Improperly sized office chairs can lead to lower back pain and other physical problems. If you have a job that requires you to sit at a desk, you probably feel this kind of pain. The good news is that you don’t have to. By understanding the specific causes of the pain that you experience, you can look for a more suitable seat or find an alternative setting for your computer or paperwork.
Problem: The Pelvic Roll
When we sit for extended periods of time, we tend to roll our pelvises backwards (a.k.a. slouch). Because of the location of our lowest vertebrae, the discs between them become stressed, causing herniated discs.
Solution 1: Adjusting Chair Height
By adjusting your office chair’s height to allow your hips to be higher than your knees, you will help reduce the chances of slouching. In this position, your feet should rest flat on the floor or (depending on your desk height) on a small stool.
Consider your chair’s arm rest height, as well. A proper fit will mean that you can rest your forearms on the armrests comfortably, without having to shrug your shoulders or slouch in your chair.
Solution 2: Getting the Right Support
The natural lordotic curve of your lower back should find support in your office chair. This kind of support will decrease your propensity to slump backward into your chair. A properly fitting chair will allow your shoulder blades, mid back, and lower back to make contact with the upright area of your chair.
Solution 3: Sitting Correctly
While phrases like “Sit up!” and “Don’t slouch!” may help you get started, there’s a little more to proper posture than those simple thoughts. In a properly fitted and adjusted office chair, you should also be able to do the following, and all that the same time:
- Rest your feet comfortably on the ground.
- Keep the backs of your knees 1 to 2 inches from the seat of the chair.
- Support your entire back, from your pelvis up to your shoulder blades, by the back of the chair.
Solution 4: Thinking Outside the Chair
Even with a perfectly fitted office chair and ideal posture, sitting still means putting stress on your lower back. Taking periodic breaks from sitting (every 30 minutes, or so) or using alternative arrangements such as a standing work station can lessen your chances of lower back pathologies.
Some state-of-the-art offices actually include treadmills at work stations, and some European furniture makers are stepping up to the task of producing office furniture that accommodates both sitting and standing. Until that kind of ergonomically sensible office arrangement makes its way to your cubicle, you can at least make sure your chair is fitted and adjusted properly and that your posture is optimum. And make sure to get up once in a while, if for no other reason than to give your lower back a much-deserved and needed break!
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