Lower back pain was the leading cause of absenteeism from work in 2010, according to World Health Organization’s Global Burden of Diseases study (2010). Lower back pain caused by a person´s job is a growing problem, and the highest numbers are to be found in Western Europe. A three month study that examined back problems of sedentary and active workers found that desk workers were at a higher risk.

HOW SITTING CAN CAUSE LOWER BACK PAIN

Sitting in itself isn’t bad, until you start sitting a lot. Unfortunately many of us spend more time sitting on an office chair than on anything else – often upwards of eight hours a day.  According to a recent study of European participants, 18.5 % of people above 18 years old sit for more than 7,5 hours a day. People having white-collar jobs and living in urban areas were more likely to sit more.

Sitting, especially in working positions, gives a static posture that increases stress in the back, shoulders, arms, back of neck and legs. The back muscles and spinal discs often receive a large amount of pressure. A lot of people in sitting positions at work don’t have an optimal chair to support them, which will make this pressure even worse.

With a bad chair and not enough knowledge about how to sit right people tend to end up in some really unfortunate positions, where they are often either bending the body forward in a banana shape, or slouching down the chair. This can overstretch the spinal ligaments and strain the discs and surrounding structures in the spine. If this happen over longer time, it can damage spinal structures and give you back pain.

OPTIMAL SUPPORT AND FEATURES

So what features should a good and supportive office chair have to prevent you from getting back pain? To avoid developing back problems it’s important to have an office chair that's ergonomic, that supports the lower back and helps you to keep a good posture. An ergonomic chair will also prevent you from getting different kinds of musculoskeletal injuries.

What you need is:

1. Supportive and adjustable backrest

An optimal backrest should have a shape that supports the natural curve of the spine, especially in the lumbar region. The lumbar support is crucial for preventing back pain and will take away some of the pressure on your lumbar spine. The backrest should also give enough space for your buttocks.

The backrest should be adjustable in height and depth, and you should be able to tilt it backwards and forward. The depth has to be enough for you to be able to get a good lumbar support, while leaving 2-4 inches between the back of the knees and the chair seat.

Low and narrow backrests are good if you have work tasks that require upper body mobility, this way your arms have enough space to move as they need. Tall and wider backrests are good for reclining, and then they should reach your upper back or neck. But, make sure you still get good lumbar support. There should also be a locking mechanism that secures the backrest from going further back than the user wants it to go.

2. Adjustable seat height

The seat height should allow you to sit with your feet flat on the floor and your thighs should be horizontal. Your arms should get an even 90 degree angle with the desk. If this is an investment for your colleagues at work, make sure that the seat height is adjustable enough to fit shorter people as well, or that you buy some foot rests to help them sit comfortably.

3. Seat tilting possibilities

The forward or backward tilt of the seat should be adjustable, to be able to support you through different kinds of tasks.

4. Seat Padding & Armrests

Whilst they don’t specifically help with back pain, other important features in an ergonomic chair is having comfortable seat padding, enough seat width to fit different sizes of people, adjustable and good armrests and a construction that allows for swivel.

5. Invest in Quality

A good ergonomic chair should have a warranty of at least 5 years and should last well beyond that.  While you will find office chairs that are classes as ergonomic for as little as £45, one as the most common mistakes people make is buying cheap. 

To find your new office chair give our friendly, expert team a call today on 01772 611622.  With 1000's of options available we perfect one for you.