4 Tips to Adjusting Ergonomic Chairs to Reap The Benefits
Ergonomic chairs have been heavily marketed as the perfect companion for long hours at the desk. These chairs have been advertised to provide the best support that can alleviate the common ailments of office workers. From lumbar supports that prevent lower back pain to armrests and headrests that align the neck in an ideal posture, it seems like ergonomic chairs are a must-have for anyone spending long hours sitting in front of a computer. In this article, we explore whether ergonomic chairs are worth the splurge and share 4 tips on how to maximise your chair’s benefits!
Are Ergonomic chairs truly ergonomic?
The truth of the matter is that ergonomic chairs can definitely be more comfortable than regular chairs. While not curative, they can facilitate a better sitting posture which might reduce the amount of neck and back strain that is associated with prolonged sitting. This comes with a big caveat – is not a one-size-fits-all and it needs to be fitted to your needs.
Most ergonomic chairs come with multiple points of adjustment that allow you to customise and adjust it according to your body type. While some brands offer different models with different specifications for the same reason. Whichever you choose to buy, it is vital that the chair suits your body in order to reap the maximum benefits of your chair.
How can I adjust my ergonomic chair to fit me?
Most ergonomic chair owners may not be aware of how they can adjust their chair to fit them. Here are 4 tips to help you get the most out of your ergonomic chair:
1) Height of ergonomic chair
Ensure that your hips and knees are at a 90° angle with your feet firmly supported on the ground. If your tabletop is too high (or if you are fun-sized), you might need to use a footstool. Having your feet supported with your hips and knees at 90° will provide a stable foundation that will support the rest of your body.
2) Lumbar support
The lumbar spine is the bottom-most section of your back. Because it supports the weight of your whole upper body, it is constantly under high load. One study suggests that up to 80% of the global population will experience some form of lower back pain throughout their lifetime. Adjust the lumbar support on your ergonomic chair to the lower part of your spine, and do not be afraid to rest into it. It is a common misconception that constantly leaning into it can result it weakened back/abdominal muscles and cause poor posture. This is not the case. Having a good lumbar cushion that supports the natural arch of the lumbar spine should allow you to sit for longer hours.
If the armrests of your chair are adjustable, tweak it so that it is levelled with the tabletop. Your elbows should be at a 90° angle, while your shoulders should be relaxed, as opposed to being in a constant state of shrugging. Supporting the whole forearm prevents strains on the wrists and reduces the load on your upper traps. Wrist rests are not advisable – the constant pressure on the inner part of the wrist can lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
4) Neck Support
The neck support on your ergonomic chair should fit the natural arch of the neck. Adjust the height of the cushion so that your neck and the base of your head rest comfortably. If done properly, when you rest into it, your ear should be aligned with your shoulder and hip. This will reduce the load that the muscles in your neck will have to take to hold your head up. It is common to lean forward while working; reset your position when you catch yourself doing that. It might feel unnatural at first, but just like trying anything new, it will get better with time.
Seek Physiotherapy Treatment for Pain
There you go! A full guide on how to use your ergonomic chair to its fullest potential. Do note that while comfortable, it is not a magic all-cure. Sustaining any posture for too long can still result in aches and pains. The best posture is your next posture. So, keep active and take frequent breaks. Take a couple of minutes to stretch during the work day and “reset” your body.
If you are experiencing persistent neck aches or back pain, seek medical advice to prevent the pain from escalating. Early intervention can help to prevent pain from worsening. Give us a call or drop us a message to book an appointment with our team of physiotherapists for a complete assessment and treatment plan.