If you are like many of the patients that I treat you are likely sitting in a chair that lacks adequate support and may be creating undue stress on your spine. When you are in the seated position the lumbosacral discs are loaded with three times more force than when standing. Sitting without back support allows our posture to become poor and the stress mounts up in the soft tissues and joints of the spine. Our society has changed in the last 100 years from active to sedentary (sitting at work, commuting, watching our “screens”……) and it is during our now habitual long periods of sitting that our common postures develop.
The spine has a natural S-shape that is meant to function as a spring for all our movements. The chair of choice should be one that supports these curves by filling in the gaps created by the natural curves of the lower back. This form fitting support will make it easier to then maintain a correct posture and will prevent the large muscles in the back from fatiguing. Without this support certain large muscles in the low back end up doing all the postural work and other muscles that are part of the core become weak. As a result the head and upper back begin leaning forward to name just a few of the effects. Soon enough symptoms of tenderness, pain and spasticity or worse may follow if the postural issues are not addressed.
Besides lower back support, there are other ways to make sure that your office chair provides adequate support:
- Your office chair should have elbow supports that allow the arms to comfortably rest while keeping the elbows at a 90 degree angle
- The height of the chair should be at a position where the knees can be bent to 90 degrees (elevate the feet with a footrest if necessary)
- Your eyes should be able to look straight ahead at the computer screen, so raising/ lowering your computer screen will help to take stress off the neck
On the next blog we will discuss chair types in greater detail so that shopping for the right fit will be an easier task. If you have questions about buying an office chair or would like to discuss issues related to your posture please consider making an appointment to see the chiropractor (Dr. Matthew Gloin, D.C.) for a consultation and treatment session.