How to Pick the "Right" Office Chair
By: Dr Greg Millar DC CCEP
Millar Chiropractic Clinics - Huntsville, Madison, Jones Valley, Decatur, Alabama
When sitting in an office chair for long periods, the natural tendency for most of us is to slump over or slough down in the chair. This posture can overstretch the spinal ligaments and muscles and strain the surrounding structures of the spine. When repeated time and time again, incorrect sitting posture can damage spinal structures and contribute to or worsen back and neck pain.
Top Six Guidelines to Setup Your Office Chair
- Elbow measure
First, begin by sitting comfortably as close as possible to your desk so that your upper arms are parallel to your spine. Rest your hands on your work surface (e.g. desktop, computer keyboard). If your elbows are not at a 90-degree angle, adjust your office chair height either up or down.
- Thigh measure
Check that you can easily slide your fingers under your thigh at the leading edge of the office chair. If it is too tight, you need to prop your feet up with an adjustable footrest. If you are unusually tall and there is more than a finger width between your thigh and the chair, you need to raise the desk or work surface so that you can raise the height of your office chair.
- Calf measure
With your bottom pushed against the chair back, try to pass your clenched fist between the back of your calf and the front of your office chair. If you can't do that easily, then the office chair is too deep. You will need to adjust the backrest forward, insert a low back support (such as a lumbar support cushion, a pillow or rolled up towel), or get a new office chair.
- Get up and move
No matter how comfortable one is in an office chair, prolonged static sitting is not good for the back and is a common contributor to back problems and muscle strain. To avoid keeping the back in one position for a long period, remember to stand, stretch and walk for at least a minute or two every half hour. Even a quick stretch or some minimal movement - such as walking to the water cooler or bathroom - will help.Low back support
- Against the back
Your bottom should be pressed against the back of your chair, and there should be a cushion that causes your lower back to arch slightly so that you don't slump forward or slouch down in the chair as you tire over time. This low back support in the office chair is essential to minimize the load (strain) on your back. Never slump or slouch forward in the office chair, as that places extra stress on the structures in the low back, and in particular, on the lumbar discs.
- Resting eye level
Close your eyes while sitting comfortably with your head facing forward. Slowly open your eyes. Your gaze should be aimed at the center of your computer screen. If your computer screen is higher or lower than your gaze, you need to either raise or lower it to reduce neck strain.
Adjust the armrest of the office chair so that it just slightly lifts your arms at the shoulders. Use of an armrest on your office chair is important to take some of the strain off your neck and shoulders, and it should make you less likely to slouch forward in your chair.
Dr. Greg Millar DC CCEP
Millar Chiropractic Clinics - Huntsville, Madison, Jones Valley, Decatur Alabama