Do any of the following sound like you?
If you agree with any of the items in the above list, you’re not alone.
The Problem – Your Chair
The problem is likely your desk chair. You probably don’t have the right chair for you, or you don’t have your chair adjusted properly.
Many of us in home offices try very hard to save on items like furniture and put our offices together on a shoestring. But a quality office chair is not the place to cut corners. One trip to the doctor or chiropractor for back pain will pay for a good, ergonomic chair, and you won’t have to suffer. A properly-adjusted, ergonomic chair can also reduce the probability of getting carpel tunnel syndrome. Treating this problem is far more costly than a quality chair.
The Solution – An Ergonomic, Fully Adjustable Chair
Chairs are made for the “average” person, but we all know no one is average. You spend so much time in your chair that it needs to fit you perfectly. The more parts of your chair that adjust, the better.
You should be able to adjust the following on your chair:
- seat tilt
- back-rest tension
- back-rest height relative to the seat
- chair height from the floor
- arm-rest height
- arm-rest width
- a foot rest may be needed
The seat should be tilted so that you can sit up comfortably without slouching. The back rest tension should be adjusted so that it supports your lumbar spinal area firmly, but gives enough so you are sitting at a comfortable angle when you lean back. You’ll need to adjust this setting until it is neither too stiff nor too pliable.
The lumbar support of the chair should press against your lumbar spine. If it doesn’t, the height of the back-rest relative to the seat should be adjusted.
Next, you’ll need to adjust the height of the chair from the floor. Adjust your chair so that you’re working on your desk or at your computer at the proper height. Your shoulders should be comfortable, not too tense because they are up too high (meaning your chair is too low) or drooping (meaning your chair is too high).
If you’re short, like I am, you may need a foot rest. My legs are too short to reach the floor if my chair is adjusted to optimal height for my desk. A foot rest can be a small foot stool, an old box, or even a plank of wood. It should be of the height that will rest your feet so that your legs bend comfortably with your feet flat on the surface. You may also want to use a foot rest tall enough to elevate your feet.
If you’re tall, you may need to adjust the height of your desk. You can buy a desk that is height-adjustable (recommended), or you can put your desk on stacks of wood blocks or firm, old books. Be sure whatever you raise your desk on is sturdy and can take some knocking around. Wood blocks or old books should probably be at least 10 inches by 10 inches. Wood blocks can be glued together once you find the correct height to steady them even further.
Last, adjust your arm-rests if you have them. They should be high enough to support your upper back and shoulders without allowing them to droop.
I recommend the following chairs. They are reasonably priced and fully adjustable. I own a low-back version of the first chair in black, and it makes writing at the computer extremely comfortable. I wish I had gotten the high-back chair so I could put my laptop in my lap and lean back, put my feet up and type!
For your back’s sake, don’t settle for any chair that isn’t fully adjustable!