Back Pain

Updated 06 July 2015

Sitting pretty

Experts estimate that we spend in excess of nine hours in the seated position.


Between driving, working at the computer and watching TV, experts estimate that we spend in excess of nine hours in the seated position.

Consequences of poor seating
Firstly, research has revealed that backache is one of the major health factors influencing a person’s work performance and is responsible for a large percentage of lost working days. It is commonly known that pain makes a person tired and can significantly interfere with a person's quality of life and general functioning.

Experts estimate that we spend up to 80,000 hours seated the consequence of which can be: tension, headaches, backache, impaired digestion and concentration. Poor posture places tension in various parts of the body and reduces ones breathing capacity significantly.


(Incorrect seated posture)                      (Correct seated posture)

The benefits of an ergonomic chair
Research by Dauphin shows that a seat tilt of up to -12° is ideal as it allows the position of the pelvis, when sitting, to be similar to its position when standing and this helps to minimise strain on the user's spinal column, thus creating the healthiest posture.

Furthermore, this posture allows room for the lungs to expand to full capacity, which allows oxygen to flow freely to the brain and increase energy. Therefore, one way to potentially conquer tiredness is to address bad seating habits and ensure that you have a chair that is ergonomically sound.

So how does choosing an ergonomic chair affect ones energy levels? 

  1. Traditional type office chairs were not designed with the human body’s movements in mind whereas ergonomic chairs are designed to work with the human body and give support where needed. 
  2. An ergonomic chair has multifunctional, height adjustable armrests that can be set to ensure your shoulders are completely relaxed when your arms are resting on the desk, taking the strain off your neck and shoulders. This ensures that there is no pain in these areas of the body and that you are well supported. Choosing an ergonomic office chair that supports your own posture can help to prevent injuries to the back and neck whilst improving your overall productivity and energy levels at the same time.    

10 tips for healthy sitting

  1. Always place your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Always maintain contact with the backrest.
  3. Correct your bearing if you slide forwards on the seat.
  4. Avoid extreme bending to one side whilst seated.
  5. Only reach down to objects near the floor by bending forwards over the legs.
  6. Do not cross your legs when sitting forwards.
  7. Practise active, dynamic sitting as often as possible.
  8. Train an upright posture without backrest every now and then, provided the chair has an automatic seat tilt adjustment.
  9. When standing up and sitting down, always bring the centre of gravity for the extended upper part of the body over your knees.
  10. Perform regular exercise at your workplace.

- (Source: Dauphin HumanDesign Group)


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Backache expert

Susan qualified as a Physiotherapist in 1990, and completed her master’s degree in Physiotherapy in 2013 at the University of Pretoria. She has a special interest in human biomechanics, as well as the interaction between domestic and work-related ergonomics.

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