Why your office chair needs back support

Back pain is such a big issue in the UK and so many people of all different ages suffer from back pain.

Arthritis Research UK found that:

  • Low back pain is the leading cause of disability in the UK
  • 1 in 6 people in England suffer from some form of back pain

Office workers often experience back pain due to a poorly set up workstation and a lack of lumbar support. Office workers are expected to sit for the majority of the day behind their desks, if this is you then you need to make sure you’re comfortable and caring for your body!

There are many things you can do to make yourself more comfortable at work, such as making sure your workstation is set up correctly, taking breaks and working standing up. But having a comfortable chair is the first thing you want to look at, one way you can make your chair more enjoyable to sit in is having good back support.

A lot of office chairs don’t offer the right amount of back support. But ergonomic chairs are made with this in mind. If you are suffering from back pain, poor posture or are experiencing discomfort at work, consider your chair and how well it’s supporting your body.

What can cause a lack of support

The human spine isn’t perfectly straight, it’s curved. If a chair has a straight back with no curve, it probably won’t offer you much support and can cause back pain and poor posture. Therefore, working on a straight back kitchen chair from home can be uncomfortable.

If your chair doesn’t have a curved back don’t worry! Portable back support pillows can be used to cushion the curvature of your spine and help reduce back pain.

Types of back support

Adjustable back support office chair

Most ergonomic chairs should have an adjustable back. Adjustability gives you the most support as chairs aren’t built to suit every individual body, but the more things you can adjust on a chair, the more chance you have of finding something that suits you.

Jo Blood our DSE expert and workstation assessor has put together a selection of chairs that she thinks to give the best back support. All these chairs are available in our shop!

Back support cushion

A  back support cushion is really handy, you can bring them anywhere and use it whenever you feel like you need some extra support and comfort.

Over the past couple of years, working from home has become a frequent thing for a lot of workers. But not everyone has an ergonomic workstation or office at home so you might use your kitchen chair instead of an office one. Back support pillows can be used on kitchen chairs at home so you’re able to get that support you need.

If you spend long hours driving and experience back pain, a back cushion is great for supporting your back and reducing discomfort. What we would recommend for this is the in-car back support.

The in-car back support is a firm back support, not everyone who needs back support want a soft squishy material, the in-car back support is ideal for these people. If you like the look of the product but don’t like firmer support, you have the option of having it made of memory foam. Strap the pillow onto your car seat, make sure it fits snug into the curve of your lower back. It will give you comfortable support and help correct your posture whilst driving.

Back support pillows don’t have to be used just on chairs that offer no support. If you have an office chair that has back support, but you still don’t feel comfortable, pop a pillow behind your back.

If you’d like to learn more about setting up a workstation at your kitchen table check out this blog post.

Inflatable back support cushions

 Inflatable back cushions are a great option if you want adjustable support. You might need more support on some chairs compared to others, an inflatable back cushion is perfect for this. If this sounds like something you’d want, we recommend the Actyv inflatable lumbar support. It’s a soft cushion that comfortably supports the lower back. For the days you feel like you need more support you can squeeze the bulb to inflate the back support and make it firmer. If you want softer support, simply hold the button on the bulb and release some air for a softer smaller cushion.

Memory foam back support

This back support cushion is bigger than the others listed and is very comfortable. It covers a large portion of your back and kind of feels like it’s hugging your back. The memory foam helps to make it even more comfortable; it shapes with the back and closely supports every curve.

Something else you can try that will cost you nothing, is rolling up a towel and placing it behind your back when sitting in your chair.

Make sure you’re sitting in your chair correctly

If you’re used to sitting in a chair without support, it might be difficult at first to get used to it. A chair with good back support helps the user to sit upright. Read through the steps below on how to sit properly.

·        Sit back in the chair

   When you sit down, make sure your backside is as far back in the chair as possible.

·        Sit at the right height

 When your shoulders are relaxed, bend your arms at the elbow so that your forearms are in line          with the desk

·        Check the depth of the seat

If your seat depth isn’t right, it can cause the user to shuffle to the edge of the seat, so they can comfortably rest their feet on the ground without the chair bashing into the back of their legs. The problem with this is, sitting on the edge of the seat doesn’t give any support to the back, meaning the user will start to slouch and arch forwards. When the head hangs forward it creates tension on the lower back.

When you’re sitting as far back as possible there should be a 2-3 finger gap between the back of the knee and the seat of the chair. Use the seat slide to alter if necessary. If the chair hasn’t got a seat slider, using back support will help shorten the depth of the seat and will ensure that you are getting good support, and the chair won’t be digging into the back of your knees.

·        Check whether you need a footrest

When you are sitting at the right height, if your feet are not solidly flat on the floor then you will need a footrest.

Other things to look out for

There are other ways to protect your back and avoid strain or injury to the body. Make sure you are positioned correctly:

  • Your screen should be straight in front of you, you shouldn’t have to turn your neck or head to see the screen. The top of the screen should be in line with your eyes.
  • Having height-adjustable armrests on your office chair is so important. Armrests support the elbows and take the pressure off your shoulders and arms.
  • Your legs should be comfortable and relaxed. Make sure your knees are bent at a right angle and your feet are flat on the ground. If your legs aren’t in this position, then consider using a footrest or lifting the height of your chair.

If you’d like some advice on back support or would like some help picking out a chair, please contact our friendly team by phoning us on 0330 332 0880 or email us at enquiries@posturepeople.co.uk.

Do you need some advice about your workplace?

Get in touch and one of our team would be happy to help answer your questions.

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