Modern Office Furniture

Five Ways to Reduce Your Back Pain In-Office With An Ergonomic Chair

Autonomous Autonomous | Mar 5, 2018
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Do you find yourself hunching over your desk, with an aching back and strained neck after each work day? Are you constantly crossing and uncrossing your legs, leaning to one side, or feeling restless and fidgety? An ergonomic chair with back support is the most integral element of your desk setup, and should be the first item you purchase for your workstation, as well as the workstations of your employees.

Office workers can spend more than 8 hours a day at their workstations, which makes the design of your desk furniture an integral part of the company’s hardware. How people sit, move, and bend during the day affects how they think, how they feel, and how productive they are. It also affects their health.

This is an obvious fact for many workers, but others don’t notice the damage to a non-ergonomic space until it’s too late. One of the most common problems is repetitive strain injury, defined as an injury to the musculoskeletal and nervous systems that may be caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression, or sustained or awkward positions. These injuries can result in things like Carpal Tunnel, Sciatica, Scoliosis, and nerve damage. Ergonomic chair design may be the most crucial part of an ergonomic workspace.

The spine is the primary alignment structure of the body. Sitting for long periods of time is already bad enough, and sitting in non-ergonomic ways causes extra damage. When the spine becomes out of alignment or stressed due to muscle tension and shifts in repetitive muscle use, the entire body is then out of alignment—a condition that worsens over time and reveals itself in many kinds of pains and diseases. Muscles have to accommodate this misalignment and the whole body begins to move and rest in unnatural and strenuous ways. Unfortunately, while many workers are focused on their tasks, they may not notice how these poses and movements affect them until they’ve performed them hundreds of times.

A well-designed ergonomic chair for back pain, such as Autonomous’s Ergo 2, can reduce the causes of spinal stress and misalignment by allowing the user to sit in a full spectrum of completely balanced, supported, and moveable positions.

How does the office chair back support work?

There are some rules of thumb in using (and choosing) your perfect ergonomic chair:

Mold your chair to your body

Your seat height should be one-quarter of your body height. Your body should feel balanced and weightless. There should be neck support, lumbar support, and arm support seamlessly integrated into the ergonomic chair design. Your arms should bend at a 90-degree angle. Most office furniture is designed for people who fall within a 5’5” to 5’9” height range, so if you fall outside this you may need to seek out a more customized ergonomic office chair with back support.

Make sure your chair is suited to your specific work and body movements

How to Think of the range of tasks you do at your desk. For typing based work you settle in certain posture, and assume another whilst sketching by hand. Be mindful of what support you need from your ergonomic chair for your individual way of working, and tweak this continually. You will have to adjust the ergonomic chair design for each task or posture, or buy multiple types of ergonomic chairs with back support.

Change your posture and chair settings often

In addition to getting the right ergonomic chair design for your specific workstation, you work with your chair to prevent your body from settling into one static pose. An ergonomic chair for back pain should be adjustable at all points — it should include a tiltable base and back panel, as well as head and neck support. Deluxe ergonomic chair designs tend to include features that make switching between different poses instinctive. Everything in your ergonomic chair design should be easily moveable but stable.

For instance a quick-pull lever for the back panel that goes from a 90-degree to 60-degree angle, and which also tilts the seat panel downward for resting. Speaking of which, you should stand up, stretch, and move at least every 60-90 minutes. Taking regular breaks is important for the entire body -- the brain is a muscle, too, after all. Autonomous’s SmartDesk 3 includes an app that knows when you’ve been sitting for this long, and will send you reminders to take breaks and even order meals. 

What particular stretches and movements should you do on these breaks

Spinal stretches - Plenty of spinal stretches can be found in yoga and pilates warm ups

Leg and foot stretches - Try these stretches while sitting.

Power Walking - Either take a walking lunch break, or try making your meetings walking meetings. If your office is in a city, we recommend taking your camera or headphones and going on a brief urban expedition.

Chatting with a co-worker - This one is more for your mind and mood than your body, but it’s important to give yourself occasional social breaks to connect with other people. You’ll feel re-energised after connecting with a colleague, no matter how briefly, especially if you tend to work in silence.

Playing a game - It’s become somewhat of a cliche for startup offices to have ping pong tables, but they’re there for good reason: ping pong and similar games are easy for players of any fitness level, and involves strategic thinking to keep the mind sharp. You could also set up a table football or chess tournament.

Arm and neck stretches - These “deskercise” stretches for the upper body are worth doing every day.

Jumping Jacks and Pushups - You might have to find a nearby park for this one, depending on how comfortable you are doing aerobics in front of your boss, but quick aerobic exercises like this help redistribute the blood flow after hours of sedentary poses. They also aid in digestion and give your brain an oxygen boost.

Straight-up Gym Sessions - Many gyms and fitness studios offer high-intensity lunch hour fitness class to get your blood pumping.

 Instead of awkwardly twisting your body, you should use the ergonomic chair’s swivel function to manoeuvre your upper body around your desk, for example when taking a landline call whilst on the computer. This again prevents your body from moving in jarring ways, or from putting excessive stress on the muscles on one side of your body. You should never be turning your neck, shoulders, or waist to look at something or reach an item on your desk. Any good ergonomic chair for back pain will have a five legged base with wheels and a fully rotational seat.

 

While the ergonomic chair design should be adjustable, it should also be stable enough to support stillness in the body to allow you to stay centered. Proper lumbar support is especially crucial in ergonomic chair back support — with it, your body will naturally sit up straight and your eyes focus straight ahead. Try to alternate arms for different tasks, to make sure you’re using your body in a proportionate way. Very often we use one side of our bodies more, cross our legs, or slouch to a certain side, causing muscular strain. While working, your ergonomic chair and desk should be set up in a way that you never lean on one arm or leg. You should always be looking straight ahead and your feet should be flat on the floor, unless you’re using a treadmill desk or a bicycle seat like this one from Autonomous. Your ergonomic chair back support should be able to accommodate this straightforward posture, as well as the resting ones.
If you already have some back, neck, or shoulder issues, then an ergonomic chair for back pain is an absolute requirement. Every day in a non-ergonomic environment will worsen these issues and compound them over time. Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is an inherent part of improper workspace furniture. To avoid it, your ergonomic chair should be coupled with general exercise and specific physical therapy for any overworked muscle groups

Chatting with a co-worker

Sadly, just buying an ergonomic chair with back support isn’t enough. You have to know what additional features to look out for. It’s also counterproductive to buy an ergonomic chair for back pain, then fail to use the ergonomic chair design to its full capabilities. If you make sure to do your research and follow the guidance above your ergonomic chair with back support will prove an invaluable asset to your workspace, and will enhance how you work throughout the day, every single day.

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