If you suffer with back pain, and you believe your office chair to be the culprit, it may be time to do a little shopping for a new office chair. The key is finding the right kind of ergonomic chair, but you also need to use it the right way while you work. Here are some simple tips for reducing back pain with your office chair.
Shopping for Your Chair
When looking for a new office chair, you should choose one that has the following features:
Lumbar support. If you suffer with any type of back pain, your office chair should provide lumbar support. Good lumbar support should include a chair back that naturally conforms to the curve of your back. Additionally, the lower part of the chair should be flush with the lower back. This helps to keep the ears, shoulders, and hips in a straight line and maintain the natural, inward curve of the lower back. While shopping, look at models with an adjustable seat back that allow the user to raise and lower the lumbar support as needed. Make sure the outward curve of the chair touches the lower back.
Armrests. While armrests provide a surface to rest your arms, their purpose is actually to help maximize ergonomics. Armrests help support the weight of your upper body while sitting in your chair and working on your computer. If you use a chair regularly without an armrest, you run into the risk of putting excess strain on your neck, shoulders, and arms. As with seat backs, you should look for an office chair that comes with adjustable armrests to suit your individual height.
Right size seat. Size definitely matters here, and this is often a forgotten component of an ergonomic office chair designed to reduce back pain. Specifically, the seat should be wider than you, and it's pretty much that simple. If your legs are hanging off the edge, the chair may not give you the support that you need. A cushioned seat is also good for comfort and improved blood flow, an essential component of reducing pain.
Adjustable height. To further prevent back strain, your chair's height should be adjustable to keep your feet flat and your thighs parallel to the floor.
Wheels and swivels. A lot of office chairs come with wheels, but in addition to sliding effortlessly across your floor, you'll want a chair that also swivels. As you move around to retrieve items on your desk—like papers, staplers, or your phone—you can put unnecessary strain on your back if your chair does not move with you.
Setting Up Your Chair Ergonomically
Using your office chair correctly is vital for avoiding back pain. You already know to adjust the height of your chair so that your feet are flat, but you should also do the following:
Scoot as close to your desk as comfortably possible.
Adjust your armrests so that the upper part of your arms are parallel to your spine, and your hands rest comfortably flat on your desktop. The armrests should also lift the shoulders slightly in order to eliminate the strain in your upper back and neck.
Make sure the back of the chair is adjusted to prevent you from slouching or slumping. Sometimes having a partner examine your profile as you sit can help with this.
Ensure that your chair and monitor are adjusted so that your eyes are focused on the center of your computer screen. This is an important aspect of reducing back pain as eliminating this step can cause strain to your upper neck.
Once your office chair is all set up and you're ready to get to work, don't forget to stand up and move around regularly in order to stretch your legs and back and to improve circulation.
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