Back pain is one of the most common health complaints of office workers today. Long hours spent sitting at a desk, poor posture, incorrect lifting of heavy items and constant twisting and bending to reach things all contribute to causing back strain. However, the type of chair you sit in is also likely to be a major contributing factor.
Ergonomics is all about the study of human physicality and the adaptation of lifestyle, furniture and other factors to maintain a healthy body. Ergonomic chairs have been on the market for many years now, and are designed to provide the correct support for those with sedentary jobs or lifestyles. At the very least, your office chair should have adjustable seat height, back height and back tilt to allow you to adjust it to your personal needs. If it does not, you have the right to ask for another chair that does.
On top of this, a good chair will also have a curved lumbar support and adjustable or removable armrests, along with adjustable seat depth. If your desk is at a height where when you are sitting in the correct position for the upper body your feet are not flat on the floor, then your company should also provide you with a footrest. Most businesses now realise the benefits of providing ergonomic chairs for employees, as the initial purchase cost is off-set by employees being far less likely to need time off for back pain.
Ergonomic chairs encourage us to sit correctly, but they need to be tailored to the individual to work properly. Your feet should be flat on the floor and knees bent at ninety degrees. You should be able to draw a straight line from your shoulders through your elbows to your hips, and your spine should curve naturally around the lumbar support curve of your chair. Your forearms should be parallel to the floor, and you should be able to rest your wrists on the desk in front of you. The top of your screen should be level with your eyes to prevent neck strain.
Using Your Chair To Best Advantage For Your Health
Once you have a workstation set up that offers you the best support, it’s time to take responsibility for your own health in the workplace. One of the most common causes of back strain is sitting for too long in one position. Taking regular breaks from sitting helps, but is not always possible in an office. There are plenty of stretching exercises you can perform without leaving your chair however. Learning a few simple stretches that can be done in your chair and performing them at regular intervals throughout the day will not only alleviate immediate pain but look after the long term health of your back also.