Sitting is the new smoking! Sitting is a disease that is a high-risk factor for early death. In fact, a 2012 study from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys indicates that 70 percent of people spend more time sitting down.
This sedentary lifestyle isn’t limited to sitting down and sending countless emails at work, but starts right from the time your day begins, from sitting down during your daily commute to vegging out in front your TV binge watching your favorite Netflix series.
And if you think that doctor-recommended daily exercise compensates for too much sitting, you’re in for a surprise!
Even though you may be at a lower risk of dying from prolonged sitting if you exercise regularly, exercising doesn’t give you a free pass to spend the rest of the day being inactive.
Now that was the bad news, and the good news is that by making a few lifestyle changes, you can make strides towards leading a healthier life, and it all starts with your good ol’ chair.
Difference Between Normal Office Chair and Ergonomic Office Chair
Take a look at your traditional office chair, and you’ll notice that there are a few elements missing that if present could collectively improve the way you feel during your workday. Normal office chairs are fitted with fixed armrests and seat heights, which prevent you from adjusting the chair to your desired posture and comfort level.
Further, non-ergonomic chairs aren’t designed for long term comfort, and don’t support your body for long periods of time. Ergonomic chairs work a bit differently in that the more you sit on them, the more they contour to suit your body’s weight and height, hence making them more ideal for you.
However, it’s worth noting that buying an ergonomic chair alone won’t improve your posture, and relieve your back pain, but you will have to adopt a sit-stand policy philosophy every 30 minutes or so.
If you want the best of both worlds — unmatched comfort and support, then buying an ergonomic chair is an investment you really can’t go wrong with! If you’re still not over the fence about why use an ergonomic chair, and the myriad benefits it offers, here are 10 compelling reasons.
10 Benefits of Ergonomic Chairs
1. Posture Support
Posture support is one of the biggest reasons that give ergonomic chairs an edge over traditional office chairs. Today, more than ever, it’s easier to find yourself slouched over your desktop, laptop or over a phone for hours at a time.
Slouching for extended periods of time, especially when you’re not sitting in the right position, can take a toll on your joints, muscles and ligaments. What’s worse is that your body can get easily used to this bad posture even when you’re not at your desk.
Traditional chairs lack basic ergonomics, where you generally tend to lean forward due to incorrect back height and support. Ergonomic office chairs come with all the essential features including headrests and backrests to support your posture while sitting.
Plus, you can adjust the height of ergonomic chairs, so that your feet are flat on the floor, and your knees are a 90-degree angle to the floor, and parallel to your hips. These corrections may seem small, but make a world of a difference in improving your posture.
2. Reduces and/or Eliminates Back and Neck Pain
Ergonomic chairs also provide great support for your back, given that you can adjust the lumbar backrest to support your natural spine position, resulting in less pressure on your spinal discs and muscles.
Backrests of ergonomic chairs also support the natural “S” shape of your spine, which does two things —prevents slumping, and minimizes stress on your spine and pelvis. Backrest lumbar support also contours the curve of the chair with curve of your spine for optimal support.
The backrest of a respective ergonomic chair should be adjustable, and suit your unique height and shape. Adding to this, ergonomic backrests have features such as head and tilt adjustments, as well as a seat sliding function for an optimal ergonomic working position.
Did you know that the average adult human head weighs between 10 lbs to 12 lbs? What’s fascinating about this is that the human head is supported by only seven vertebrae and 20 muscles in the neck. These muscles are susceptible to excessive strain for hours on end during your 9 – 5 workdays.
This strain can cause excruciating pain in your neck and shoulders, and a loss of cartilage between vertebrae. Headrests of ergonomic chairs provide the right level of support for your neck and shoulders, therefore reduce strain on the muscles caused by constant stillness throughout the day.
3. Reduces and/or Eliminates Repetitive Trunk Flexion
One of the side effects of poor posture is repetitive trunk flexion, which makes it difficult to reach things on your desk when in a slouched position, without leaning your torso forward.
This results in low back pain, but sitting in an ergonomic chair encourages good posture. Additionally, ergonomic chairs allow you to sit more erect, while reaching things on your desk without putting any additional strain on your lower back.
4. Increased blood circulation
Poor blood circulation is highly risky for your overall health. Poor blood circulation symptoms include fatigue, muscle cramps, memory loss and difficulty concentrating, slow healing of wounds and edema. ‘
If ignored, the aforementioned symptoms can lead to serious health issues such as diabetes, blood clots, hypertension and/or peripheral artery disease. If you’re sitting in a normal office chair for an extended period of time, and where your feet are unable to touch the ground, blood will not circulate properly throughout your body.
This can lead to issues such as tingling, blood clots and cramping. Given that ergonomic chairs can be adjusted for height, you can set the right height for your feet to touch the ground, usually via a flick of a single lever.
Furthermore, most seats of ergonomic chairs are large enough to fit both your legs side by side, without putting pressure on the sides of your thighs or behind your knees, resulting in enhanced blood circulation.
5. Increase your comfort quotient
Ergonomic chairs offer a plethora of medical benefits, but consumers often ask are ergonomic chairs comfortable? And short is “Yes”! For starters, ergonomic chair backrest and seat material, especially mesh provide constant airflow to keep you cool throughout the day.
Speaking of mesh material, it is available in two different types — softer mesh and stiffer mesh. Softer mesh is more user friendly, and adapts well to your body, allowing your body weight to be spread across a larger area, but on the downside may stretch and sag over time.
A stiffer mesh is not so forgiving, and is probably not a good choice for people who sit for long hours in a day. Regardless of the material, you will not be able to achieve the desired comfort quotient if the fabric is mated with a plastic frame, which is generally seen in cheap ergonomic chairs.
6. Increased morale and enhanced workplace wellness
As a company, it is highly important to put in the efforts to keep your employees happy and healthy. By switching to ergonomic furniture, you let your current and future employees know that you care about their wellbeing and physical health.
Employees who feel that they’re well-cared for will be less stressed, which is good for both cardiovascular and mental health, and needless to say boosts productivity. Adding ergonomic chairs and furniture to your office also makes the environment more inviting, progressive, inspiring, and appealing to guests and prospective employees.
7. Fewer work compensation claims
Most employers set aside a certain amount of cash for medical insurance for their workers. When you provide your employees with safe ergonomic chairs and furniture to work on, you greatly reduce the chances of employee insurance payouts and deductibles.
8. Designed for all users
Ergonomic chairs are not a “one size fits all” design, but are available in an array of different shapes, sizes, and colors. Adding to this, you can also get bespoke designs that will match your needs perfectly, whether it’s your weight or the right design to match the décor or your home or office.
9. Unmatched safety
Ergonomic chairs come with several different safety features such as a robust base that provides support for the user, as well as the chair. These bases are usually made from high-grade plastic or polished aluminum, prevent the chair from tipping over, and help adjust your posture.
Castors or wheels of ergonomic chairs are available in several different types, so you can easily match the flooring you have including carpet or hardwood. Further, you can even choose castors with brakes to prevent your ergonomic chair from sliding all over the place.
10. Long-term use
Ergonomic chairs are built tough, so you can be rest assured that they will serve you well for many years to come, with proper care of course. They are made from top grade materials, so the chances of malfunction are slim to none.
And to top things off, most ergonomic chair models come with industry leading warranties, some even five years+, so you can get in touch with the manufacturer in case of any issues or defects.
Ergonomic Chairs FAQ’s
Here are a few important questions consumers ask to help use ergonomic chairs the right way.
Q: How to configure my ergonomic chair?
Answer: When you buy your ergonomic chair, it’s probably not going to be setup the way you like it. To configure the chair, first place both feet securely on the floor, and make sure your thighs are parallel to the ground.
Next, adjust the back seat mechanism to get the right support for your spine and back. Adjust the seat pan back and forth until you reach the right seat depth. Unlock the wheels if you want to, and you’re ready to use your ergonomic chair.
Q: How to use ergonomic chair to solve sitting issues?
Answer: A well-designed ergonomic chair will help correct your posture posture, as long as you get accustomed to sitting in the right position.
It is also worth noting that even though ergonomic chairs do provide several benefits on their own, you can add other elements such as footrests, task lighting and other ergonomic furniture to enhance the comfort of your work area.
Q: How does an ergonomic chair work?
Answer: Ergonomic chairs come with a wide range of features, but in essence are very simple to use. All the features of an ergonomic chair work in harmony to help you get the comfort and support you need.
Since traditional chairs don’t come with adjustable features, you will probably have to get acquainted with how to adjust the seat pan, height, and other features of your ergonomic chair.
Q: Are armrests bad for your posture?
Answer: There’s often great debate whether armrests are good for posture. The answer truly depends on user preferences, as armrests do provide extra support, but should be adjusted to the right height.
If you have a table that can accommodate your arms when you work, then buying an ergonomic chair with armrests won’t really make sense. But if you’re buying ergonomic chairs to add to meeting rooms and reception areas, then you can do away with armrests.
Buying an ergonomic chair is a wise choice for home or office, and for young and old, and everyone in between. Ergonomic chairs aren’t just comfortable to sit on, but also offer premium health features for excellent posture, and support for your neck and back.
Before buying an ergonomic chair, you should determine the features you need such as armrests and footrests, because the more features you choose, the higher the price tag. All in all, ergonomic chairs are a great investment, as long as you choose the right one. You can read our handy ergonomic chair buying guide to ease your buying decision.