Chair and Mattress

Is Your Chair Contributing to Your Back Pain?

How do you feel at work when you sit in your chair at your desk? Did you know that your chair may be directly related to your back pain?

Have you ever seen those small chairs for children at furniture stores? How would your body feel after sitting in one of those chairs for eight hours? Pretty bad, right – since the chair doesn’t fit your body.

In the same way, an adult-sized chair may not fit your body, and leave you with back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, eye strain, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, forward head syndrome, and other health issues.

The difference in your back pain is measurable when you sit in a specially designed, ergonomically correct chair!

The field of ergonomics actually started back in Hippocrates’ time. This father of medicine detailed how specifically a surgical unit should look and why. His details even included the arrangement of the tools on the tool platter.

Time and motion studies for coal mining, completed in the early 1900s, studied ways that miners could do their job optimally and eliminate any unnecessary steps, or steps that contributed to back and neck pain. Efficiency in movement meant increased productivity and work could get done safer and faster.

Then in the 20th century, the industrial age brought about new awareness of hand and eye coordination. Ergonomics is essential for almost every industry today and its employees, including astronauts, cleaning ladies, desk workers, teachers, dog groomers, dog trainers, gardeners, auto mechanics, and cashiers.

Ergonomically-Correct Chair Design

The chair that you sit in is probably much different than the chair that a CEO of a profitable company sits in! Chairs that are ergonomically correct are considerably more expensive – sometimes up to $3000 – because they allow a person to be comfortable for hours and hours. However, ergonomically-correct chairs may also be found in the $200 to $300 price range.

Here are some of the types of features you might find in this type of ergonomically-correct chair:

• Adjustable height

When you can adjust the height, you can prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, shoulder pain, and neck and back pain from sitting too low or too high in your chair.

Adjustable width

If you’re squeezed into a chair because it’s too narrow for you, this changes the angle of your pelvis and the angle of your spine, eliminating some of the natural curves. This can leave you with back and neck pain. By adjusting the width of the chair, the natural curves of the spine can return.

• Seat Slider

If you can slide the seat of your chair forward or backward to accommodate the work you are doing, this lessens the torque on the neck and spine.

 • Adjustable Seat Back

Ergonomists have found that by allowing you to lean back to an angle of around 110 degrees, pressure is taken off the spine.

• Contour Seat with Memory Foam

The seat of a chair should conform to what your buttocks look like! Memory foam helps reduce the pressure from sitting.

• Adjustable Armrests

When you can adjust the armrests of a chair, you can reduce the strain put on arms and forearms.

Ergonomically Correct Mattress Design

Although no one mattress will fit every person, there are some guidelines that can help you to choose one that can reduce your back pain.

Here is a list of guidelines to get you started on the right track:

  1. Does your mattress sag? If it does, it can’t support your back and spine the way you need proper support. Once a mattress sags, there is nothing that will improve it. It’s a myth to think that boards put underneath a mattress will solve the problem. Do consider the purchase of an ergonomically correct mattress.
  2. Don’t think that because everyone says you need a firm mattress, you must purchase the hardest one available. Sleeping on a mattress that is too hard will harm your body by causing pockets of stress that leads to the production of trigger points. There are different levels of firmness in mattresses depending on the number of coils and the thickness of the mattress.

Test out a mattress before you sign on the dotted line. Some top mattress companies will allow you to test out a mattress for 30 days to make sure you are happy with your purchase.

  1. Be alert to the allowable level of chemicals added to mattresses sold in your state. Some states such as California allow the highest level of flame retardants to be added to mattresses. This can be related to chemical sensitivity, which ends up causing back and neck pain, or even fibromyalgia!

You may want to consider natural cotton, natural rubber, or natural wool mattresses. These mattresses seem to be best suited to the human body.

Ergonomists have designed ergonomically-correct driver seats, recliners, lamps, inversion tables, beds, mats to stand on for long hours of the day, travel pillows, and even kitchen tables, counters and sinks.

See guidelines for making proper pillow choices