This is the type of advice you will hear from your doctor at your next checkup: eat more fruits and vegetables, eat less junk food, get plenty of sleep, and exercise. If you have flu symptoms, he or she might prescribe you an antibiotic. If you have discomfort in your muscles, he or she might recommend taking over the counter pain killers. But what if instead of giving you more pills to take, your physician asked you about the chair you sit in at work? What if it was where and how you sit that matters, not that you sit at all? What if the discussion was not about sitting less, but sitting better? If this conversation ever actually occurred between you and your doctor, and he recommended a cure in the form of changing the furniture you use on the job, your prescription slip would read like this: Ergonomic Chair.
“Ergonomic” is not one of those “every day” words. It is traditionally used when referring to workplace design and is defined as “intended to provide optimum comfort and to avoid stress or injury.” An ergonomic chair, then, is one that is built for the office setting to help employees feel more comfortable and healthy for those eight to ten hours a day, forty to sixty hours per week.
Ergonomic chairs differ from normal chairs in that it can be adjusted in several ways:
- The backrest has an adjustable height and angle. It can shift as far as nineteen inches wide, depending on the model.
- Arm rests. Someone who is particularly short and / or slim will instantly feel more comfortable when they can move the arm rests closer to the torso. If it is needed, arm rests can also be swiveled or even retracted back into the back rest.
- Seat length and depth. This has to be adjusted for both the weight of the user and the height. Taller users need taller seats and shorter users need shorter ones. Ideally, in order for a chair to be truly Ergonomic, it needs to have an adjustable height to fit anyone who might happen to inherit it in the workplace. If you are overweight it can be uncomfortable if your body is wider than the seat. Cushion size is yet another thing that can be adjusted.
- The ability to recline. Chairs should ideally be able to slide backwards and forwards. This allows the user to get closer to their computer to type or, perhaps, further away so that they can read the computer screen better.
Why You Need an Ergonomic Chair
Many people sit for a good portion of the day whether they are students or office workers. We sit when we eat, when we watch television, when we read books. Walking, and especially stationary standing requires more effort from the body. Generally, sitting is considered to be easier and more comfortable. However, health experts have observed that sitting too frequently puts harmful stress on the lumbar area. If you have back, hip, or shoulder problems, an Ergonomic chair can reduce the pressure on those locations and help you feel less pain. If you are healthy in those areas, this type of chair can help prevent you from ever having to endure chair – induced discomfort.
These chairs also improve your posture. Traditional square chairs almost force you to slump and slouch to feel ok. When you allow your posture to relax too frequently, the muscles that keep your spine straight can get out of shape just like your arm would if you stopped picking things up. Being more comfortable at work means that you will be able to work better! Try paying attention to how often you adjust yourself in your seat to feel more comfortable. Do not worry if you actually prefer to lie back at an angle. One supplementary feature of an Ergonomic chair is that you can purchase a footstool type extension. It is like having an ottoman to rest your feet on when you are sitting on the couch at home, but it is part of the whole frame work of the chair.
Types of Ergonomic Chairs
- Balls. Exercise balls large enough for you to sit on will force you to use muscles that you did not realize were inactive. Balancing all day forces your back to work extra hard.
- Kneeling Chairs. A kneeling chair is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of sitting on their rear ends, the employee braces their knees against a padded bench. This is kind of a compromise between sitting and standing.
- Traditional, with Ergonomic features. Some companies give customers the option to purchase tools to take a typical chair and make it adjustable. This can be as simple as adding “feet” to the chair legs, feet that can be lifted up or down using a pump with your foot.
Although an Ergonomic Chair can help you sit “better,” do not forget that it is important to take breaks. Health researchers recommend that you should stand up and take a walk at least once every sixty minutes. Try setting an alarm to remind yourself when it is time to move. If your manager is hesitant to allow you to move that much, ask if you can take your long lunch break and divide it into five to ten minute increments throughout the day.
Whether you are looking to purchase a chair for yourself, or represent a company looking to upgrade your office equipment, please remember not to be fooled by any old chair that is advertised as Ergonomic. Technically any chair can be optimally comfortable if it is adjusted to be comfortable. Employees can set their normal chair up on a platform to gain height, or rubber band extra padding over the arm rests. A chair is officially Ergonomic if it is specifically manufactured to fit your personal body dimension. This costs extra money but it is worth it. Finding or purchasing the right chair just might make your whole day at work go smoother, and make you healthier and more productive!
Is your business looking for cubicles and office furniture? ROSI has been providing office furniture to Texas businesses for more than 10 years. Visit their website and receive a complimentary space planning consultation today.