, myocytes (muscle cells) will not have to modify their contractive patterns to adapt to the new position.
Preferably, breaks should be scheduled every 30 minutes of sitting in front of a desk.
If you suffer from chronic back pain, speak with your primary care physician or orthopaedic surgeon to get tailored medical advice. An ergonomic chair does not warrant interrupting your medical treatment.
Investing in a good ergonomic chair can be the best thing you do to protect your spine from irreversible complications. When you consider the risks and money required to fix the musculoskeletal complications that arise from sitting on a bad chair, this investment becomes a no-brainer.
We hope that this article helped you appreciate the value of a good ergonomic chair, as well as the features to look for when purchasing one.
If you have any questions or concerns about ergonomic chairs, feel free to leave a comment in the section below. You can also contact us via this link Contact Us for a private conversation.