Those who spend their working week seated at desks understand all too well that long hours in an office chair are not always comfortable. For many, there is a definite moment of relief when it’s time to clock-off.
A bad office chair puts a lot of strain on your back, arms, neck and shoulders, leading to severe pain when standing up and straightening the spine. Your job demands you remain focused, concentrated and free from distractions. With aches and pains from uncomfortable office chairs, productivity can quickly drop, and overall wellbeing can take a hit.
Getting the right chair for your body, your workspace and the type of work you do is essential for your short and long-term health. If you’re finding your office chair is causing you bother at work, or it’s an old chair in need of some rejuvenation, tick off this list of seven helpful tips for improving the comfort it brings you.
1. Alternate Between Sitting and Standing
Research shows that sitting down for long periods, as in typical in office life, is detrimental to your health. Studies published in AHA Science Advisory and the American Journal of Epidemiology have linked sedentary lifestyles with heart problems and higher rates of mortality. To help reduce the damaging effects of sitting down all day, mix up your position and move around the office as much as you can.
The flexibility to stand or sit alternately at regular intervals is recommended throughout the day. You could even try a sit/stand desk. Promoting good health and wellbeing, it will leave you much more comfortable when you come to sit back in your office chair.
2. Keep Your Back Rest Flexible
Rigid back chairs with no rear tilt keep you in a fixed position, which is fine for short stays at your workspace, but for long hours can be problematic.
Not every occupation allows you to stand up and take a stroll. Some work, such as manning telephones or monitoring on-screen information, requires constant attention. If you can’t move around, then your seat must be able to move instead. Ergonomic office chairs that feature a tilting backrest mechanism can be a great answer to this, allowing you to reposition your body comfortably without leaving your station.
3. Adjust Your Armrests
A lack of armrests can encourage you to slump in your seat and can reduce support when you need to lean forward at your workspace. Both of these postures can have a negative impact, putting strain on your spine. Although not all office chairs feature armrests, they can be a helpful asset, allowing you additional support when leaving your seat and reducing tension in both your shoulders and neck. They can also add an extra layer of comfort.
It is important when choosing a chair that benefits from armrests, to select ones that are fully adjustable. Too high and the armrests can block you fitting at your workspace or enforce a raised shoulder posture which can lead to tension.
4. Choose Practicality Over Style
Sitting for extended lengths of time puts pressure on your lower back. Badly designed office chairs do not take this into account and can have long term effects on your physical health. The curve of the back of your chair should ideally be shaped to accommodate and even encourage healthy postures – yet also deliver comfort.
Operator office chairs provide effective support through firm but padded seats and backrests and are ideally suited for looking after your lower back over long hours. Essentially, you need to resist any temptation to select a chair that priorities style over practicality. When you feel fatigued and achy, you’ll regret not picking the serviceable office chair that ticks all the boxes in the list.
5. Make it a Swivel Chair
Manoeuvrability should be high on your list of priorities when it comes to using an office chair. If your current chair doesn’t have wheels, then you need to set about adding them or finding a new office chair. Fixed positions only serve to exacerbate the strains of office work. If areas of your workspace demand your attention, being unable to easily move to a new location can have a severely detrimental effects on your body. Struggling for out-of-reach items, such as phone systems, can put strain on your arms, shoulders and neck, and twisting in your chair can be seriously disruptive to your spine.
Swivel chairs are ideally suited to multi-tasking roles in an office environment, allowing you to move smoothly from one aspect to another of your job with minimum negative impact on your body.
6. Customise to Make it Right for you
Each one of us is unique physically so the best fit when it comes to our office chair is individual too. Don’t use your chair straight out of the box; first take some time to tailor it to your personal needs. Investigate all the levers and adjustable cogs under your seat; the key to comfort might be as easy as making a small adjustment to the height of the chair or flexibility of the back rest.
Customise this most essential piece of office equipment until you can confidently say you’re in a comfortable position that will last several hours. Your feet should always be able to rest flat on the floor, and your knees, when seated, should be raised slightly higher than your hip position.
7. Consider your Wider Workspace
You can have the most expensive, comfortable, ergonomic, supportive seat in the entire office but if it is incompatible with your desk than it can be a serious health hazard. For example, if you work at a high work surface and your chair is too short, then you will be craning your neck and straining your spine. Draughtsman office chairs are perfect for tall desks, offering plenty of adjustment so you can tailor your seat to find your ideal height.
You could also add a footrest or extra back support to your office chair to add that extra element of comfort. This is also a great suggestion if you’ve had your chair for a while and the cushioning isn’t quite what it was when it was brand new.
This idea of compatibility applies not just to your workspace but the nature of your work. For close work, that has you peering at details on your computer screen, a kneeling chair can be an excellent choice as this allows you to lean forward comfortably and maintain a healthy back. If your work has you sitting for long hours, always make sure the seat itself is spacious with plenty of room for you to move position.
By following tips like these, you should find yourself sitting comfortably as you work. Problems associated with bad posture, such as shoulder and back pain, neck strain, poor circulation, jaw pain and headaches can also be prevented by ensuring you have the right chair for your needs and you’re using it correctly.
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