What to Look For In Ergonomic Chairs For Back Pain

Computer Workstation Variables

Computer Workstation Variables (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We spend a lot of our time sitting which can make any back pain we suffer worse. Ergonomic chairs are a great way to help prevent or reduce back pain. In this article we are going to discuss what to look for in ergonomic chairs for back pain.

The word ergonomic is derived from the two Greek words – ‘ergos’ meaning work and ‘nomos’ meaning law. Ergonomics can be defined simply as the science of equipment design created to increase work productivity and prevent injury by reducing discomfort and tiredness or fatigue.

Everyday life and actions can cause stresses and strain to the human body if it is used incorrectly. Adopting good posture, using suitable lifting techniques and wearing supportive footwear can all go a long way to minimizing damage created by these actions.

Using Ergonomic Chairs In The Working Environment

Using ergonomically designed equipment both at home and in the working environment will also reduce the risk of strain and injury. As many people sit for prolonged periods of the day at desks, in positions that may stress the structures of the spine, using a suitable chair is imperative for support, comfort and the promotion of good posture. A good ergonomic chair is vital for pre-existing back problems and pain.

When choosing an ergonomic chair there are several factors which have to be taken into consideration. The height should be adjustable to allow the user to keep the feet flat on the floor, thighs horizontal and arms level with the height of a desk if relevant. Some chairs have pneumatic adjustment levers, which make height adjustment simple and easily accessible when sitting.

The width and depth of the seat should support the user comfortably. The depth needs to be enough to allow the user to sit with the back against the backrest whilst leaving space between the back of the knees and the chair seat to prevent rubbing. There should be enough width for the seat to extend at least an inch beyond the thighs and hips on both sides.

Ergonomic Chairs Must Have Good Adjustability

The seat should be able to tilt either forwards or backwards and be adjusted easily. The seat should of course be comfortable to sit on for lengthy periods, with adequate padding and a suitable covering.

Lumbar support is vital when choosing an ergonomic chair. The lower back has an inward curve and without support the curve flattens and slouches, creating strain and eventual pain. A chair with an adaptable back, which can be adjusted up and down as well as backwards and forwards is important for a correct fit.

Chair Support And Back Pain

For users with existing back pain it may also be useful to choose a chair that supports the upper and middle back as well as the lower area. A chair that allows the user to recline provides a more natural position than one that is completely upright.

If armrests are a feature they should be broad, padded and shaped appropriately for the individual. They should be adjustable so the arms are parallel to the floor when the armrests are in use and allow for width adjustment.

Finally, the user needs to decide whether the chair needs to be moved frequently. In this case a chair should be chosen with casters what move smoothly over the flooring in the work area.

Thought they can be quite expensive, ergonomic chairs for back pain are a worthwhile investment.