Ergonomic Work Chair – Why choosing the right chair is good for your back and neck?
If you are working in an office then you must be aware about the number of hours that you are expected to sit up while working. Sitting for very long hours is one of the main reasons for the development and compounding of a back and neck problem. The human spine is made up of delicate bone fragments that cannot take too much pressure. Sitting for too long in one single position puts a lot of strain on the back and the neck muscles.
Sitting while we are working cannot be avoided for sure. The next best option is to opt for an ergonomic chair that can ease the pressure from the spine and the lumbar region.
What is an ergonomic chair?
The Merriam Webster’s defines Ergonomics as “an applied science that is concerned with the designing and arranging of things so that people can use the things efficiently and safely.”
A traditional chair (more here) can be made ergonomic by an addition of a feature or a combination of some feature that will make it more comfortable than it originally was.
How can a chair be made ergonomic?
Here is a list of the qualities that an ergonomic chair must possess. Addition of a single or more than one feature can address the serious health problems of the back, neck and the legs.
1. Adjustable seat height:
A chair with a provision to adjust the seat height either manually or through a pneumatic device helps the person sitting in to adjust the chair to his own height. The person must be able to sit comfortably in the seat with his back parallel resting on the backrest. The thighs must be horizontally resting on the seat and feet must completely rest flat on the floor. This position is the most ideal position and a worker who is asked to sit for long hours should continuously check to see that he does deviate from this posture.
2. Comfortable width of the chair:
The seat of the chair should be wide enough to support the person’s base. The distance between the front and the backrest should also be enough for him to rest his back vertically against it. The tilt in the chair should be up to a maximum of 45 degrees and not one degree more.
3. Lower back support:
The lower back area is also called the lumbar region in medical terminology. This is the most delicate area of the spine. Any malady or pain emanating from this area of the spine can be extremely debilitating. The person suffering from pain in the lumbar region will have difficulty in walking without pain and experience difficulty in ease of standing up and sitting down often.
Doctors insist that flattening of an important curve in the lumbar region can also affect the nerves running to the brain and adversely affect the mental condition of the person. Therefore, it is extremely important that the person takes good care of himself when he has to sit for too long in the same position.
4. The backrest of the chair:
An ideal backrest needs to be within 13 to 20 inches wide. The backrest should not be too shaky or groovy. It should be able to give a firm support to his back.
5. The material of the cushion in the chair:
The most modern ergonomic material that is thought to be the most beneficial to people who already have problems with their back and the neck is the MEMORY FOAM. This foam has the ability to take the shape of the body which rests on it.
By taking the shape of the body it allows for the body to rest in its natural shape without putting any adverse pressure on the body itself. As soon as the person removes himself from the foam, the foam will come back to its original shape.
The foam can be covered in a breathable fabric. It is good to use a hypoallergenic material to cover the other parts of the chair.
6. The armrests:
The armrest should be adjustable and should rest the arms of the person sitting comfortably. The armrests can be padded for greater comfort. The shoulders should be loose and relaxed and the elbow must lightly sit at the end of the armrest.
7. The swivel in the chair:
In an office cubicle, things can be kept across the shelves and a good chair can be equipped with a swivel so that the user need not get up numerous times to pick up thing within arm’s reach. The swivel in the chair should be constructed for easy turning and rotating without straining the back and leg muscles.
Availability of ergonomic props:
There are ergonomic props that are readily available in the market place which can make normal chairs ergonomic or it can address a specific need of the worker. For example, If the worker is short in height and his legs do not reach the floor then he may opt to buy an ergonomic footrest made up of memory foam so that his feet may rest lightly on the pillow instead of dangling in air. Or in the worst circumstance if the same worker keeps his feet flat on the ground, he may end up straining his back muscles because it may then not rest vertically parallel on to the backrest.
The ergonomic props available are
· Portable lumbar support cushions
· Thick towels to spread on backrests
· Small foam pillows in circular shape to keep near your lower back.
Back pain and intense neck pain which emanate as a result of poor posture can cause a lot of inconvenience. In some cases, the pain can be so excruciating that the person may have to start a small course of painkillers. The person may have to even absent himself from work and that may also result in skewed income. Any further medical treatment for this lifestyle induced malady can cost him lot of time, money and energy.
The question is therefore why put yourself through so much of trouble when you can spend a little time everyday to check on your posture and correct it?
Opting for an ergonomic work chair is the least you can do today to save yourself from trouble later.