Working from home has become a necessity in the middle of this global health disaster, prompting more and more people to adapt to a life glued to a chair. Virtual classes have also made young people more dependent on a good study set-up.
Sitting for prolonged periods of time puts a strain on the neck, spine, back, and shoulders which are not only uncomfortable but can lead to several work-related health issues like stiff necks, sore shoulders, body pains, and injuries.
Sedentary lifestyle coupled with poorly built office equipment are posing serious challenges in health across different groups of people. All these circumstances highlight the need to integrate ergonomic design in our homes.
Ergonomics is the art and science of designing tools, equipment, devices, and workflow to fit the human body. It is concerned to make working better and healthier by making objects compliment with how the human body functions.
It is not an entirely new idea, in fact several companies are already using ergonomics in their workplaces as part of their occupational health and safety standards. Some use standing desks, monitor mounts, and ergonomic chairs to prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
This article will focus on the ergonomic chair. The chair serves as a central and key furniture in every workspace and people should start investing in ergonomic chairs because of its many benefits.
Choosing the right chair can be beneficial to comfortability and productivity. The strain caused by extended sitting can make working an unenjoyable experience.
Sitting require less movement and muscular effort which may lead to a myriad of health problems. Ergonomic chairs can help alleviate this by providing the appropriate amount of pressure in the back and leg muscles.
This can also extend flexibility by providing a wide range of motion through adjustments in the chair height, hand rest, and lumbar support. They also provide excellent support on the back which helps in posture.
What makes a chair ergonomic?
The study of ergonomics believes that sitting is a specific and specialized activity influenced by the way a person interacts with the workspace. Compared to traditional chair, an ergonomic chair should be able to provide support to the human body appropriate to the user.
One chair may not be appropriate for everyone that is why it is important to determine the specific needs a sitting person requires. An industrial worker may have different demands from a video streamer and gamer.
Ergonomic chairs, therefore, should be able to adapt to the needs and demands of the user’s activity. Nevertheless, here are some essential features of ergonomic chairs that are common to its class regardless how a sitting person uses it:
- Seat height range. A good chair should be appropriate to the height of the user to minimize strain in the back. The user should ideally be able to sit with the feet on the floor or on a footrest. If the chair is too high or low, pressure will build up on the underside of the thighs making it sore.
- Seat width and depth. There should be a wide enough space to enable the use adjust their posture and allow even pressure across the seat. The seat depth should be ideally between 2 and 4 inches from the edge of the seat to the back of the knees. For some users, an ergonomic chair should be able to be adjusted to the right depth.
- Seat tilt. Anterior pelvic tilt is a common posture problem for ordinary chair users. An ergonomic chair allows tilting of the seat to correct the position of the pelvis. Keeping the pelvis in a neutral position while sitting is important with an ideal 80-degree angle at the hips, ankles, and knees.
- Recline and swivel. A good ergonomic chair allows the user to move the backrest to a more natural position. It takes the weight off from the upper body which reduced the strain from the spine. It also allows the user to move to a more relaxed position when taking a break. A good swivel mechanism is also a feature of an ergonomic chair. It helps the user with greater maneuverability by helping the user reach any point within their workspace easily without the need of moving the chair or standing up.
- Armrests. A reliable armrest helps the user to relax the shoulders and reduced tension in the upper body. This is especially true for artists and industrial workers who use their hands in different positions. Adjustable armrests in ergonomic chairs also allow more freedom in motion.
- Wheels. Most ergonomic chairs have wheels to allow free movement. The wheels should be right for the flooring. A hard flooring like wood and concrete should have soft rubber wheels while a carpeted floor should have hard wheels. The proper wheel makes workspace navigation better.
- Adjustability. Ergonomic chairs allow proper body coordination because of adjustable parts and mechanism. A sitting person moves in several positions while working to allow distribution of weight and lessen muscular strain. An ergonomic chair should help the user change from one position to another or tweak certain parts of the chair to fit the use in any given time.
Does one really need an ergonomic chair?
An ergonomic chair is a must these days. Most people especially those working in nine to five jobs spend majority of the day sitting. Some have also made hybrid workspaces while working from home.
The workspace has also been the place where people eat their lunch and dinner just to finish a deadline. Extended periods of sitting may cause serious body injuries and health issues because of tremendous strain on the lower back.
Suffice it to say that humans are not meant to be sitting for more than 12 hours a day.
Researchers have found that prolonged sitting can cause heart disease due to sedentariness. Ordinary chairs also do not provide lumbar support, adjustable armrests, and flexible recline abilities which increases the risk for body soreness.
Another study also discovered that poor sitting habits lead to musculoskeletal disorders like wrist issues, neck pain, low back disorders and elbow and forearm pain. Unsupported sitting may also cause chronic migraine headaches.
Occupational and safety health experts and managers are also recommending ergonomic chairs not only because of its health benefits but its contribution to productivity and creativity in workers.
A comfortable and safe worker is more likely to work with a positive mindset.
Are ergonomic chairs good for your back?
Ergonomic furniture have been designed to support users as they work. The ergonomic chair is no exception. When workers are not hunched and scooting forward, they can feel more comfort and reduced pain.
Perhaps the most important feature of ergonomic chair is the excellent back support. Owing to its design, an ergonomic chair follows the body’s natural posture and lessens slouching.
The typical full length of the chair allows the back to lean fully. The lower part of the chair curves forward to match the natural curve of the spine. This is called lumbar support because it protects the lumbar spine.
The adjustable armrests and headrests allow the elbow and the neck to rest comfortable depending on the preferred height and distance of the user. It allows the shoulders to be in the right distance from the desk without worsening muscle fatigue.
Misaligned hips and pelvis cause lower back pain mainly due to poor sitting habits and non-ergonomic chairs. With the proper chair, bony structures in the pelvic bones can slightly arch forward which is the most ideal in reducing back pain.
Ordinary chairs also cause the lumbar spine flexes and shoulders to roll forward. This is commonly referred to as slouching posture. If working under this posture is abused for a very long time, it can lead to pain, muscle guarding and headaches.
Ergonomic chairs may reduce the propensity of the user to slouch because of the support on the back and lumbar spine. It encourages the user to sit in the proper position.
What are the benefits of ergonomic chairs?
Aside from reducing and preventing back pain, ergonomic chairs have other benefits.
1. Posture support
Ergonomic chairs essentially promote good posture because of its excellent back support and adjustable parts. By reducing unnecessary strain on the spine, the continued use of an ergonomic chair leads to better posture even when not sitting.
2. Relieves neck and hip pressure
The adjustable headrest reduces the risk of neck stiffness and pressure in the shoulders, preventing complications like spondylosis. The ergonomic chair’s padding supports the hips and reduces stress and pressure in this area.
3. Less muscle strain
The ergonomic chair’s ability to recline in wide angles reduces muscular strain in the lumbar, cervical, and thoracic areas. The higher the recline angle, the lesser muscular activity which can help in preventing muscle soreness.
4. Dynamic sitting
Ergonomic chairs allow the user to switch regular positions easily. Dynamic sitting helps engage the back, leg, and abdominal muscles. With small position changes, muscle groups remain active improving blood circulation and strengthening core muscles.
Ergonomic chairs also allow users to customize their chairs according to their need. Some manufacturers allow future modifications and the option to remove certain parts that are not deemed necessary for some users.
6. Productivity boost
When comfort takes over the pain from sitting, users are expectedly more productive and happier. Fewer distractions caused by back and muscle pain allow users to concentrate at the task at hand and thereby producing quality work.
Can you say that ergonomic chairs are important, why?
A perfectly-designed chair allows the user to make most of their workspaces. It reduces work-related injuries and helps in creating a healthy and productive mindset.
For most people, their workstations and offices are their secondary homes where they spend most of their daily lives. It becomes imperative, therefore, to invest in ergonomic chairs.
Purchasing ergonomic chairs is a wise investment considering the benefits it offers. While most ergonomic chairs are not cheap, the advantages definitely outweigh the costs.
Traditional chairs no longer provide the support and comfort that contemporary users need. They are also uncomfortable in extended sitting periods causing posture problems and cutting down wellness.
For managers and bosses, providing their employees ergonomic office furniture can greatly reduce complications and liabilities arising from office-related injuries.
Ergonomic chairs can help lessen absenteeism. It also makes employees realize how much they are valued at work which encourages better work relations. Adopting ergonomic furniture like the ergonomic chair is a practical solution to office woes.
For students, the great comfort that ergonomic chairs provide helps in better study conditions and reduce. If students are healthier and more comfortable in their study areas, they are much happier and spend less time in distractions.
Ergonomic designs are now integrated to office spaces with more people paying attention to how they can minimize discomfort while maximizing productivity.
The chair is one central piece of the workspace that deserves careful scrutiny because most people spend their time spend seated while working.
A poorly-designed chair can cause health problems, extended sick leaves, and growing apathy. People may lose interest in performing ordinary tasks and feel unease in finishing deadlines.
A perfect solution to these conundrums is the ergonomic chair which provides comfort and support to the human body while boosting productivity in the process.
Purchasing one is a good start but it may not bring the benefits expected since proper sitting posture is still important. Moreover, the chair is but just one of the furniture in a workplace.
To maximize the benefits, the entire workspace should be coordinated and properly designed. People should also learn the hazards of extended sitting and implement rest periods between work time.
Some ergonomic set-ups use standing desks to allow users to use active rest periods and minimize muscle soreness caused by sitting.
The workplace should be a space where creativity and industry are put to good use but it should not jeopardize the health and comfort of the user. Working and studying should be an enjoyable experience and the way to do these is going ergonomic.