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Best Home Office Chairs For Back Pain
Sabrena Jo is the senior director of science and research at the American Council on Exercise based in Lawrence, Kansas.
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Whether you work from home or go to the office every day, you may not pay much attention to the level of support your body receives while sitting.
That’s right, we’re talking about your office chair—and not just about comfort (although that’s important, too). Your office chair plays a big role in your entire life, especially when it comes to your back health. In fact, the right office chair can help prevent low back pain in the first place. And if you’re already suffering, the right office chair can make a big difference in providing relief from your discomfort.
Here’s what you need to know about choosing an office chair for back pain, including some posture options.
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Low back pain is very common – more than 28% of US Statistics & Facts. Statistics. Accessed 30/7/2021. .
The consequences of back pain are also expensive. In 2016, American health care costs for low back and neck pain reached $134.5 billion, the highest among 154 different health conditions. US it. Health Care Expenditure by Payer and Health Status, 1996-2016. stop 2020;323(9):863-884.
The risk factors for back pain are incredibly diverse, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Age, genetics, fitness level, obesity, mental health, smoking and psychological factors are all considered contributors, along with work-related factors.
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It stands to reason that a job that requires heavy lifting, pushing, or pulling—especially if it involves twisting or vibrating the spine—can lead to back injuries and pain. But working at a desk all day can cause back pain, especially if you have poor posture or sit in a chair with a lack of back support, according to NINDS.
Having the right office chair and setting up your work environment in the right way to improve your health is very important, says Karen Jacobs, a surgeon, board-certified ergonomist and clinical professor of occupational therapy and distance education post-professional occupational therapy programs. . Boston University.
And it’s a problem he and his colleagues have seen exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as more people move their offices to their homes and have to set up temporary home workspaces.
“In my conversations with people who work from home, they say they don’t have lumbar support like they do in their office chair or they don’t have a desk to sit at,” Jacobs said. “They don’t get up and go to the water cooler drink tea and take their breaks. The borders are blocked. This is why we have seen a lot of pain and suffering in people.”
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In general, people use whatever office chair is provided at work, or if they’re at home, they use whatever chair is available, Jacobs said. But the key to finding the best office chair for back pain is to identify what works for you – and you never know until you try.
At work, this may mean borrowing a coworker’s chair that has features you’re interested in. For a home office, it might mean asking the salesperson if you can test drive a demo model for a few days before committing. To buy one, he says.
When you’re testing chairs, there are many things to consider beyond comfort. Check out its features, that it has an ergonomic design, adjustable parts and, of course, the price.
One of the first things to consider when trying out a new office chair for back pain is the material. There are many options – leather, polyester, mesh, foam and everything in between.
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“Especially with a pad on your seat, I like something that’s breathable and a good pillow that’s firm and to your lower back,” Jacobs said. “Make sure it’s comfortable but breathable.”
Researching what the seat is made of is especially important if you have allergies to certain materials or fabrics, he adds.
It is important to have an office chair with a strong ergonomic design. However, just because a chair is labeled “ergonomic” doesn’t mean it actually is, Jacobs said.
“Anyone can use that [term] in a product,” he says. “So buyers have to understand what they want.”
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He recommends that workplaces invite an ergonomics expert to come and inspect workplaces, and educate employees on proper workplace setup and use.
“One of the best ways to ensure that an office chair is ergonomic is to find one that has many adjustable options,” says Jacobs.
“Put your back behind the chair and focus on fixing everything else,” he says.
Adjustments should include seat height, pan’s (seat area) tilt, removable armrests, headrest and seat recline options.
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Pay close attention to your knees – they should have a 90 degree bend with your feet flat on the floor in front of you or on the floor. Also, the crease of your knees should not rest against the pan of the seat. If you’re going with a seat pan that adjusts and tilts, make sure you can lock it so it won’t move once you’ve adjusted it properly, says Jacobs.
He also likes chairs that can swivel so that people can easily move their seats when they need to change position instead of turning their heads, which is a rare form of body movement.
Repair is not just a set-it-and-forget-it, one-time thing. In fact, Jacobs recommends making it a regular part of your workday, which is why he helped design a Boston University mousepad with recommendations on how to set up your workspace.
“Every time you walk into the office, ask yourself if your chair is comfortable,” he said. “Have a reminder of how to set up your computer’s workplace.”
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An office chair to reduce back pain can cost less than $100 to more than $3000. Some materials such as leather are more expensive, and chairs with more features and adjustment options can be more expensive.
Jacobs doesn’t recommend just any office chair, but says that good office chairs for back pain can be found at a variety of prices. And, it’s all about finding what’s right for you because everyone and every body is a little different, she says.
Don’t be afraid to get creative to save money, he adds. Using a cushion on the seat or back of the chair can make it better suited to support your body’s proper alignment – and more comfortable.
Lumbar (lower back) support is good no matter what type of chair you find yourself in, as it helps keep your body aligned and better maintains the natural inward curve of your lower spine, says Jacobs.
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If you can’t find a chair where the lumbar support feels comfortable or you’re sitting in a chair that doesn’t have lumbar support, you can use a neatly folded towel to supplement it, he says.
To improve alignment and support further, Jacobs also likes to use a footrest. At home, she uses yoga blocks as a lounge because they are comfortable and she likes that she can move them wherever she sits.
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