Getting an ergonomic chair is a wise move - and almost a necessary move for anyone suffering from even a mild back problem.
Ergonomic furniture is designed to fit comfortably with the natural tendencies of your body. It's about making the objects we use every day work with our bodies, rather than trying to make our bodies conform to badly-designed objects.
Much of the standard furniture we use these days wasn't really designed with the human body in mind - this is why back injuries and ongoing pain have almost become the norm throughout society.
It's important to remember that it's only in the last 150 years or so that humans have taken to roles that require sitting down all day. Before that, most of us worked in factories or on farms.
And it's not just physical injury that ergonomic furniture can help relieve. Researchers have now drawn links between poor moods and poor sitting positions. In other words, just having the right chair for your body can improve your life both on a physical and emotional level.
But choosing the right chair can be tough. There are a lot of models on the market, some of them with features that really do help support a bad back, and others which involve useless bells and whistles in an attempt to 'cash in' on the trend towards ergonomics. Let's look at what's most important in an ergonomic chair, and some of the different types of chairs available for various purposes.
Lumbar support - or support for the lower back - is one of the most important features of an ergonomic chair, because this tends to be the area where most sitting-related back injuries occur. The force of gravity can wreak havoc on your body if you have to sit for hours every day with a misaligned spine due to a chair that doesn't work naturally with your body.
Bear in mind that getting more exercise is not the solution to this problem. It's not the same as the risk of heart disease or high cholesterol, where inactivity is the problem and an increase in activity is the problem. If you're sitting in the wrong position for 8 hours a day at work, it will do damage to your back whether you're a marathon runner or a couch potato. That's why ergonomics is so important.
The office is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to doing our backs damage. Many work places still don't like to splash out on furniture, going with the most basic chairs possible at the lowest cost (although some companies are starting to recognize the importance of maintaining good employee health and investing in ergonomic furniture for the many benefits it can bring).
Desks can be the work space for a variety of activities: artistic creations like drawing, writing with a pen and paper or on a computer, or doing serious work either at home or the office. Because of the wide array of uses for desks, there are quite a few different styles of ergonomic desk chairs available, each of which is designed with a particular use in mind.
When it comes to computer chairs, you'll want to think about how high the computer and keyboard are in relation to how you sit. The height of your desk has to be in harmony with the chair you're sitting on, otherwise you'll end up either hunching forward too much or straining to type at a level which is too high and uncomfortable.
This is one of the biggest recent breakthroughs in ergonomic chair design. Asymmetical support simply means that you can adjust the lumbar support differently on each side of the chair. This is important because for many people, their back injuries only affect one side of their back. If you have a back injury which is concentrated on one side, you will need more (or less) support on that side.
One chair with this asymmetical support feature is the Zody. The Zody is a unique chair which has been designed based on years of research, both on pressure points within the back and surveys of people who have previously bought ergonomic chairs.
While ergonomic furniture can do a lot to relieve back pain, it probably won't be enough on its own to solve all your problems. Even once you find the right chair, you want to limit and break up the periods of time you spend sitting as much as possible. Even in a good chair, try not to sit for too many unbroken hours without standing and doing a few stretches. One of the best solutions available to help you stay active is the balance ball chair, a mixture between an exercise ball and a typical chair.
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