Gaming chairs are a popular tool for gamers looking to upgrade their gaming setup to be more ergonomic. But are they all they’re cracked up to be? We investigate some of the potential benefits of getting an ergonomic chair for gaming.
Like most people, perhaps you’re wondering what’s the best office chair for back pain. You want to know whether you should opt for traditional office chairs or gaming chairs with flashy qualities.
Even though you aren’t a gamer, there are a few convincing reasons why you should opt for a gaming chair, especially if you suffer from lower back pain. Sitting on the wrong chair for extended periods leads to poor posture. Poor sitting posture affects your mood, and it also affects the position of your muscles, bones, and internal organs. This exerts too much pressure on your tendons and muscles, causing irreversible conditions. Eventually, you may have trouble sitting for prolonged periods or even sitting at all.
Sitting on the wrong office chair also causes slouching, which causes breathing problems, poor blood circulation, and stiffness in the joints. All this can lead to chronic fatigue, which is an enormous concern in the modern world because of the sedentary lifestyle. Today, the average American spends over 13 hours sitting and 8 hours sleeping every day; that’s 21 hours of a sedentary lifestyle. Let’s now dive into when a gaming chair is better for your back than a normal office chair.
How Are Gaming Chairs Different from Normal Office Chairs?
Modern gaming chairs model the design of racing car seats; this makes them quite noticeable. Here’s a quick comparison between gaming chairs and standard office chairs:
- Headrest: Gaming chairs have a fixed headrest, while normal office chairs have no headrest or some have a separate headrest piece.
- Backrest: Gaming chairs feature a winged backrest, while normal office chairs have a wingless backrest.
- Seat pan: Gaming chairs feature a bucket seat, while normal office chairs have a flat seat pan.
- Seat edge: Gaming chairs have a slightly raised edge, while normal office chairs feature a sloping edge.
- Backrest recline: Gaming chairs sport a high level of recline, whereas normal office chairs feature none to high recline.
- Lumbar support: Gaming chairs feature a detachable lumbar support pillow, while standard office chairs feature fixed, adjustable, or self-adjusting lumbar support.
- Armrests: Gaming chairs feature 3D or better armrests, while normal office chairs feature 2D armrests.
- Design: Gaming chairs sport flashy colors and aesthetics, while normal office chairs feature muted colors and styles.
Ergonomically, some designs of gaming chairs make them a better choice, while others don’t.
Why Gaming Chairs Are Good for People with Back Pain
Yes, gaming chairs are good for your back, especially compared to cheaper office or task chairs. Design choices in gaming chairs, such as a neck pillow and high backrest are perfect in providing maximum support for your back. These designs also encourage good sitting posture.
A High Backrest
Often gaming chairs sport a high backrest, which offers complete support for your entire back, along with your head, neck, and shoulders.
The spine or vertebral column runs through the entire length of your back. Thus, if you suffer from back pain, an office chair with a tall backrest can support the entire vertebral column as you sit, versus just the lower back support that many standard office chairs are designed to offer.
The height of the backrest in gaming chairs ranges from 30” to 33”. So, when buying a gaming chair, measure it to make sure it’s tall enough to support your entire torso.
Most gaming chairs sport winged backrest and they’re modeled after those in racing car seats that keep the driver in place as they spin left and right. However, if you’re a large person, it’s advisable to opt for a wingless backrest or one that is extra wide to make sure there’s enough wiggle room for your back while you sit.
Lumbar Support Pillow
Often, gaming chairs sport an external lumbar support pillow to support your lower back. The lower part of your spine has a natural inward curvature. Sitting for extended periods tires out your muscles as they hold the spine in this alignment, causing slouching, making you lean forward in your chair. Ultimately, the pressure in the lumbar region builds up, causing back pain.
A lumbar support pillow takes the burden off these muscles and your lower back. Also, it fills the space between your lower back and backrest, preventing you from slouching while working or gaming. A 2010 study reports that even a basic lumbar support pillow can put your head and neck in a favorable postural alignment, eventually reducing pressure on your back.
Gaming chairs offer the most basic lumbar support as they sport either a block or just a roll of lumbar support pillow. However, this is good for the back in two ways:
- Almost all gaming chair’s lumbar support pillows are height adjustable, allowing you to target the exact area of your back that needs support.
- Gaming chair lumbar support are removable when you feel uncomfortable.
Lumbar support pillows on gaming chairs are detachable; if uncomfortable, however, it’s crucial to replace them with a third-party lumbar support pillow. If you suffer from back pain, a curved lumbar support pillow, or one with a cutout, is better for the posterior pelvic muscles.
External Neck Pillow
Almost all gaming chairs feature an external neck pillow that supports your neck, especially in the reclined position. This relaxes your shoulders and upper back.
The neck pillow on gaming chairs fits perfectly in the curvature of your cervical spine because all of them are height adjustable. This enables you to lean back while still maintaining your spine’s natural alignment and natural posture.
Some office chairs offer better neck support as their neck support is a separate component that is both height and angle adjustable. The cervical spine support in gaming chairs is still ergonomic.
When choosing a gaming chair, select one that has a neck pillow with straps that can go through the cutout in the headrest. This enables you to move the neck pillow up and down, to target the area where you need the support.
Robust Backrest Recline
Robust tilting and reclining are one of the most crucial features of most gaming chairs, which makes them ideal for your back. Even a $200 gaming chair allows you to tilt, rock, and recline the backrest past 135 degrees and some even to near 180-degrees horizontal. But in most office chairs, even some expensive ones, you’ll find a mid-backrest that only tilts around 10–15 degrees back, and that’s all.
A study from the University of Alberta Hospital that affirms the benefits of robust reclining in a chair observed that a seated position with a backrest recline angle of 135 degrees applies the least pressure on the back. Virtually all gaming chairs allow you to recline at a back-friendly angle. However, this is only possible in more expensive office chairs.
It’s imperative not to confuse reclining with slouching. When slouching, your entire body slides forward, compressing your neck, chest, and lower back. Slouching is one of the worst postures for back pain. Non-reclining office chairs encourage slouching and poor sitting position because they force you to slide forward to relieve pressure on your back, unintentionally adding to it.
Using a gaming chair or an ergonomic office chair can help you protect your back, facilitate good posture, and eventually reduce the risk of developing back and neck pain.
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