When we consider the amount of time we sit in our office chairs either working from home or the office, it equates to at least 4- 6 hours a day. If an office worker is sat in an uncomfortable chair for that amount of time, it could be causing serious health problems.
There are several reasons why people don’t always have ergonomic chairs which may be partly down to cost. High-spec ergonomic chairs come with a more expensive price tag than standard office chairs because they feature more componentry such as independent seat tilt, seat slide, adjustable lumber support and headrests.
Also, some people know very little about the ins and outs of ergonomic chairs, or the risks associated from sitting all day on a non-ergonomic chair, such as a kitchen stool. It is only when their backs start hurting that they start to consider ergonomics and by that point, back or neck pain may already be a problem.
If you feel your chair is not providing you with enough support during the working day, it could be time for an ergonomic upgrade. Your back will thank you for it later!
Using an ergonomic chair can drastically improve your posture, reduce back pain and ultimately improve productivity. Your overall comfort levels will be greatly enhanced. It’s a case of once you go there you won’t look back!
If you are an employer you will understand the reasons why you should help your employees maintain the right posture and feel relaxed by providing an ergonomic office chair. It is possibly one of the best investments any company can make as you will be contributing to your employees’ wellbeing and they in turn will be more comfortable and productive as a result.
So, let’s look at 10 reasons why you may need an ergonomic office chair.
1. Support Correct Posture. Lumber, Adjustable arm rests and Seat Height
Ergonomic chairs are designed to support your natural posture and to reduce stressful forces on your body. Most ergonomic chairs feature full length back rests extending from your shoulders to the seat.
Another feature ergonomic chairs boast is a lower lumbar support which helps protect the lower (lumbar) part of your spine. This is important because most health problems arising from sitting for long periods are related to the lower back region.
Adjustable armrests support your elbow and forearms when typing, without them your arms would be unsupported, adding more weight and stress to your shoulders and arms.
The seat height is also important because this enables you to sit with your feet flat on the floor with your hips and knees at approximately ninety degrees. By doing this you will be distributing your weight more evenly which in turn takes the pressure off your back.
2. Enhanced Productivity
How can you concentrate or do your best work when you are uncomfortable? It’s like running or walking with a stone in your shoe; you just can’t. It’s the same when you are seated. We try so many things to make ourselves comfortable such as putting cushions behind our backs or placing our laptops on shoe boxes instead of using adjustable monitor arms.
We spend a lot of time throughout our working day fighting against our office chairs and equipment when they are making us uncomfortable. This eats into our working time and makes us less productive.
By choosing office furniture that is both ergonomically designed and comfortable, you can focus your energy and attention more firmly on your work.
3. Reduced back and neck pain
Office workers often complain of lower back and neck pain. This is usually because entry level or budget office chairs do not provide the best support when seated for long periods of time. By using an ergonomic chair with lumbar support and headrests, they will be supported at those all-important pressure points.
4. Reduces Hips Pressure
After the knees, the hip joints bear the most weight in the body. We often take for granted what our hips allow us to do – walk, sit and stand with our weight evenly distributed. When we are seated in a basic office chair our hips are often straining with the weight of our legs not being supported properly.
Many ergonomic chairs feature seat slide which gives the user deeper or shallower seat surface area. This will in turn give their thighs adequate support taking the hanging pressure off the hips.
5. Movement – Active sitting
We have previously mentioned that remaining in a seated position for prolonged periods of time is not necessarily healthy. You may be thinking that’s all very well, but how am I supposed to move when I’m expected to work? Well, the answer is in the way you sit.
Sitting is not necessarily the culprit of all back discomfort and other ailments, but sitting in restrictive or constrained posture for too long is. It is for this reason that ‘Active Sitting’ is now a recognised term in the modern workplace and not another buzz word or fad.
What is Active Sitting?
Active sitting occurs when seating allows or encourages the seated occupant to be active even whilst seated. Also referred to as dynamic sitting, the concept is that flexibility and movement while seated can be beneficial for the human body and make some seated tasks easier to perform.
Have you seen the HAG Capisco chair? It has been inspired by a horse rider’s posture and its overall unique shape offers several ways to sit or half stand. This is not a chair you can just slump yourself into and expect to be comfortable – it’s designed to keep you moving while seated and it does a really good job of that.
Some people think it looks strange and that it’s uncomfortable but that really is the point.
It’s like a hard task master or a PE teacher telling you throughout the day to keep moving!
I have been using the HAG Capisco for some time now and I also am lucky enough to have a height adjustable desk so I can perch on the HAG Capisco whilst stood up. There are grip plates on the sections of the base which allow your feet to rest on, which supports my legs.
I recently switched this chair for another office chair but I have since been experiencing lower back ache – this is no coincidence – it’s simply because I am not moving as much when seated.
I have since reverted to the HAG Capisco and Active Sitting throughout the day.
6. Decrease worker compensation costs
When people are not physically comfortable in their office chairs, it leads to frequent requests for sick leave because of illnesses.
Research has shown that about one-third of workers’ compensation claims can be traced back to MSD (Musculoskeletal Disorder) issues which could cost dearly!
By investing in ergonomic chairs at the early stages you will be saving money, time, and worry.
7. Warranty – backed
Manufacturers of ergonomic office chairs are confident about the product they deliver. Therefore, they are eager to offer warranty that does not normally accompany regular, non-ergonomic chairs. The Physio Ergonomic 24-hour chair has a 5 year warranty and The Humanscale Diffrient ergonomic smart chair has a lengthy 15 year warranty! They’ve got your back.
8. Aid to an interactive, agile and collaborative workforce
Ergonomic chairs or stools contribute to better movement in the workplace. They are often lightweight and easy to move from workstation to workstation or to agile work tables and meeting pods. More streamlined ergonomic chairs in the office will facilitate getting everyone together to work and come up with better ideas.
9. Improved Blood Circulation
One of the main indications of poor blood circulation in your legs is cramping. This happens if there is too much weight straining on your legs. It also happens when you sit on a bad chair that has its seat pressing against the back of your knees. If you sit for long hours especially on an office chair without leg support, your blood circulation is hindered. Good performance requires healthy blood circulation and this is only possible with the best ergonomic office chair.
10. Optimum Safety
Ergonomic chairs are designed to withstand users adjusting them more frequently than other office chairs. It is for this reason that they go through some rigorous testing during the development stage.
A good ergonomic office chair, as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “provides necessary support to the back, legs, buttocks, and arms, while reducing exposures to awkward postures, contact stress, and forceful exertions”.
To comply with these international benchmarks, ergonomic chairs are lab tested for Backrest Strength, Base Test, Drop Test, Swivel Test, Stability Test, Gas Cylinder and so on.
Basically, you shouldn’t be worried about the safety or longevity of an ergonomic office chair.
We can be forgiven for thinking that ergonomic chairs are for the reserves of those who already live with or manage back pain but, this should not really be the case. We should consider ergonomic chairs in more detail as they will help prevent problems in the future. We are all familiar with the adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ and this can certainly be applied to high quality ergonomic chairs.
Our Ergonomic specialist, Phil Johns, carries out workstation assessments and he is often surprised at the substandard furniture people use on a daily basis. He frequently listens to physical complaints, which he can easily identify as being attributed to their furniture and working environments.
We need to educate ourselves about ergonomics, so that we can protect ourselves against potential long-term back and neck pain. By using ergonomic chairs, even as healthy and fit people, we can ensure that our bodies won’t suffer the consequences from using substandard seating.
We hope you have found this blog useful and that you are still sitting comfortably.