Our world today is one massive engine. And to run it, we all have to work! Massive corporations, small businesses, factories, and Governments, everywhere there are people of all ages and gender working from morning till evening, making a living, running these organizations. Wherever we work, the most important thing is the working environment. Our desk, chair, the room where we sit are all part of the work environment.
For optimum productivity and efficiency, all good organizations take care of their employees’ health and well-being. Imagine sitting on a desk for 8 to 10 hours a day, our spinal health is the most important concern. Ordinary work activities such as lifting heavy loads and sitting on a chair for long periods of time can cause serious back pain and spinal injuries. In fact, it is the most common type of injury in the workplace. This is where ergonomics come into play.
Ergonomics is the process of designing or arranging workplaces, products, and systems so that they fit the people who use them. It is a branch of science in which human abilities and limitations are studied. These studies then result in improving the interaction of people with environments, systems, and products.
Ergonomics does not only refer to office desks and chairs as commonly thought. It involves designing things such as health and safety, sports, leisure activities, and workspaces for people. The main aim is to minimize the risk of injury or harm to people in workplaces.
Coming back to spinal cord and back related injuries, application of ergonomic principles can help prevent injuries and help maintain a healthy back.
Features to Look Out for
While buying a chair that will maintain a healthy back, keep the following points in mind:
This is a very important factor while choosing a chair. When you have to sit for long hours on a chair, it must be adjustable enough to be tweaked exactly according to your level of comfort.
Any chair is considered a good ergonomic chair if it features many levels of adjustments. Since every single user’s anatomy differs, there can be no standard settings and that is why a chair that is adjustable in many ways is considered a good chair.
Some of the features that should be adjustable are the height of the chair, the angle of incline of the back in relation to the seat, depth of the seat and height of the backrest. The chair’s back should be constructed in a way so as to provide the correct lumbar support. This is a critical factor because if it is not addressed properly, it can cause a stiff back, sore muscles around the lower or upper back and sometimes serious injuries and deformation of the spine.
Upon reclining, the backrest should remain firmly in place and support your back. This can be easily checked by sitting on the chair in a reclining position. The chair’s seat maintains its angle with the back similar to a rocking chair and does not drop away whether straight or in an inclined position.
The ideal chair should swivel effortlessly and not hinder free movement. The ideal movement is not stiff but also not too loose. It is just right when you want it to move. An easily movable chair is of the essence for good back health. You can swivel it around rather than stretching at awkward angles and putting your back at risk of being injured.
The material the chair is made of is very important because it needs to be just right for the environment you are working on. Stiff wheels will not do well on a carpeted office floor. It will take more effort to move the chair across the floor if need be.
Likewise, wheels made of any material that causes less friction between its surface and the floor will skid around uncontrollably if the floor is made of stone or wood.
The material of the seat and back should be such which does not cause sweating and is breathable. The seat and back should be appropriately padded and not hard. The cushioning on the seat and back should be such so as to absorb minor shocks and holds you firmly in place.
A chair’s looks are not important when it comes to lumbar health. But if a chair is ergonomically perfect, why not indulge in a little treat for the eyes. Shortlist all the best chairs, and then choose the one that is the prettiest among them because your chair is what you’ll look at first thing in the morning in your workspace and also the last one.
Having said that, never buy a chair solely for its looks. Sometimes manufacturers sell their product based on looks alone and the naïve buyer is lured into their trap because the product is so attractive. Do not fall for looks alone and go for comfort over looks.
Generally, the costlier the chair, the more the manufacturers have invested in research and development for creating a chair with better ergonomics. Look for the chair that has the most features related to adjustability and comfort, longer warranty and durability.
Investing in the right chair, even if a little costly, will save you from a lot of trouble later.
The 3 Best Ergonomic Chairs
Having listed out all the features to look out for while buying a chair, below are some of the best chairs available in the market that are high on ergonomics and good for your lumbar health.
- Herman Miller SAYL Office Chair
This office chair is extremely lightweight, ergonomically designed, perfect figure hugging and compact. It has hinge points designed in a way which enables the user to flex the pelvic area and provide support to it.
The seat is made of a material called elastolex. It adjusts according to the contours of your body so perfectly that sitting in it for long periods of time will cause your back no grief. It can be easily tweaked according to your body and comfort. With all the comfort comes beauty. Therefore, this chair is a complete package.
- Liberty Office Chair
At first glance, this chair looks like any other. But wait till you hear the features! It boasts an automatic and weight-sensitive recline which means it will always support your lumbar area perfectly even if you shift your position or sit in a different posture. This amazing chair automatically adjusts to your body position and weight and provides you with all-around protection and support. Therefore, it wouldn’t be wrong to call it a chair for everyone. Forget to adjust manually. This is the answer to all your low maintenance, self-adjustable, ergonomic chair dreams.
- Herman Miller Aeron
Although quite expensive, this design beauty is also one of the best ergonomic chairs in the market. The brand speaks for itself. Herman Miller is the most famous brand for office chairs and rightly so. It manufactures some of the best chairs available in the market for anyone who takes their back health seriously.
The Aeron comes with a whopping 12-year warranty. This chair is designed in a way that it supports different parts of the body differently. There are eight special zones on this chair that come with differing tension. These zones render the precise level of comfort to eight different parts of the body as required.
The material is a breathable mesh pellicle and it is quite easy to adjust this chair according to individual comfort. It comes in 3 different sizes in order to cater to a wide variety of clientele.
Investing in an ergonomically sound chair might seem like an arduous task, one that requires a sound investment. Such an investment may seem frivolous to some but for those who possess some foresight, this investment will actually save you from a lot of pain, discomfort and in extreme cases disability in the long run.