Mesh is the top choice when we talk about an ideal office chair. Its sleek design and light weight have made it an inevitable part of the modern office décor. But, we are not here to discuss the aesthetics today. Our question is, are mesh chairs good for the back or not?
Mesh chairs provide amazing back support. The backrest is s-shaped instead of flat to capture the natural shape of our spine as we sit. Plus, the 360 degrees swivel along with a “waterdrop” seat design makes sure we are putting the minimum weight on the back.
The truth is, our productivity in the office is tied to our sitting arrangement. After all, nobody likes to give their best when they suffer from chronic back pain.
That’s why we came up with this guide for you. We talked about the basic structure of a mesh chair first and how it affects our spinal health. Plus, we dived deeper into the root causes of back pain that you feel after a work shift.
So, buckle uptight. Because we are ready to jump.
Are Mesh Office Chairs Good For Back?
Here, we will look at each aspect of the mesh chair. Then, we will conclude whether it is doing good for you back. Who knows? You might have a different opinion than us after going through the details.
Unlike most chairs, the mesh ones come with an S-shaped backrest design. The flat backrests start to feel uncomfortable after a while. It only confirms a straight-back position. There is no support at all, as you try to wiggle around and change your sitting position.
Thankfully, the S-shaped backrest mimics our spinal structure. It makes sure that the chair fits our natural spine shape perfectly. So, your back is at the optimum resting-state all the time.
Better Lumbar Support
Mesh chair excels at providing lumbar support. It is the lower back area surrounding our tailbone. As we sit for long hours, this area gets affected the most.
The mesh chair is designed to leave little space between your lower back and the backrest. This trick will help you keep the back straight without any effort. For a flat chair, it is not possible to achieve.
Our natural spinal curve creates an ever-existing space between the chair and us. It leads to ruining our posture and slightly slouching over the desk. Consequently, a curve is noticeable instead of an outright position.
360 degrees Swivel
Forget about getting up frequently to get something on the desk. The 360 degrees swivel makes sure that you can roam around the desk without having to get up physically. How wonderful is that?
With a static chair, we might end up hunching over the desk several times to get a pen or a file. You know what we are talking about. We are all guilty of flexing our hands and shoulders to reach something without getting up.
Such practices can cause stiffness around our back muscles and discs. Guess what? Mesh chairs help you go closer to your target object around the desk without having to get up.
The chair material has no direct relationship with back pain. However, it surely impacts the comfort your back feels. Mesh is a highly breathable material. It is stretched over the whole chair body creating tiny holes in the process. These micro holes act as a ventilator.
Air can easily penetrate the surface and reach your back. The result is a sweat-free and cool experience during the shift. It is extremely crucial during hot weather.
When the chair doesn’t make you sweat, you will require fewer breaks between your tasks.
Why Do Mesh Chairs Hurt My Back?
Even though the manufacturers left no stones unturned to provide you with the maximum support, we still hear complaints here and there.
Let’s try to find out why people might experience back pain using a mesh chair. And, most importantly, how you can solve it.
The Seat Can Be Too Stiff Or Hard
Although chairs are designed to provide comfort, office chairs serve a different purpose. The aim is to increase the productivity of the worker as much as possible. that’s why the seat is kept unpadded.
Now, it might not be an issue if you take several breaks during the shift. However, for a worker whose job is to do desk work sitting on a hard mesh chair, the struggle is real.
If the seat does not accommodate a “waterdrop” structure, the pressure will not spread equally throughout the surface. As a result, certain points like your tailbone will start aching.
Try purchasing a mesh chair with a standardized seat. It should not be completely flat. For example, if you spill some water, the water must run through the seat surface and fall. If it stays motionless on the seat, that seat is not good for you.
Another fix can be to get padding. Even though the seat is flat and hard, an extra layer of the cushion can cover that fault. The weight will directly fall into the padding and get redistributed through the new surface.
It will make sure no point on your body is getting more stress or pressure than the rest. And, this small addition might result in a happy and painless workday.
Some people still end up having back pain even after having the most comfortable chair. What’s the issue? The problem is their incorrect sitting posture.
The most common posture you will notice in an office environment is slouching on the office chair or hunching over the desk. These postures disrupt the equal weight distribution on our spine.
As you already know, our spine is responsible for carrying the whole weight of our body. It doesn’t matter how much weight you give, as long as the pressure is distributed equally. The problem with slumping or slouching is that it hinders this mechanism.
Certain points in your spine get more pressure when you sit like this. And, that’s not a good sign. If you prolong it, the surrounding tissues and muscles will get affected too.
Not just that, the blood circulation is reduced in those targeted areas. It causes the tissues to get stiffen. As a result, you end up with a stiff back.
The chair can only help you maintain your posture. But, you have to build the habit of sitting with a straight back.
Try using a chair that has an ergonomic feature. It means that the backrest is flexible. You can adjust the angles according to your current posture. No need to remind yourself over and over again. The adjustable backrest will catch your back at any position.
Plus, it will continuously re-arrange the angle to reduce the pressure on your body. Consequently, you can stay comfy for a long time.
Not Adequate Upper Back Support
One thing with mesh chairs is that the length doesn’t reach our upper backs fully. Although there is nothing wrong with that. Because an office chair makes sure to step up your productivity level. So, it makes sense that the chair won’t allow you to slouch on it and take mini naps.
But, it is impossible to maintain productivity for the whole 8-hour shift. We need breaks and have to change the “straight” position. That’s when the real problem arises.
You see, we don’t need much support for the upper spinal cord if we keep up the “productive” position. Our upper back consists of 12 bones. They are known as the thoracic spine. This area rarely ever hurts as we work on a computer desk.
However, once you finish the assignment and want to relax, it becomes hard. There is nothing to catch your upper back and neck. Taking a nap while our neck is hanging off the backrest is the most common scenario in any office. Or, you might slouch over completely and take a nap by putting your head on the desk.
This causes the back to form a curve. After you wake up from that nap, the pain starts shooting up due to such poor postures. Now, imagine the neck, shoulder, and upper back go through such pain daily. Most of the time, we even leave the office with our back hurting like this.
So, what’s the solution for this?
We couldn’t find any traditional mesh chair that provides upper back support as well. You can customize your own set, but that’s going to be too expensive. So, let’s get practical here. we advise you to exercise after such an inconvenient nap on our sit.
But, there are certain forms of exercise that might cause even more discomfort. For example, lifting weight or throwing balls. For better results, stick with the stretching exercises. Exercises that improve blood circulation in the target upper back area will be the best.
And, most importantly, try taking naps somewhere else. We know it’s more sneaky to just relax on your seat, but, that is detrimental to your health in the long run. If there is a couch near your desk, try going there.
Lack of Elbow Support
Chairs come with in-built elbow support. We call it the armrest. At first glance, it might not look very important. But, wait till you experience crucial neck strains.
You see, better elbow support reduces the stress on our lower neck. But most office chairs including the mesh ones come with a hard or low-quality armrest. Those armrests are not comfy enough and often feel hard.
Even though some chairs come with an armrest, it is not correctly located. To get the best support, you need an armrest allowing you to stay neutral. If it makes you shift and ruin your position just to put the elbows on rest, that’s not helpful.
Research suggests that you should not raise your shoulder or put stress on them while using the armrest. There are moderate evidences affirming that optimal armrest adjustment leads to lower shoulder/neck injury.
The problem with an average office chair is, that the armchair could be too far away from the edge. As a result, when you move forward to work on something, the hands can’t naturally reach the armrests.
Or, if you manage to put your elbows on them, forget about getting close to the desk any time soon. This can put an excessive amount of load on your upper back muscles.
The problem is worse for female workers. The “one-size-for-all” chairs come with armrests that fail to fit the women’s shoulder width. Women tend to have smaller shoulder width.
That’s why they need armrests that sit just below their shoulder and help them maintain their position. But, most of the time, the armrests are too long and out of reach from their upper arms.
Problems like this accumulate over time before striking us with chronic back pain.
There should be different proportions of the armrest to suit both men and women. For an office that employs both genders without discrimination, the sitting arrangement must be customized to cater to everybody’s needs.
When the armrest position is optimal, it will fit us like a glove. Working for long hours is smooth with no pain whatsoever.
A study found that our back is more relaxed when we work using an armrest (perfectly located). Now, here is another thing. Some chairs come with absolutely no armrest. When a person sits on such a chair, he/she tends to find support from another object. For example, the mouse pad on your desk.
But, for chairs with dislocated armrests, the person won’t try to find a foreign object. Instead, that person will transform his original sitting position to match the armrest location. And, this causes huge ergonomic discomfort.
Something is better than nothing. This proverb goes completely wrong with an armrest feature. So, unless you can’t find the right one, make sure you avoid the misplaced ones at least.
More Tips To Stop Mesh Chairs From Hurting Your Back
Most of the time it’s more our fault than the chairs. We incorporate habits that lead to minor spinal injury. That also means we can just fix those silly habits and improve our back health significantly.
Adjust Your Desk
We already discussed how important it was to maintain posture during sitting. But, we fail to do so if the desk height is extremely lower or higher than the ideal height. You won’t be able to keep your back straight and put it on a rest while working on such desks.
So, that’s the first thing you should change in your work environment.
If you don’t know the ideal desk height, you can measure it at any time. Sit on your chair and put your hands forwards as if to work on a file. Then, try various hand positions to finalize the most suitable height for your desk. Make sure you don’t need to bend forward while working on the desk.
Keep Everything Within Reach
Another trick to get the best result out of your office chair is to keep everything close. If everything is scattered among the desk, you will have to hunch over several times to get something for work.
It’s okay when you do it one or two times. But, imagine the impact on your spine if you keep doing this for almost everything.
The best suggestion is to re-arrange your desk. Keep those things that you need frequently like mugs, pens, files, etc closer to the edge. And, keep the less essential ones at the back. This way you can reduce the time your back draws a curve.
Adjust The Seat
Adjustability is the first feature you should look for in a mesh chair. But once you buy it, this feature seems to get neglected. Maybe because we subconsciously instruct our backs to adjust to any discomfort. And, the result is inevitable back pain in the long run.
We highly recommend adjusting your seat height to match the desk. You can also change the backrest position and make it move forward or backward. Nobody likes to sit in a singular straight position all day long.
That’s why you can adjust the backrest to comply with your current sitting position. If you want to take a nap, you can do so by reclining it fully.
An average person spends 55-60% of his working shift sitting. That’s why the chairs play such an important part in making our work experience peaceful and comfortable.
Although mesh chairs are the industry favorite, people might still face back pain issues. Sometimes it is because of our poor sitting habits, or the proportional defects of different chair parts.
In this article, we tried to give you an insight into the whole situation. We discussed all the possible causes and a quick solution to avoid them. Hope you can figure out your reason and solve it without further delay.
Remember that, if you ignore small discomforts today, over the period it will turn into a giant issue you can’t escape.