Since early 2020, millions of workers are working from home. While there are many positives to a remote environment, there is one significant negative—increased musculoskeletal and neck pain. As it turns out, working on the couch is not great for your health, and even sitting at a desk or table can cause discomfort.
It's fairly obvious that sitting on a squishy sofa for hours a day isn't great for your spinal health, but why the discomfort when you're sitting in a traditional chair at a normal-height surface. In this article, we'll go over why your chair is causing you pain, and find the best solutions to address both the pain and discourage chronic injury.
What is Ergonomics?
Ergonomics is the science and study of how people function physically in their work environment. It's also known as human engineering or biotechnology.
Ergonomists design workspaces that fit the worker. They analyze how workstation objects, typically chairs, desks, and monitors—are best designed or arranged for the worker's well-being.
The most common work-related injury is back pain, which encompasses a wealth of individual symptoms that are most easily defined as simply "my back hurts". Most people consider everything from their neck down to their hips to be their back and refer to general back pain, without realizing that their leg pain can also result from musculoskeletal misalignment.
Invest in an Ergonomic Chair
A traditional chair or kitchen barstool is not designed for prolonged sitting. If you have a home office and a dedicated office chair, you're still likely to deal with musculoskeletal pain unless you have ergonomic office seating.
What Are the Benefits of Ergonomic Seating
What is an ergonomic chair? An ergonomic chair is one that has been specifically designed with special considerations for good posture, support, and long hours of sitting every day. Unlike a straight desk chair, or even a comfortable upholstered chair, an ergonomic chair has several features that promote better posture and relieve back, leg, and neck pain.
Any chair you sit in for 40-plus hours a week should fundamentally be customized for your body, and that's exactly what an ergonomic chair does. Here is a list of ergonomic chair benefits and features:
An adjustable seat height means that regardless of your height, you can sit comfortably at your workspace. Ergonomic seating has a pneumatic lever that lets you set the seat height so that your feet are flat on the floor, your thighs are horizontal, and your arms are even with the surface.
The seat depth and width are also important. The standard size is 17-20 inches wide, but depth can vary. You should be able to sit snugly against the chair back with a couple of inches between the backs of your knees and the seat. The seat back should also be adjustable.
Also, your chair should have good lower back and lumbar support. Without this support, people slouch and put stress on the lower spine causing lower back pain.
Finally, the backrest of an ergonomic chair has a standard width between 12 and 19 inches. This too should be adjustable, so that it supports the natural lumbar curve.
All of the adjustments should lock in place once you've fixed the settings.
A comfortable seat is also a big consideration, so upholstery is better than a hard surface. The padding needs to be substantial enough to be comfortable through a long day. Choose a fabric that's breathable so it doesn't get too hot.
Just like the seat, which is critical for lower back and leg comfort, supportive armrests combat upper back, shoulder, and neck strain. The arms should adjust so that your forearms are not on an armrest when you're typing.
Ergonomic chairs swivel so that you can reach around your workstation for anything without straining your back or shoulders.
Adjust Your Posture
Even the best ergonomic chair won't help with pain if you don't use it properly, and that includes correcting your office chair posture. If you've been slouching on the sofa for the past couple of years, here are a few tips for healthier sitting.
- Adjust your monitor so that the top is at eye level
- Keep your arms parallel to the floor
- Sit up straight, don't slouch over
- Put both feet flat on the floor
- Don't cross your legs, as this causes a decrease in circulation
An ergonomic chair is clearly more than an investment in your home office, it's an investment in your health and wellbeing. Juniper Office offers a wide range of ergonomic chairs for home or office so that you and your employees aren't slowed down with poor posture and an aching back. At Juniper, we can even customize your ergonomic chairs to complement your decor. Visit us online today to build your ergonomic chair, and explore our other workstation supplies.
Is Work from Home Causing More Back Pain? Here is What You Should Know. https://www.squareonephysio.ca/is-work-from-home-causing-more-back-pain-here-is-what-you-should-know/
UNC Institutional Integrity and Risk Management: Environment, Health, and Safety: Ergonomics. https://ehs.unc.edu/workplace-safety/ergonomics/
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety: OSH Answers Fact Sheets. https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/ergonomics/sitting/sitting_poor.html