It is very likely that most of us have suffered from back aches at one time or another. However it is probably fair to say that sitting in an uncomfortable office chair for long periods of time will exacerbate the problem. Sitting in an office chair does a number of things which will contribute to persistent back aches –
- Office chairs encourage slouching which can cause overstretching and strain on spinal ligaments, discs and surrounding spinal structures. Bad posture, over time, can cause both damage and pain.
- The static nature of sitting in an office chair means that there is an increase in stress in the back, neck, shoulders etc which then causes pressure on the back muscles and discs.
Thankfully it is relatively easy to avoid the classic traps of slouching all day long in an office chair – invest in an ergonomic chair and make sure it is correctly adjusted to your individual proportions which will then reduce the stress and pressure on your neck and back. In order to avoid back aches it is important to maximize back support and maintain good posture at all times. Once your work station has been assigned and properly laid out the next step is to ensure correct adjustment of your ergonomic office chair.
- Elbows – once sat in your normal position check that your upper arms are parallel to your spine, when your hands are rested on the desk or computer the elbows should be at a 90-degree angle to your spine – if not adjust accordingly.
- Thighs –
your finger should be able to easily fit under the thigh at the edge of your office chair – if not then use a footstool or raise the work surface and the height of the chair.
- Calves – it should be possible to pass a clenched fist between your calf and chair whilst sitting fully back in the chair – if not then you may need to use a lumbar support or adjust the chair.
- Lower back support – with your bottom fully back against the chair your back should be slightly arched in order to avoid slumping, this low back support will help to avoid too much strain on your back and thus avoid back aches developing. If there is no support of this nature in your office chair consider the use of a lumbar pillow or some other kind of support – even a rolled up pillow will suffice.
- Eye level – once you have established the correct position of you and your chair and you are sitting comfortably then close your eyes whilst your head is facing forward. When you open your eyes you should be looking straight at your screen – if not then make the necessary adjustments which will help you to avoid neck strain.
- Armrests – using an armrest is an important part of back maintenance – it relieves some of the strain and stress which may be present in the neck and shoulders and also prevents slouching.
It should be remembered that no matter how good your office chair is sitting still for long periods does nobody any good and should be avoided at all costs. Try to move or stretch of a couple of minutes every half hour or so which will greatly reduce stiffness and strain and so help avoid the risk of developing back aches