Did you know that one in four adults in the U.S. sits for at least 8 hours a day? Given the steady growth of sedentary jobs, the figure isn’t surprising. In fact, a typical office worker can sit for 15 hours every day.
Prolonged sitting has contributed to several adverse health conditions. What’s more, extended sitting can lead to neck pain and back pain, depending on your seat. Now that sitting is inevitable, investing in the right chair can make a difference.
Are you wondering how to know the right chairs to avert back and neck pain? Here are 8 tips to consider when choosing chairs for long-term health.
1. Get a Fitting Chair
Checking the size of the seat pan when buying a chair is crucial. An ideal seat pan ought to be about an inch wider on both sides when you sit. With the right size seat pan, you should comfortably sit and touch the back of your chair.
The standard width of a chair should be about 17 to 20 inches. The depth should be comfortable enough for a user to lean back on the backrest. The spaces between the back of your knees and the chair need to be at least 2 inches.
When checking the width and depth of the seat pan, consider the material used. A seat pan’s material needs to be comfortable. The thickness should be more, especially at the back, as it holds a significant part of the body weight.
2. Confirm a Chair’s Backrest is Right for Your Body
Ergonomic chairs should be at least 12 inches wide. In chairs where the seat has a separate backrest, ensure that the backrest has an adjustable angle and height. The backrest should support your spine’s natural curve while still maintaining lumbar support.
Most ergonomic chairs have the backrest and the seat as one piece. For this seat, the backrest ought to adjust backward and forward. It should further have a locking mechanism to deter unwanted movement once you determine the preferred angle.
When buying an office chair, ensure that the backrest is comfortable and supportive. Your weight and height are critical factors when choosing the type of backrest. The backrest should allow your spine to curve without causing you unnecessary pain.
3. Lumbar Support
Adequate lower back support will save you from back pain. Your lumbar spine has a curve that tends to slouch if you sit for long without proper lumbar support. Slouching further strains the lower spine, which can have adverse health effects.
You should get ergonomic chairs with lumbar adjustment for both depth and height. These provisions ensure that users get a seat with proper fitting, which helps support the lower back curve.
If your office chair doesn’t have the right lumbar support, a back cushion lumbar support pillow would be a great addition. You can check out more information on the features of these pillows and how they can help with your back and neck pain. While you can roll a towel for lower back support, a pillow is ideal, as you won’t have to keep shaping it.
4. Choose a Chair With Proper Armrests
An ergonomic chair needs armrests. These essential yet controversial office chair features support the forearms in a stable position. Resultantly, your elbows will be resting at 90 degrees as your wrists remain at the same level as your working table.
Opponents of armrests argue that they can cause users to have shrugging shoulders and tendinitis due to the pressure exerted on the elbow and forearm’s soft tissues. However, these issues can be addressed by getting armrests that are right for your workspace and body time. So, what should you look for in an armrest?
Armrests need to have an adjustable height. You should be able to adjust the armrests to be low enough to fit under your desk when necessary and high to level the desk when working. The width needs to be adjustable to allow you to rest your elbows under your shoulders.
It would help to know how to adjust the armrests to have the right height. You don’t want to have them too high as they will cause your shoulders to shrug. More importantly, ensure that your armrests have the same height to avoid leaning on one side, which can have adverse long-term health impacts.
5. Consider the Seat’s Height
Arguably, the best chair should allow you to rest your legs on the floor while maintaining a knee bend of about 90%. A considerably high chair exerts excessive pressure on the knees and back.
If the chair is quite low, your thighs will experience an upward trajectory that can pressure your hip bones. As such, it would be best to get an adjustable chair to achieve the right height. You can make adjustments depending on the functionality you want to achieve.
The right chair should have a seat pan tilt, which enables the thighs to point downwards. The lumbar spine benefits from the seat pan tilting. If your chair doesn’t have this adjustment option, invest in a cushion that aligns the spine correctly.
While a standard cushion might not have all the features of an ideal seat pan, getting one that encourages a thigh-down posture can help. You’ll be in a position to maintain the right posture despite prolonged sitting.
6. Get a Chair with a Swivel Feature
An ergonomic chair should rotate smoothly for you to access different parts of your desk with minimal straining. A swivel chair has this functionality. Besides the enabled movements, a swivel chair provides additional comfort, especially if you opt for a recliner seat.
Most swivel chairs are adjustable, and they have armrests. They come in a variety of designs, and you can choose an option that complements your home or office. However, you shouldn’t trade functionality for aesthetics.
If you’re among the 83% of Americans with sedentary jobs, a swivel seat will make the hours you spend seated in the office productive. The chair reduces straining, which leads to increased work productivity. Without a rotating chair, back and neck pain will be imminent if you keep straining to pick things from the other corner of the desk.
Swivel seats allow rotation of 360 degrees. You can move in any direction and work from any spot in the office. If you want chairs for improving posture, this seat has features that will allow your spine to maintain the right alignment.
7. Prioritize a Five-Pedestal Base Office Chair
The mobility of your chair is an essential consideration if you spend several hours a day sitting. A five-pedestal base allows chairs to glide across the floor seamlessly. Just like the swivel, the wheels prevent straining as you try to reach objects that are a distance from your desk.
It would be best to go for office chairs with at least five casters as four are likely to tip over, especially on an uneven floor. Chairs with five wheels have better balance and can withstand the considerable weight. The chair won’t break easily with the five-pedestal base.
For carpeted workspaces, you ought to be specific when looking for the wheeled chairs. You don’t want to achieve comfortable sitting but have a worn-out carpeted floor. Given the durability of five-wheeled office chairs, this option remains ideal if you sit for more than four hours a day.
8. Seat Material
When buying any seat, consider the covering. The different upholstery materials used for chair covers have their pros and cons. It would help to choose the covering based on your workspace setting and usability.
In a work area where you’re likely to spill drinks, vinyl coverings can be ideal as they are spill-resistant. However, vinyl doesn’t breathe, meaning that the seat will get uncomfortable as moisture accumulates. Cloth upholstery is another option that you can consider if cleaning and maintenance are not much of a concern.
Whichever material you go for, ensure that the padding is adequate. If you’ll be sitting for extended hours, extra padding improves comfort. The last thing you want is to keep changing position due to an inadequately padded chair.
You can add high-density seat cushions. They will support your body weight, leading to better relaxation. What’s more, the cushions will reduce the pressure around your pelvic bone and lower back.
Uncomfortable Chairs Can Lead to Back and Neck Pain With Prolonged Usage
The chair you choose for your office or playing games has a significant impact on your long-term health. If you’re sitting for long periods, getting the right seat should be a priority. With the right ergonomic chair, back and neck pain will be a thing of the past.
Given that these chairs have different manufacturers, you need to be keen when choosing one over the other. Some of the features to look for in a good chair include backrest, armrests, lumbar support, swivel, height, and width. The checklist will guide you in getting a chair that will ensure that your health isn’t jeopardized.
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