These days much of the UK workforce is office bound and therefore spend much of their day sitting down. The human body is not designed to be inactive and in a seated position for long periods, we are designed to be hunter gatherers. Almost 31 million days of work were lost in 2013 due to back, neck and muscle problems, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
So what can be done to improve the health of these desk bound workers? Improving the seating and posture is a very good place to start. Ergonomic chairs have evolved rapidly in the last decade to combat this very problem.
What is an ergonomic chair?
It is a chair that has been designed completely with the user in mind; it not only promotes good seated posture but also enables the user to stay seated very comfortably for long periods. An ergonomic office chair works at one with the human body to minimise fatigue and aching shoulders or back. They are manufactured using knowledge from years of research into body movements, skeletal/spinal stress and postures that lead to pain.
There are usually many different functions on the chair to allow for different seated positions to be achieved as well as of course different height settings. For example, some chairs have full synchronisation in the movement of the back and seat. This means when you move; the seat and the back move with your body.
Why get one?
If you are an office based worker, the chances are you will spend 95% of your day sitting at a desk. Unfortunately, this is not ideal for us humans and many health problems can arise from doing this over many years. Many people experience lower (or lumbar) back pain from sitting on office chairs with no support.
Benefits of Ergonomic office chairs
- Comfort – the chair will sculpt to your body ensuring comfort all day long. Some chairs come with memory foam upholstery for the ultimate comfort.
- Circulation – the seat will be angle and height adjustable to enable you to keep your legs at 90 degrees. By doing so you are allowing proper blood flow through your legs at all times.
- Support – from lower back through to shoulders and arms. Keeping your whole body properly supported means there are no aches and pains or fatigue from sitting for long periods of time. One overlooked area is support for the arms; Supporting arm weight reduces the stress on the spine but it is important that the armrests fit but also minimise contact stress with adequate padding.
- Productivity – feeling much more comfortable whilst working will increase your productivity and ability to concentrate for longer amounts of time.
So what are my options?
One aspect that can easily be overlooked is that all human bodies are different sizes and shapes. The human spine is as unique as a fingerprint and our individual spinal length even varies by as much as 2 cm over the course of a day. So maximum adjustability in the chair is very important. Let’s look at the adjustability in more detail:
- Forward Tilt or Synchronous Mechanism which is where the seat and back move together allowing the user to vary their posture throughout the day.
- Seat height adjustment – allowing the user to set the height of the chair to suit their height and leg length.
- Adjustable Lumbar Support enables you to optimise the shape of the chair backrest to fit the curvature of the spine in the lower back area.
- Adjustable armrests that can be moved back and forward or up and down to adjust the distance between the seat and the back to accommodate different users.
- Head and neck rests that can be moved up and down for extra support of the head.
- Adjustable Thoracic Support – not widely used but is an addition to the lower lumbar support for the middle back area to add further adjustment range.
Talk to an expert
Depending which area you need the extra support or movability, will define what sort of ergonomic chair is the best fit for you. Getting some expert advice on this would be advisable and speaking to an office furniture company who specialise in orthopaedic chairs for bad backs.
Here at Randalls we have a wealth of experience in this field. We will also give you the chance to try before you buy to make sure that you really get the chair that is best for you. Call Tony Randall now on 0117 3600 123 for no obligation advice.
This post was written by Tony Randall