Top 7 Spine and Back Pain Facts to Help You to Sit Better
By Amy Pedersen
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Once buying your ergonomic office chair, your journey towards a better office is just beginning. Now you must correctly set up your chair and create an ergonomic environment. Once seated in your chair, proper positioning is a key element in keeping up good blood flow and body health and keep your spine and back pain from returning. Movement is critical during the work day, and proper movement is critical to good ergonomics. It all starts with knowing how to properly position your back and legs and takes lots of practice.
- The human spine is comprised of vertebrae like a stack of bones, with the bones in the lower back curve in. In between these vertebrae is a separate disk, and like an ice pack, it’s strong exterior protects a gel like substance inside. In the normal position, the space between the vertebrae and the disks are evenly filled with this “gel”. When leaning forward in an office chair when hunched over a computer, the vertebrae pushes all the gel to the rear of the back. This is not healthy for anyone and will promote injury.
- Proper lumbar support is essential for prevention of muscle and nervous system issues when seated at your office or workstation. Without this support serious injuries can occur and impede workplace production. Proper lumbar support can be found in most good office chairs that are labeled “Ergonomic”.
- Another feature that is helpful to users but is often found mostly in more expensive models is an option referred to as “synchro-knee tilt.” This allows the user’s feet to stay on the floor while supporting a straight back or in a reclining position. Ergonomics also call for your feet to be placed squarely on the floor at all times to help keep the spine in the correct position. The ratio is approximately 2 degrees for recline in each position or the back support and 1 degree for recline in each position for the seat.
- The desired position when seated in your office chair is in a slightly reclined position, therefore a tilt mechanism is needed for proper positioning. This also works to prevent future long term back problems. Some tilt mechanisms also come with locking positions to help the user properly recline into the desired position for the task at hand. Make sure not to sit upright or slouch forward in your chair and you will feel the difference with some practice.
- A headrest or high backed office chair can be helpful to the taller user or to the user who spends more time reclining than the average worker. When choosing a high backed model versus a mid or low backed model it seems to be more of a matter of taste than ergonomic needs.
- The lower back is the area affected by the most stress when sitting for a long period of time; extra lumbar support is really effective to help relieve some of the pressure to the lower back. Lumbar support can also be optioned with an adjustment scale to help place the support where needed for the user’s specific body type.
- Have your feet firmly on the floor is also very important. If your feet are not touching the floor, even with seat height adjusted, you will need to find a footrest or platform to rest your feet on. When viewing a picture of this posture on the human body, you will notice that 90 degrees is the overall effect. The arms are at an angle 90 degrees from the chest, the lower abdomen is 90 degrees from the lower leg and the upper leg is 90 degrees angled from the lower leg.
© 2007 Sit On This Ergonomics, LLC.
Amy Pedersen has worked in the Ergonomics and Office Furniture industry for over 10 years and is owner of Sit On This Ergonomics, operating a number of ergonomic websites dedicated to Office Chairs and the practice of good Workplace Ergonomics.
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Article Submitted On: December 01, 2007