The 21st-century workforce is full of people who are aware of their rights and well-being. That’s the reason why old static chairs have no place in modern workstations. Office chairs have evolved and become a necessity.
But the question remains whether office chairs are good for posture or not?
Office chairs are great for maintaining posture. It comes with ergonomic features that reduce the hip pressure and stiffness around the shoulder and upper back. Not just that, you get better mobility, improved blood circulation, and higher lumbar support.
In this article, we will guide you to understand this question better. The debate is never-ending and you need a good insight into the whole picture. Moreover, we will give some practical suggestions on how to improve your current back pain.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into it.
Are Ergonomic Chairs Bad For Posture?
An ergonomic chair or a flexible chair means the same thing. It is no longer considered a luxury. The reason is its contribution towards increasing the productivity of a person through the right posture.
Below we have mentioned some of its main functions. After that, you can decide whether it is good or bad for the posture.
Reduced Hip Pressure
It takes the strain away from our “lumbosacral discs” and the surrounding muscles. Our hips carry the highest burden as we sit. And, the pressure only increases if the chair doesn’t come with a comfortable seat.
Did you ever sit on hard benches? Then, you know the strain our pelvis area feels after a while. The bones responsible for this pain are known as ischial tuberosities or sit bones. You can also call them sitz bones.
As the sit bones keep hitting uncomfortable surfaces, you will have the urge to wiggle in your sit. That will ruin your posture and break the focus.
However, most ergonomic chairs make sure the seat comes in an oval or water drop shape. You can spill some water on it to test it. the water will slide down the seat and fall into the ground. This shape matches the structure of our sit bones. Consequently, the hip pressure gets almost eliminated.
There is no ergonomic chair without a caster-wheel set. It promotes better mobility and efficiency. You can push the chair like a shopping cart and relocate it anywhere you want. No need to carry it by yourself.
These small things contribute to your back health to a greater extent. You only notice when the pain becomes unbearable.
Plus, you can move around the desk to reach an important file or pick up the phone. We are all guilty of bending or slouching over to get our hands on an object. Nobody is so conscious to get up from their seat every time they need something.
That’s why a set of wheels can save your back from the trauma of frequent bending or slumping.
We also love, how mobility makes it workplace efficient. The sound of pulling the chair in and out is equal to zero. That’s peaceful, isn’t it?
Our spine is designed in an “S” shape. If you look at the anatomy of the human body, the thoracic spine that contains our ribcage slightly tilts forward. On the other hand, the lower spine or lumbosacral area tends to tilt inward. It creates a snake-like shape.
That’s why the spine is put at rest only when this posture can be maintained. Luckily, the ergonomic chairs offer a backrest that imitates the same structure as its backrests.
You can forget about the posture and emerge yourself in the daily tasks.
Ergonomic chairs allow you to keep your feet flat under the chair. A smooth working experience requires more than a backrest and comfy seat. That’s why ergonomic chairs have attached two adjustable armrests. It is ready to meet any demand your elbows have while working.
Armrests are mostly a showpiece for ordinary office chairs. If you change the position slightly or move closer to the desk, the armrests become inefficient to use.
However, with an ergonomic chair’s 360 degrees coverage, the armrest is always there to catch your elbows and share the burden. It promotes a straight posture and protects the upper back and shoulder area against muscle contraction.
How Does Chair Affect Posture?
Not every chair is perfect for you. You realize that after spending 40 to 48 hours a week on it. You can be more careful with your next purchase if you know what a wrong chair can cause you.
Here are three ways a wrong chair can affect your posture and health.
Stiff Back And Reduced Blood Circulation
A wrong chair can reduce blood circulation in certain areas. Most of the time, your shoulders are the worst sufferers. It happens due to us slouching over the desk. The back forms a curve automatically ruining the optimum lordotic posture.
It causes blockage for the blood flowing upward. As a result, the muscles become stiff and lose flexibility. In this situation, if you stand up or shift suddenly, a stinging pain will force you to let out a scream.
A wrong chair can be very uncomfortable to sit on. Especially if your job is on the desk mostly. The report suggests that workers show a decreasing pattern in their productivity throughout the day.
The discomfort distracts them from the job. Most of the employees need to take mini breaks after 20-25 minutes to straighten the back again. It surely hampers their productivity.
Back And Neck Pain
Back and neck pain is a must when the chair goes wrong. Of course, there is no neck rest to put the neck at rest. the backrest ends just below the upper back.
You can’t get maximum support from this. Suppose you want to take a 10 minutes nap during a night shift. The chair is all you have. But, guess what? It doesn’t have a head or neck-rest. Your head needs to be hanging off the backrest for the whole nap time.
And, as you wake up, there is excruciating pain in your upper back and neck. The same thing happens with a non-reclining office chair. The backrest fails to match your position and puts a heavy strain on your muscles.
How To Adjust Office Chair For Lower Back Pain?
We have a misconception that low-quality lumbar support is responsible for our back pains. It is partially true. Because other reasons can also lead to a disruption in our posture and cause back problems.
Sometimes it can be the lower back support of the chair, but there are equal chances for the other parts to be a culprit.
That’s why, to get rid of the pain, you have to find out the problematic chair part first. Once you know the part, the replacement or adjusting process becomes a breeze.
But, how do you identify the part that requires adjustment? We have a quick test to help you with the process.
Clench your fists tightly. Now, try to pass the fist between your lower back and the chair’s backrest. Remember to sit in your usual position. It’s best if you can maintain a lordotic posture during the test.
So, did the fists pass through perfectly? Then the lumbar support of the office chair is up to the mark. However, if you faced hardship while passing the fist, the chair is way too deep. You have to move it forward.
If that’s not doing the trick, try inserting a cushion or pillow to support the lumbar area.The cushion will help your back to arch slightly. So, you won’t have the natural urge to slouch down or over the chair while working.
Very few people consider the armrests while purchasing an office chair. But once you start spending 8 hours straight on a chair, you realize the importance. We work with our hands. Be it writing something on paper, or typing on a computer. Consequently, our hands will need support. That’s the job of an armrest.
In this test, we will identify whether the armrest is compatible with our elbows or not. For example, rest your elbow on the hand-rest first. Does it make a 90 degrees angle?
If yes, then the armrest is positioned perfectly and it is providing great support to your hands as you do the desk work.
However, if the angle is smaller or higher than that, the support is zero. Your hands are on their own. And, if you try to put them on the dislocated rests, you have to ruin the posture. Either you have to slouch over or bend forward to do that.
Remove the current armrest and install a new one with high-quality memory foam. The key is to measure where you need to place it this time. give it a mark if needed.
Here comes the calf test. Just like other tests, sit with a straight posture first. Now, try inserting your fingers between the calves and the leading edge of the chair. If it is too tight, you need an extra footrest to put your feet.
On the other hand, if the fingers can slide easily, the chair is perfect according to your height.
For unusually tall people, no chair seems to fit. This is the test to identify the problem. If you sit in a chair too small for your height, there will be a very wide gap between your upper calf and the front edge of the chair. You will have to flex the feet under the desk to keep your back straight.
To prevent this, try the ergonomic seat adjustment feature. You can raise the height of the seat according to your needs. Try using that feature and keep testing until you reach the optimum point.
However, if you are too tall, none of the seat adjustments will suffice you. In that case, we recommend getting another office chair altogether.
In this test, we will examine the eye level. Sit with your bottoms pressed against the chair seat and your back against the backrest. Now, close your eyes and open them again.
Where do your eyes reach as soon as you shut them on? If it is the center of your office computer, that’s good. It means that the chair and desk proportion is perfect.
However, you might not be so lucky. So, your eyes might also land above or below the computer. That’s when you know the seat needs to be adjusted. Why did we measure with the computer?
Because we tend to change our posture, again and again, to work smoothly on the computer. If your eyes are not reaching the center naturally, you will have the urge to flex your back to reach there. As you keep doing it for longer periods, the back will be strained.
The opposite happens when the eye lands above the computer’s center naturally. That’s when you will try to bend the back to keep your height compatible with the desk. The aftermath is aching back.
So, test your eye levels and increase or decrease the seat height to match the desk set.
Why Do We Need Lumbar Need Support?
Most older office chairs used to have a straight backrest without any curve. It makes our upper spine tilt backward due to the sitting position. At the same time, our lumbar area moves forward creating a huge gap and ruining the natural spine shape.
That’s the reason we can’t sit on these chairs for long hours without experiencing pain.
Here comes the lumbar support. It breaks the traditional straight backrest structure and provides a curve at the bottom. As a result, the gap between our lower back and the chair’s backrest gets eliminated or at least reduced. There is no more temptation to slouch over or down the chair.
Why Does Lumbar Support Hurt My Back?
Many people buy an office chair with lumbar support due to the hype. But they still feel constant back pain. Here’s why this happens.
Misplacement Of The Lumbar Support
The major culprit for lower back pain is the dislocation of lumbar support. the lumbar support should be between your lower back and the chair’s back. To be more precise, our lumbar area contains five vertebrae. The support should be targeted towards the 4 and 5 vertebrae.
However, many office chairs provide fixed support that stays right below our shoulders. That’s not the location where we want it. If the support is even higher, that is called a “neck-rest.”
Having lumbar supports in odd areas will create a wide gap between our body and the chair. And, if it is targeting the tailbone, you will feel crucial upper back pains.
We recommend getting rid of that chair as soon as possible. The more time you spend on it, the more torture it will be on the back.
Fixed Lumbar Support
Fixed lumbar supports are sealed tightly within the backrest’s surface. It is more convenient for users that way. You don’t have to find the cushion or pillow daily. However, there are many cons to this.
- The fixed lumbar support is measured for male body proportions. But everybody’s lumbar area is not at the same height. A tall person would require a completely different area for lumbar support than a short person.
That’s the same case for men and women. When it comes to women, there is hardly any chair designed for their anatomy. Consequently, you have no choice but to let the chair ruin your spinal posture.
- Fixed lumbar supports lack adjustability also. You could have adjusted it to suit your lumbar area if that facility was available. The support is tightly sealed.
That’s why many people prefer extra lumbar support like a cushion or soft pillows. You can place the support in the right area. And, if you want to change the chair, the support goes with you.
- It might sound insignificant here, but the patients testify to this. As we sit on the chair, the lumbosacral discs get involved heavily. In fact, the sitting position puts more burden on these two parts than any other position.
And a bad diet makes it worse. The report suggests that people who smoke are more likely to end up with an injured lower back. The culprit is the nicotine within such products. It disrupts the blood flow within the spinal area. We highly recommend you quit smoking slowly.
- Another important factor is being overweight. We are talking about being obese. The lumbar area has to carry the most weight (two to three times than usual) while we sit.
Now, imagine the pressure if the body is overweight. It would strain the surrounding muscles of your lower back leading to crucial pain.
- Moreover, if you tend to lift heavy objects without warming up before, you are at serious risk of facing lumbar pains. Yes, lifting heavy objects is a form of exercise.
But, before that, you need to flex your muscles and keep an eye on your posture. The wrong posture will affect your bone health like nothing else. You might end up in a hospital bed because of it.
If you are sitting on any chair for prolonged hours, your back health will deteriorate for sure. You see, it’s not always about the chair. Of course, some chairs can cause problems to occur faster than others.
But, remaining in a static position for prolonged hours is itself a major reason for back pains. Unfortunately, for every office worker, it is a harsh reality. We have to sit on the chair for hours completing tasks one after another.
We recommend staying active during your office shifts. It can be taking small breaks between tasks. You can walk around the office for 5 to 10 minutes.
Stretching is a great form of exercise to increase blood circulation all over the body. It can help with removing stress from certain body parts and re-enforce their flexibility. If you can’t take breaks for exercise, at least try getting up from the seat frequently.
Chairs determine how much productive we can be on a particular day. And, you can’t deny this fact. Try giving your best shot sitting on a static chair that neither has a comfy seat, nor a backrest.
People who have gone through such terrible experiences because of their old chairs would be extra cautious while buying a new one. That’s why asking questions like how are office chairs for posture, is pretty normal.
That’s why we tried to tackle every question regarding how office chairs affect our posture. We brought all the good and bad aspects to give a clearer insight.
Now, it’s our turn to ask you. what do you think about replacing the current one with an ergonomic office chair?