Almost everyone sits in an office chair or desk chair at least once a day, whether it be while working at your workstation, at home at a computer desk, or elsewhere. So it is not a big surprise that many people begin to suffer back problems from sitting in uncomfortable chairs for extended periods of time, or find that their existing problems are getting worse. Office chairs can increase the stress in the neck, back, shoulders, arms, and legs, while also adding large amounts of pressure to the discs in the spine and the muscles in the back. This is often made worse by poor posture, because people have a natural tendency to slouch in the chair. Doing that can strain the discs and surrounding areas of the spine, and overstrain the spinal ligaments.
Call 844-408-0462 to Schedule a Free Consultation
When looking for an office chair, there are several very important features to consider that can help reduce the risk of lower back pain. You should always try to have a chair where these features are adjustable, or at least properly fit the person using the chair:
- Armrests - The soft materials of the armrest reduce irritation to blood vessels and nerves. Proper armrests should be at least 2 inches wide and made of a soft material, and able to be adjusted in height and width.
- Backrest - The best chair backrests should have an outward curve that fits the small of the user's back. You should be able to adjust the height and angle of it, along with being able to move it forward and backward so that people of any size can sit in the chair comfortably.
- Chair base - Obviously, the chair needs a strong base. A proper chair should have five legs, each with a good caster (wheel) that allows the chair to move freely in every direction without any significant effort needed. You shouldn't have to strain at all to move around in the chair.
- Seat - The seat should be adjustable, with some slight cushioning. But nothing too soft!
The best way to avoid putting any extra stress on the spine while sitting at your desk at work or at home is to make the work area as comfortable as possible. To do that, follow these steps:
- The armrests should be adjusted so that when your arms are on them they are lifted slightly at the shoulders. This makes you less likely to slouch forward, along with helping to take some strain off of the neck and shoulders.
- Sit with your bottom against the back of the chair,, and then place your clenched fist between the chair and your calf. If your fist doesn't fit, you are sitting too far back and you need to move the back of the chair forward or ad some lower back support.
- Sit normally with your upper arms down and your hands on your work surface. Your elbows should be at a 90 degree angle. If not, adjust the height of the chair until they are.
- Remember good posture! You should never slump down in the chair or slouch forward, as this puts a lot of extra stress and pressure on the lower spine. You can help prevent this by using a cushion for your lower back so that it arches slightly.
- When sitting in your chair, your eye level should be right at the center of your computer screen. If not, adjust the height of the chair.
The Illinois Back Institute is dedicated to educating people, because we know that the more that you understand about your problem, the more likely you are to eliminate it. If you are suffering from Back Pain and Sciatica, we can help!