Sitting in front of a computer all day long ends up causing serious spinal problems, low back pain, sciatica, herniated disk, carpal tunnel syndrome, neck, back and lumbar pain, headaches, and other health-related problems; these problems can be avoided by using a good ergonomic chair.
It is just as important to choose a good chair for work or study as it is to choose a good mattress for our rest. The time many of us spend sitting in our office chair (8 hours a day) is equal to the time we spend sleeping.
Human beings are not designed to sit, but to conduct an active life. Nature never intended that we sit in an office chair for 8 hours a day. Our body needs to move and maintain an upright position to breathe well and oxygenate our blood; movement is natural and absolutely necessary.
However, our modern lifestyle and work life limit our possibilities of movement. Our way of life has changed so drastically that correct sitting posture is vital to staying healthy and effective at work.
Progress has modified our lifestyle, but our body will need centuries to adapt to the new postures that modern life forces us to have. Due to the abusive use of computers, we remain seated more than ever before in human history.
Scientific research has come to the conclusion that sitting for periods of more than 4 hours a day leads to many diseases of a musculoskeletal nature of the spine as well as of blood and lymphatic circulation imbalances.
The use of conventional chairs at work is one of the main risk factors and this is addressed by the use of a good ergonomic chair.
The aim of ergonomic chairs is to prevent pathologies related to sedentary lifestyles, through the correct positioning of the spine and muscles, avoiding the adoption of incorrect postures.
The results are a unique freedom of movement and comfort while working, as well as the reduction of muscular, skeletal and circulatory injuries.
These chairs have been developed on the basis of rigorous biomechanical and ergonomic principles, with the aim of improving workers’ well-being, increasing efficiency and reducing damage through preventive action.
Our body has been created to remain in an upright position. Sitting is less tiring than standing, and therefore people resort to chairs to work; however, sitting places much more strain on the spine than standing, and therefore causes more problems.
Unfortunately a sedentary lifestyle is a silent killer, since the damage is not perceived while it occurs, but the symptoms occur later, that is, when the damage is already done.
For these reasons the science of ergonomics considers that being seated correctly is a fundamental factor in the prevention of our health and of course we must also dedicate time when we are not, avoiding sedentarism and adopting a dynamic and active lifestyle.
What does the word ergonomic mean?
Ergonomics is the branch of engineering that studies the influence of working conditions on productivity.
Hence, ergonomics is applied to the design of products and equipment, mainly for the workplace, with the aim of maximizing productivity by reducing fatigue, stress, discomfort, illness, and sick leave.
Currently, ergonomics is one of the fastest growing branches of occupational risk prevention.
According to the recent research carried out by The Herman Miller Group, back pain is the most expensive health problem for working adults, the second most common cause of doctor’s visits and the third most common reason for surgery.
In this case study, the behavior of 40 office employees, who spent 93% of their working time sitting, was analyzed. As a result, 83% of the employees experienced back complications at the age of 50, which were too late to remedy.
Most back problems are not due to falls, but are the culmination of slow and constant damage caused over time by a prolonged sedentary and artificial position. This is why an ergonomic chair is the best way to prevent occupational diseases.
An ergonomic chair is a work tool that allows people to do their job more productively, efficiently and healthily and to feel better at the end of the working day.
A good ergonomic chair should be designed to promote correct and active sitting, so that the person can vary his or her posture while sitting and be able to move his or her body and arms freely.
The ergonomic chair gives us the right support in relation to our weight and height, providing our body with the support and stability it needs.
Good ergonomic chairs are definitely not cheap but it is our health that is at stake. Here more than anywhere else the saying applies, cheap is expensive.
Back pain can arise from the following factors, among others:
Sitting continuously and for a long time in an unnatural position. To keep the same posture for hours, since it reduces blood and lymph circulation, and decreases the absorption of nutrients that our body needs.
Bad postures of the spine, since they produce elongation and tear of muscles and ligaments.
The excessive load of unnecessary weight on our discs since it produces fracture of the same ones.
Excessive pressure on the dorsal and leg areas that affect the blood and lymphatic circulation of the lower part of our body.
Major damages from sitting inadequately for many hours a day
Low concentration: produced by pain or lack of oxygenation of the brain
Disorders of the arms
Heaviness in the legs
Excessive muscular pressures, which hinders blood circulation
Compression of the ribcage, which prevents the lungs from expanding properly
Compression of the digestive system, resulting in poor digestion after eating
Ideal characteristics that every ergonomic chair should have.
Lumbar Support: Many traditional chairs come with a lumbar support, but true lumbar support is more than just a padded cushion. The true lumbar support is one that maintains the natural curvature of the gap between the back and the chair.
Cascading seat curvature: The edge of the chair relieves pressure on the blood vessels in the thighs, and prevents leg numbness, cold feet and varicose veins. The front edge of the seat should tilt gently downward and not put any pressure on the thigh.
Padding: It is a mistake to use heavily padded chairs. Over time, the padding adapts to bad posture of the back. The back of ergonomic chairs are rather rigid.
Mobility: The ergonomic chair allows the body to move effortlessly.
Adjustable armrests: The ergonomic chair supports the weight of the arms while we work, and not our upper back.
Depth: A chair with too deep a seat is not good for a person with a small build. When we sit with our back well supported, there should be enough space between the seat edge of the chair and our knee, so that a closed fist can fit in.
Height: The ergonomic chair has an adjustable seat height, so that the legs can form a 90° angle to the floor.
Perspiration: The ergonomic chairs are made of a mesh net, which makes it easier for the skin to perspire, and especially in summer it will prevent us from constantly sweating from the back.
Benefits of ergonomic chairs
An ergonomic chair makes the spine adopt a correct posture as it maintains the natural position of the curves of our spine.
The digestive tract is no longer constricted, so digestions after eating are optimized.
The position in the chair allows the diaphragm and the lungs to relax, so our breathing is more complete and deeper, resulting in better cellular oxygenation.
Muscle tension disappears, and pain disappears.
The weight of the body is no longer placed on the sacrum, but on the tripod formed by knees and pelvis. This makes the axis of gravity of the spine move backward, thus reducing tension on the waist, and giving the pelvis a more stable balance.
The cascading seat tilt relieves pressure on the blood vessels in the thighs, preventing leg numbness, cold feet and varicose veins.
How do I use the headrest correctly?
The headrest is not intended to be used during the 8-hour workday; if we sit down and have our head supported all the time, our head will get used to being always supported, our neck muscles will become lazy, and we will lose strength and tension to hold our head.
The headrest is made to support the head when our neck is tired. We rest our head for a while and work with support, but then we get back up and stop supporting our head.
This is the correct way to use a headrest, and that’s why the headrests on ergonomic chairs are usually tilted back a little bit.
In short, the acquisition of a good ergonomic chair is an investment in health and we should not skimp on the budget because the results and benefits will be for a lifetime.
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