Office Chair: 5 Posture Tips To Reduce Back Pain

Office Chair: 5 Posture Tips To Reduce Back Pain

1. Why is correct posture important?

Correcting posture is essential if you are looking to reduce back pain, because poor posture is the main cause of it. Sitting puts a lot more stress on your spine than standing and walking – even if you're sitting straight, the weight of your upper body puts about 50% more pressure on your lower spine than if you were standing straight. 

And if you sit with your body bent or slouched, the stress on your spine is up to 150% greater than when standing upright. In addition, the pressure in the abdominal cavity increases with each subsequent hour of improper sitting, and at the end of the working day, the ability of the digestive tract to digest food adequately quickly according to the product is reduced by half. 

Bloating, heartburn and indigestion can also occur as a result of poor posture.

We can draw a conclusion that the correct posture in sitting and standing is important first of all for the health of the musculoskeletal and digestive systems, and then also for the way we express ourselves. Our posture says a lot about who we are and what we're like, according to body language experts. 

People who are too stooped and relaxed are not preferred company to a person with a straight back and open shoulders. And the definition "proudly standing" would have the same meaning if it was "proudly bent". 

Yes, it sounds strange and illogical precisely because of the deeply encoded perceptions of the world and people. I know this topic will be very interesting to you, but we will turn to psychology another time, and now it will give way to biology and biomechanics in order to reduce back pain.

2. How do you sit in a chair to avoid a hunchback?

2.1. Correct position of the eyes

In order to have a correct position of the whole body - and reduce back pain, we have to "build" our posture from the head. Let's start with the eyes.

Sit with your back straight, spread your shoulders to the sides and slightly back. The chin should point down but away from the upper chest. Look straight ahead. You should not feel tension in either the upper or lower eyelid. 

Fix the point in front of you and raise the monitor to its height so that the fixed point of view falls exactly in the centre of the monitor. This is the position of the head and eyes that you can maintain without problem for hours without causing fatigue to the head-supporting muscles or the optic nerves.

Consider a suitable desk or monitor stand that can be adjusted to a suitable height for you. Another alternative is to prop up your computer monitor using several books stacked on top of each other. By having a correct position, you will not only reduce back pain, but will also feel more comfortable when working or studying.

2.2. Correct position of the body 

The next step in order to reduce back pain from sitting on a chair is to correct the position of your body.

Sit with your back straight very close to the back of your office chair. Rotate your pelvis so that you feel like you are sitting on the bottom of your hips. Take a deep breath and open the chest. the shoulders will automatically pull slightly to the side and back. 

If you have taken this position correctly, you will feel that the lumbar muscles are slightly shortened, as if involuntarily, to maintain the correct position without straining the intervertebral discs, the hip joints or causing compression of the organs.

The upper part of the pelvis, as well as the lower back (sacral and lumbar) should be glued to the backrest, and the rest of the back (thoracic) should relax back, but keep the forward, backward and twisting activity without changing the whole body position. Even if the back of your chair is lower and you can't recline your shoulders at certain times of the day, try to keep your lower back stable and supported.

2.3. Correct position of the hands and wrists 

Correcting the position of the hands and the wrists is another important element you will need to take care of if you are looking to reduce back pain from sitting on a chair.

If we have to follow the imposed rule about the position of the hands at the table during meals, then the position of the hands during work in a sitting position should not be different. This means that in order to maintain a maximally comfortable sitting position, our elbows should not cross the edge of the table, let alone lean on them. Try it now and compare.

Focus on your upper back and shoulders. First, rest your elbows on the work surface, no matter in what position. Do you feel how the shoulders tensed, the abdominal muscles relaxed, and the body slightly "sunk" down? Now bring the hands back and support them a little below the level of the wrists. The shoulders are active, the back is straight, and the supporting muscles of the girdle have again become responsible for the balance of the body.

This is the first step, and the second is to move the keyboard or the papers on which you are working at such a distance that your hands do not cross the line that we have mentally drawn up to a maximum span after the wrist.

2.4. Correct position of the legs and feet

For leg position, there is only one important question to answer, and that is how high or low the knees should be so that you do not feel discomfort even after an eight-hour work day and at the end of the work week.

The height should be such that between the three main joints in the lower limbs (ankle, knee and hip) an angle of 90 degrees is formed, and the knees are at the level of the hips or slightly higher. In this position, the weight of the body is properly placed on the main part on which you are sitting. 

Various footrests are sold in the store network with adjustable height and a movable platform to change the position of the feet, which also brings a lot of benefits in terms of your comfort. The price of these steps are affordable and definitely worth buying as they will help you reduce back pain significantly.

3. 5 posture tips to reduce back pain in the office chair

3.1. Learn to identify incorrect posture

If you've followed the steps above, you probably already know what proper sitting posture is, but...we're not robots, and we can't program ourselves to never assume a different sitting posture. We are designed to move and we do so much more than we suspect, so to speak - we move even when we think we don't. And this applies in all cases.

Correct posture control is a type of self-correction that we impose on ourselves every time we notice that we have taken a different position for more than ten minutes. You will not avoid this, even as time progresses you yourself will control even the occupation of such positions. 

What you can do is learn to distribute the load properly ie. if you sat for ten minutes with your legs crossed with the left leg on top, a little later, when you change the sitting position, cross your right leg on top. Logical, balanced and thoughtful - and a great way to reduce back pain from sitting on a chair.

3.2. Implement periods of standing and movement

Experts advise standing up once every half hour to keep our limbs hydrated and our minds in shape. A few minutes of standing and especially moving will get the blood moving in your limbs, lubricate your joints and clear your mind. 

This is due to the increased flow of oxygen molecules entering the muscles by the muscle twitching in motion and the pumping of a greater amount of blood by the heart muscle. The body is energised in less than a minute, enough for two full cycles of blood circulation. Implementing periods of standing and movement will significantly help you reduce back pain.

Even if it's not possible to take short walks every thirty minutes, try to do them every hour. A few minutes of movement will act as a refreshing cool shower for your body, and what I would recommend to make this your habit is to make it a goal to drink a glass of water every time you get up. 

This way you will simultaneously keep your body hydrated and your muscles dewy. to do this, leave your water bottle as far away as possible - in the dressing room, in the break room, or on the farthest cabinet, and so you will be "forced" to get up and walk for a minute. Do you like the idea?

3.3. If possible, use an ergonomic chair to reduce back pain

Another purchase that, if you can afford it, will make your everyday life more comfortable and pleasant. Ergonomic chairs are specially designed to make it easier to maintain a correct sitting posture, support the lower back and absorb the weight of the body through ergonomic foam. 

Nowadays, there are different types of material that are used for better grip or contact with the body, and the innovations do not stop. Self-massage, head pillows, hypoallergenic fabrics, etc. The difference you will feel is so tangible that you will thank yourself for the good decision. 

Usually, the prices vary from one thousand to two and more thousand euros, and this is a really big investment, which is not found in modern offices. There is only one minus, and it is the high price, which not everyone can afford. Therefore, you can look for seats that you can install on your chair, as I personally recommend you to look at the site of Vertora - a brand of ergonomic products that I am a fan of and recommend to my clients. 

Using an ergonomic chair is essential if you are looking to reduce back pain.

3.4. Keep your chair at the right distance from the desk

Depending on your build, the distance between your chair and your desk can vary, but the rule of thumb is to be close enough that you're not reaching your arms forward to reach the keyboard, as mentioned above, or about a foot between your chest and the edge on the work table. 

Thus, the body will not be brought forward, and the distance will be far enough so that the eyes are not strained. To calculate the best distance, we need to sit in the correct posture in front of the desk. 

Open your palm and place your thumb at the bottom of the breastbone (corpus sterni) or at the base of the ribs, and your little finger at the edge of the desk. This is the most suitable distance to adjust your chair.

Of course, we should not rely only on these rules, but we can determine the distance at which we feel the most comfortable. Sometimes it may differ from the established rules. Try it!

Keeping your chair at the right distance is another aspect of your posture that helps to reduce back pain.

3.5. Adjust your office chair correctly to reduce back pain

Perhaps it has already become clear that to a large extent the correct position of the body when sitting depends on the chair on which we sit. And on that line of thought, the next tip to improve our posture when sitting for long periods of time is to adjust our seat.

The height of the seat should be such that when you step on the floor, the height of your knees is not lower than the height of your hips.

The inclination of the backrest is of essential importance, although it is one of the most frequently made mistakes. It must be perpendicular to the floor, which means that the backrest must be completely straight or with a very slight backward inclination, less than twenty degrees.

Another thing you could adjust is the mobility of the backrest. Most office chairs have a function of smooth movement of the backrests, and this would be suitable for you especially if you work at a large desk or make frequent movements around a printer or fax machine near the desk.

4. Reduce back pain from sitting at a desk: Conclusion 

Despite maintaining a good physique in sitting and standing, our body needs enough movement to maintain good health. The muscles, ligaments and joints of the spine, as elsewhere in the body, need regular exercise to stay healthy.

Without movement, the intervertebral discs begin to harden and contract, the ligaments lose their elasticity, and the muscles around the spine weaken. In addition, exercise helps you maintain an optimal weight and thus limits the additional load on the spine.

The muscles around your spine need to be strong to prevent strain. It is also important that the muscles in the opposite parts of your body are balanced; for example, the combination of weak abdominal muscles and strong muscles in the lower back is a common cause of low back pain and lumbar lordosis.

Proper sitting posture is especially important if you spend a long time at a desk or in front of a computer, and you want to reduce back pain. Try to move approximately every 30 minutes. Do neck stretching exercises, stretch and contract your shoulders, turn your head left to right, stretch your arms and back to relax your spine. Taking another sitting position for a short time is not a problem, but try to sit in the correct position most of the time.