You Only Get One Back: Is Your Office Chair Ruining It?

Have you ever observed a young baby as soon as it has learnt to sit up? If you have you may well have been struck by the beautiful posture of the child's back.

The spine is straight and shoulders sit naturally by it's side. Not only that, the side movement of the head is huge compared to the average adult. Babies can easily turn their heads well over 90 degrees to the left or right.

Sadly, in a few short years it all starts to go downhill. Sitting in lousy seating at school and then hours in front of a TV or computer soon starts to take its toll.

So, even by the time you start work, it's likely you will have lost a fair amount of the natural back movement you had as a young child. This makes it important that you pick a good office seat if you spend most of the working day sitting in one.

Let's look at how the wrong chair only makes things worse.

How a bad office chair damages your back
To keep your back healthy you need to avoid office chairs with poor back supports. Chairs with low fixed backs aren't a good idea as they leave large areas of your back unsupported.

Chairs that have no lumbar support should be avoided too. The most important area of you back to support is the lower back or lumbar region. Unshaped chair backs are unlikely to give you the support you need. And backs with exaggerated shapes can be just as bad and should be avoided to.

If you prefer a mesh back chair make sure it doesn't have a poorly designed hard plastic frame because it can dig into your back.

So, what should you look for to get proper back support?

What should you chair back include?
The most important feature of any office chair back is that it provides you with good support for your lower back. Ideally it should be able to be adjusted to nest comfortably into the small of your back.

On a chair with a small or medium height back it should be height adjustable with some light shaping allowing it to rest comfortably into your lumbar region.

Alternatively, it may include a separate lumbar support which can be positioned to suit your needs. This is quite popular on chairs with high backs which may well be fixed. Often they have an adjustable lumbar support to fine tune things.

With mesh backs it's best to avoid really cheap chairs as the mesh won't support your back. Better quality chairs use mesh designed to give good support and these sometimes use two or three ply mesh specifically made for the purpose.

And even when you have a chair with good back support you can always do more.

How else can you look after your back?
Sitting for hours on end is not a good idea even in the best of chairs. Our body craves movement and when it doesn't get it it starts to ache. This is nature's way of saying it's time to move.

Getting up out of your chair every 30 minutes or so is a good idea. Take a quick break and make yourself a cup of coffee or tea. Also, do some quick stretches to keep your body supple. This doesn't mean you have to start doing some strenuous exercise routine. Just a few simple stretches is all that is needed to keep things moving healthily.

The older you get the more important this becomes. Unfortunately you will never get back all the healthy posture you had as a baby. Nonetheless it's vital that we maintain our backs by giving them the best support and help we can.

A good chair combined with some basic stretches will go a long way to looking after your back.

Further information
Selecting the right chair back is important, however there are other features that matter too. This short video explains what a good ergonomic office chair should include.

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