12 May 2015

Is your office chair affecting your health?

Have you ever wondered if your office chair can affect your health? Health24 readers show us theirs, and we let the experts decide.

The last thing that might come to mind when you have back or shoulder pain is your the way your workstation is set up. But, it turns out that your aches and pains may well be linked to your office chair.

Sitting in the wrong chair for hours on end can do substantial damage to your back, neck, and shoulders. The office chair you thought was the most comfortable thing next to your bed, may actually be bad for your health.

We asked you to show us your office chairs (in a Health24 Facebook competition) and had them assessed by an Ergotherapy Solutions office chair specialist.

Here is what the expert had to say about your office chair:

1. The armless lumbar puncture

office chair

What's wrong with this chair?

- No lumbar (lower back) support, resulting in poor posture and back pain

- No padding on seat, resulting in pressure on the discs of the lower back

- Fixed backrest, which doesn't allow for the position of the backrest to be adjusted. This will put strain on the back muscles.

2. The dead executive

office chair

What's wrong with this chair?

- No lumbar support, resulting in poor posture and lower back pain

- Fixed armrests may get in way of the desk, so you may end up perching on the end of the seat. This puts pressure through your lower back as the thighs and the back aren’t supported.

3. The milkmaid's stool

office chair

What's wrong with this chair?

- A hard seat places pressure on the discs of the lower back.

- No back support, resulting in bad posture and a tired back

- It's not height adjustable, so you will need to reach up to the desk, resulting in shoulder tension.

4. The dining disaster

office chair

What's wrong with this chair?

- The backrest is hard and cannot be adjusted, so you won't get sufficient back support, resulting in lower back pain.

- No height adjustability will result in upper shoulder tension as you constantly need to reach up to the desk if the chair is too low for you. 

- Hard back rest will put pressure on the spine.

- No wheels/castors means no movement, leading to muscle strain.

5. The big deceiver

What's wrong with this chair?

- The backrest is concave in the lumbar area (i.e. moves away from the back and doesn’t give any lumbar support); this will result in poor posture and lack of support for the spine.

- The armrests are fixed and get in way of the desk, so you might end up perching on the edge of the seat.

- You can see in the picture that this person uses books as a footrest. These aren't stable, which may put strain on the hips.

Here's how to set up your office chair to avoid injury.

If you've spotted flaws in your office chair or, if you sit on a chair similar to one of the above-mentioned, perhaps it's time to chat to your boss about getting a new one before you do some serious damage to your health.

Read more:

How a desk job puts stress on your body

What type of back pain is the most common?

The great guide to good posture

Sources: Ergotherapy Solutions; Health24


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