Office Chairs and Ergonomics in the Workplace

For many employees who work long hours sitting in front of a computer, their office chair has caused endless frustration in the form of aches and pains. Neck and back discomfort, however, do not have to be normal parts of your professional life.

Ergonomics is the study of how well workers are able to adapt to their professional environment while staying healthy and productive. Therefore, an ergonomically designed office chair would be one that takes into consideration common neck and back ailments, whether these ailments are a result of muscle strain, ligament sprain or degenerative spine conditions.

Choosing the right office chair

Below are some things to consider when choosing an ergonomically designed office chair:

  • Lumbar support – The contours of the chair should fully support your lower back.
  • Thoracic (middle back) and cervical (neck) support – The back of the chair should be wide enough to provide ample support to your upper back, shoulders and neck, so that the lower back is not forced to support as much weight.
  • Circulation – The seat of the chair should be properly sloped so that blood can freely circulate through your legs, upper body and brain.
  • Material – A woven mesh material generally adapts to your natural spinal curvature more easily than a chair made of padding or foam.
  • Balance – A chair should be able to pivot and move with your body easily, so no matter what position you sit in you have proper posture support.
  • Pelvic support – The natural tilt of your pelvis needs to be stabilized, both when you recline and when you sit forward. Any pelvic imbalance transfers that stress directly to your lumbar spine.

Other ways to mitigate back pain while at work

If you have been diagnosed with a degenerative spine and have developed a ruptured disc, bone spurs, a disc protrusion, spondylolisthesis or any other deteriorative spine disease, there are a variety of ways that ergonomic office equipment, in conjunction with other precautions and lifestyle changes, can help reduce your symptoms of pain, numbness, tingling or weakness. Take frequent breaks, stretch often and always practice proper posture.