We’ve all heard that good posture and support are the keys to keeping your back strong, healthy, and free of pain, but not everybody understands exactly how to give their backs the proper support or foster the best posture. Many would be surprised to learn that chairs play a very integral role in back health: both how you sit in chairs, as well as in which chairs you regularly sit.
The Best Way to Sit in a Chair
Back pain is one of the most frequently sited causes for missed workdays (the common cold is number one), and health professionals estimate that anywhere from eighty to ninety percent of adults suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. It may be possible to remove yourself from these statistics by simply altering the way you sit. The following is a list of tips to achieve the best sitting posture for optimal back health:
- Your mother was right: you should sit up straight. Try for a nice ninety degree angle, with your back straight and your shoulders even with your back (not hunched forward).
- Don’t overdo it, though. The natural curves of your back don’t need to be rod-straight; use a lumbar roll to maintain the curve at the base of your back if this is a little difficult for you.
- Pay attention to where your body rests on the chair. Your buttocks should touch the chair back.
- Don’t play favorites with one side of your body; work to rest evenly on both hips with your weight distributed equally on either side.
- Another great place for a right angle: your knees. Also, try to keep your knees at hip height or even slightly higher – use a foot rest if you are sitting in a higher chair.
- Keep your feet flat against the floor. Avoid the urge to cross your legs at the ankles, knees, or feet.
- If you can help it, don’t sit in the same position for more than a half hour at a time. Get up and walk around the office if you can, or do some gentle stretches.
Chairs for a Healthy Back
Purchasing an ergonomic chair that has been designed with back health in mind is a smart investment that will pay off in greater comfort, productivity, and health. Look for chairs that allow you to adjust your chair to fit your body: ideally, adjustments should be possible for seat height, tilt, backrest angle, backrest height, armrest height, armrest angle, and lumbar support depth. These adjustments are not only important because they help chairs conform to you, rather than the other way around, but because they also help you adjust the chair to put you at the proper angle and height for your desk or table. Also, swivel chairs are great for back health because they prevent too much twisting at the waist, which can strain the back. Many chairs designed for back health also feature memory foam on the seat and/or seatback, for maximum comfort, and some are sold with matching footrests to promote proper foot height when seated.
Written By: Updated: June 28,2011