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If you work in an office or from home, it’s likely that you will spend most of the day sitting on your office desk chair. If this is this case, your chair should be comfortable and ergonomic enough to cope with lengthy sitting and your body movements whilst seated.
There are several health risk factors associated with sitting for long periods of time including muscle and joint issues. Diabetes, heart disease and even depression could also pose a threat if seated in the wrong type of office chair for prolonged periods of time.
Whilst we all know that sitting all day isn’t exactly great for our bodies and minds, few people have the luxury of quitting or changing their jobs for something more active and healthier. Even if we did have, or create that opportunity, its’ not usually the basis of a considered career move, so what can be done?
One piece of the jigsaw lies in making your office chair more ergonomic. This has two benefits: One being that a better or more comfortable seated position will take less of a toll on your body with the second being able to focus and work better.
Before we look at how to make an office chair more comfortable, it is vital to think about the reasons for why it is uncomfortable. What many of us do not realise is that it’s not often the fault of the chair for our discomfort levels. Many of us adopt the incorrect posture whilst working which can be detrimental to our health.
Another factor could be that your chair is not correctly adjusted to suit your body. That means the position of the back, armrest and footrest of the chair should be adjusted and suitable for your weight and height.
These are often the common reasons for finding discomfort while sitting in a chair. The proper adjustment of the chair is vital to have a comfortable sitting experience.
Get to know your chair and start experimenting with the levers, height adjustment and tension controls by doing a quick posture check you will already be making yourself more comfortable.
For more information about how to improve your posture whilst seated, take a look at our blog ‘How to sit properly at your desk’.
Most of the time we feel pain in our back when sitting for a longtime. Lack of lumbar support can cause this discomfort. While you are sitting on the chair, you should ensure good support on the back.
Your chair may not have a good backrest that can give you appropriate lumbar support. In this instance you can buy a back support device to fix this issue. You can also place an ergonomic lumber cushion, or regular cushion behind your lower back which will provide enough support to the curvature of your back and body. The Fellowes ultimate back support cushion is a cost effective way of adding ergonomic value to your office chair as it contracts and expands with the curvature of the body.
If your chair doesn’t have enough padding, you should get a seat cushion and place it on your seat. Depending on the design, the cushion can help relieve the symptoms of back pain or sciatica. Adequate support from a seat cushion will reduce the pressure on your pelvis and it will help you feel relaxed.
It is important to keep your feet flat on the ground whilst working as your weight will transfer evenly from the heel to toe. This will improve blood circulation making sitting for longer periods more comfortable. If you are on the shorter side and your feet don’t rest flat on the ground when sat in your office desk chair, you may experience strain or discomfort as the day goes on.
Luckily, there is a way to make up for this ergonomic shortcoming and that is to opt for a footrest. By using a footrest, you will have better weight distribution, reliving pressure from the lower back, making you more comfortable throughout your working day. Some footrests even have a bumpy surface and others even offer a massage system to relieve tired feet.
Raise your monitor to eye level
Although this tip does not relate directly to your office chair it will in fact make a difference to your comfort levels throughout the day. If you are looking down on to your monitor screen you may be straining your neck. So, to go easy on your spine raise your laptop or monitor stand to eyelevel. Some people tend to use books and boxes to achieve this, but it doesn’t really work as well as an adjustable monitor arm. This is because you are still unable to move the monitor up or down or back and forward when it is on a box. But why do I need to move my monitor you may ask? During the day your eyes become tired you will have a tendency to hunch towards the screen as the day goes on. This is not ideal for our posture inevitably hunching puts more pressure on our spines and seated bones. By using adjustable monitor arms, we can bring the monitor closer when our eyes become tired, instead of moving ourselves and compromising our posture.
Most people don’t pay attention to this part of a chair but if your shoulder muscles are tight, it could be that the arms of the chair need to be adjusted. Did you know that our arms (including the hands) compromise of roughly 10% of the body’s weight? Having that weight unsupported or resting on a hard surface can add to your discomfort.
You can also add adjustable arms to your chair (depending on the model) if you do not have them already. These arms will support the weight of your arms, so you do not get stiff.
Glare can cause eye strain and can force you to wiggle around in your chair to find an angle that lets your clearly view your screen. This can impair your posture and contribute to overall discomfort while working. The good news is that changing up your office lighting can make it more comfortable to look at your screen. Start by investing in a few lamps with multiple lighting settings so you can customize the intensity of the light and where it lands on your computer and desk.
For the same reason as using adjustable monitor arms, to move your monitor to eyelevel, using a laptop or document stand is important: They can reduce neck stain because you don’t have to keep glancing down to read from the document or laptop screen. The Clear Slop Pro document holder can be set below screen level meaning you can always keep your line of vison straight.
We have created this infographic highlighting a few key points from this guide:
We hope these tips on how to make your office chair more comfortable will help you if you are experiencing discomfort with your current chair. We must also remind ourselves that sometimes it is not the fault of the chair but the incorrect postures we sometimes adopt throughout the day.
What’s your posture now whilst reading this? Are your feet flat on the floor? Are you looking down at your screen or monitor? Are your arms adequately supported by your chair? Is your lower back (lumbar) supported by the chair?
If we try and adopt some of the ergonomic tips, above, then we will find that we are more comfortable on our chair. It’s a bit like getting into the driving seat of someone else’s car, we usually move the sat back or forward and then adjust the rear-view mirror. Imagine how uncomfortable we would be if we did nothing. By making a few tweaks to your monitor and a few adjustments to your chair you may find that your chair isn’t as uncomfortable as you think!
Thanks for reading
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