Sitting in an office chair for prolonged periods of time can cause low back pain or worsen an existing back problem. Sitting in an office chair is a static posture that increases stress in the back, shoulders, arms, and legs, can add undue pressure on the back muscles and spinal discs.
When sitting in an office chair for a long period, the natural tendency for most people is to slouch, and this posture can overstretch the spinal ligaments and strain the discs and surrounding structures in the spine. Over time, incorrect sitting posture can damage spinal structures and worsen existing back pain.
An ergonomic office chair is a tool that can help support the back and maintain good posture while sitting. However, simply owning an ergonomic office chair is not enough – it is also necessary to adjust the office chair to the proportions of the individual’s body to achieve maximum results.
The first step in setting up an office chair is to establish the desired height of the individual’s desk or workstation. Once the workstation has been situated, then the user can adjust the office chair according to his or her physical proportions.
- ELBOW MEAURE – Sit as close as comfortably possible to your desk, so that your upper arms are parallel to your spine. Rest your hands on your work station (desk or keyboard). If your elbows are not at a 90-degree angle, adjust the height of the chair until it is.
- THIGH MEASURE – While sitting, slide your fingers under your thigh at the edge of the chair. If it is too tight, you will need to rest your feet on an adjustable foot rest. If there is more than a finger width between your thigh and chair, raise the work station to accommodate the height of your chair.
- LOW BACK SUPPORT – With your bottom pressed against the back of the chair, there should be a cushion to slightly arch your low back, so you don’t slouch over time. This support is essential to minimize the strain on your back. Slumping or slouching in the chair places extra stress on the structure in the lumbar discs.
- RESTING EYE LEVEL – Your normal gaze should be aimed at the center of your computer screen. If it is not, you should raise or lower the screen until it is. Improper screen height may strain the upper spine.
- ARMREST – The armrests of your chair should slightly lift your arms at the shoulders. Proper alignment of the armrests will alleviate some of the strain on your upper spine and shoulder which will, in turn, make it less likely to slouch.