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. Then we stand and straighten our spines and experience sometimes a twinge of pain in our neck, shoulders and an ache in our lower back. Deskbound tasks demand focus and concentration and, when we’re battling a heavy workload or are particularly inspired, it’s easy to lose ourselves in our assignments and forget entirely about our bodies and how they might be positioned.
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. It’s time to check to see if your seat and how you use it is causing you unnecessary damage. Read on for seven points to consider about your office chair:
- Balance and transition
We have all read that remaining seated for long periods of time at work is detrimental to our health but what is less commonly reported is that standing for too long can be detrimental. It would seem that the flexibility to stand or sit alternately at regular intervals is the recommended balance. One solution might be to use a sit/stand desk. If you’re going to alternate between sitting and standing, it’s advised that you slide to the front of your seat before getting up to avoid putting pressure on the spine.
- No back-rest tilt
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 agony.
Not every occupation allows us 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.
- Missing 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 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 benefit 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.
- Style over content
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.
- No spin
Chairs set in a fixed position are fine for some jobs, but if your workspace demands your attention in a variety of areas then this can have 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.
- The wrong fit
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 but first tailor it to your personal needs. Many people in offices across the UK are sitting badly right now and are unaware they have the option to adjust their chairs. Investigate your chair and look for levers under the seat or adjustable cogs at the base.
Customise this most essential piece of office equipment to the best fit for your build. 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.
- Incompatible with your 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. They also feature a footrest for keeping your feet flat no matter how high you’re sitting.
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, 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.