Are Ergonomic Chairs Worth It?

Some may consider ergonomic chairs as bit of a fad, a bit of a fashion but there is actually a bit of science and logic behind the increasing demand for ergonomic seating. And not just seating either; ergonomics has extended itself into all areas of our working and leisurely lives. You can now expect to find ergonomic mice for computers, keyboards, pillows, garage tools and so on.

The science behind ‘ergonomics’ is very real and the results are proven but most people think they can survive just fine without thinking too much about ergonomics. In most cases this is true, we can indeed survive without giving ergonomics a lot of thought, but what good ergonomics can achieve is not something you’ll understand until you experience it.  My students often ask me ‘isn’t ergonomics primarily about being comfortable’. I hear it all the time but being comfortable is in fact a result of effective ergonomic thinking and structure. A big soft couch is comfortable, but quite often far from ergonomic. It may seem like it is mould to your body posture but that’s not what ergonomics is about.  Ergonomics is about physiological efficiency; expending the least amount of energy possible whilst performing a task. In this we can include stress as stress is physically and mentally tiring. Beating stress is often at the core of effective ergonomics, as constantly moving an arm into awkward positions puts a stress on your body. Sitting down for long periods of time without suitable back support, puts unnecessary stress onto your body. It is inefficient because not only does it impact you internally it also impacts you externally. If you get tired and ache what happens to your productivity and effectiveness in that task?

The office chair.

A large percentage of the working population will find themselves working in an office, in any number of roles. We all know working in an office requires to be sitting down for long periods of time, so how important are ergonomic office chairs?

Let’s look at why we sit. Firstly sitting uses 20% less energy that standing, and when seated. When seated and supported properly than intradiscal pressure is less than when standing. Sitting properly also increases postural stability and reduces anthropometric variability. So you can see that we need to sit for our own health’s sake. But sitting in un-ergonomic seating has also proven to be costly, not just on your health but also on productivity. Cornell University discovered that on average an office can lose up to £5k per employee in lost productivity due to medical and worker compensation claims, most commonly related to back injuries. In fact over 50% are due to lower back injuries. This makes it more important than just a passing thought when it comes to whether you should be sitting in an ergonomic chair or not.



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Tuesday, 23 July 2019
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