Being seated in your typical office chair for lengthy periods of time certainly can lead to back pain. Either low back pain develops, or an existing back issue worsens in time.
While sitting down feels relaxing most days, this does not take away the fact that sitting is a static position, and much of the ‘work’ done in sitting is ‘exerted’ by not just the back and shoulders, but also the arms and legs. It’s also worth mentioning that pressure can, in time, accumulate on spinal discs and back muscles.
The pressure to the back can add up quickly because most people, when sitting, tend to slouch down or slouch over in their chairs. This posture strains spinal discs and overstretches spinal ligaments. Other spinal structures are also adversely affected. In time, incorrect sitting posture damages the spine and contributes to the worsening of any back pain that’s been affecting a person for days now.
A remedy to the problem mentioned above goes beyond just being seated on an ergonomic chair when working; it’s also important that it’s properly set up. The proper set up of an office chair involves adjusting the chair to the person’s body proportions to enhance comfort and reduce spinal aggravation.
Once a workstation has been set up, a user can then proceed with adjusting the chair according to his or her physical measurements. Below are important guidelines to follow to ensure that an ergonomic mesh chair is set up correctly which will thus stress the spine less.
Measure the elbows
A user begins by seating himself comfortably and as close to his work desk as possible so his upper arms are parallel with the spine. He should then rest his hands on the desktop or computer keyboard. If the elbows aren’t positioned at 90 degrees each, office chair height should then be adjusted until this angle is achieved.
Measure the thighs
The user needs to find out if he can slide his fingers easily under his thigh at the front edge of the chair. If the thigh and part of the chair tighten around the fingers, the feet need to be propped up with a footrest. If the user is very tall, and the gap between thigh and chair is more than one finger’s width, the workstation should be higher so office chair height can be raised.
Measure the calves
With the user’s bottom pushed against the back of the chair, he should try passing a fist between the front part of the office chair and the back part of the calf. If this isn’t easy for him to do, the seat is too deep. To adjust seat depth, the backrest can be adjusted. Built-in lumbar support, if available, can also be used. If it’s not available, a pillow or support cushion can be used.
Lower back support
The user should press his bottom against the chair’s back. Lumbar support, if available on the ergonomic chair, should be used to make the lower back slightly arch so he doesn’t slouch down or slump forward as time passes. If the chair does not have lumbar support, any cushion that serves the aforementioned purpose can be used. This can seem uncomfortable, but built-in or added lumbar support is important to minimise back strain.Slouching or slumping in the office chair places added stress to the lower back structures, particularly the lumbar discs.
Determine resting eye level
Here are the steps to determining resting eye level—shut both eyes whilst comfortably seated with head facing front. Slowly open both eyes. The gaze needs to be set at the middle part of the computer screen. If the screen is either lower or higher than normal gaze, it should either be raised or lowered to minimise strain to the upper part of the spine.
Adjust office chair armrest so it lifts both arms a little at the shoulders. Using an armrest is important not only to remove any strain off both shoulders and upper spine, but also to decrease a user’s likeliness to slouch forward.
The above is not the only solution to a sore back caused by being seated all day. Another great solution is the use of a sit stand workstation. Its use allows one to work on a computer efficiently even when the desire to stand due to back pain is strongest—a sit stand workstation’s height can be adjusted to accommodate anyone who wishes to work whilst standing.