Do Office Chairs Cause Workers Back Pain?

After work stress illness, back disorders (back pain basically) is recognised as one of the top causes for long term sickness in the UK.

Tip from the Rainbow Zebra: Almost 8 million days at work were permanently lost in the UK during 2010 because of back pain caused at work.

Generally bad backs are caused more by sitting poorly for long periods at your desk than lifting heavy loads - if you are suffering pain it is likely you have adopted the wrong posture which with the right orthopaedic office chair, taking frequent breaks (moving around not sat in the coffee room!) and sitting correctly can help alleviate or remove the back pain altogether. 

The Right Posture

Do you sit slumped at your desk, or straining to reach the keyboard whilst locking your knees under your seat? Either way this type of sitting is going to cause most office workers some problems!

Even if you maintain the correct posture you are still at risk from a back problem if you remain seated for long hours at your desk, you need to move away from your desk at regular intervals and stretch those legs. Easier said than done if you are in a busy office where you are expected to sit at your desk (call centres for one) so it pays to manage your schedule and plan your moves.

Essentially you should not slouch, you should keep your back straight and do make sure you give your lower back enough support. Adjusting your office chair to suit you is critical, a simple tweak to an office chair can make all the difference to your back!

You are entitled to ask for a Work Place Assessment as your employer has a duty to you to minimise any risk of physical injury or mental harm to your person - so if you think you are at risk from back pain then go ahead and ask your boss - they should not say no! 

Other Factors causing you back pain that you didn't know about:

Its not just the office chair that can give you back pain there are other factors you need to know about:

  • How far away is your computer screen? Are you having to lean in to see it (so think about not just the position but also your eyes and their health too!)
  • How is your office desk laid out? Is it clean and tidy or are you constantly reaching over something to type or grab files
  • Your computer mouse - does the wire reach the PC and is the mouse positioned correctly for you?
  • Do you have an ergonomic keyboard? Is it wireless? Is there plenty of room to pull it closer to you or does the wire from the keyboard keep pulling the keyboard back?
  • Consider the office chair's height, we seem to see them positioned way too low or far too high (usually as the result of a desk that stands too tall!)

How to adjust your office chair like a pro!

Don't accept anything less than an ergonomically designed, orthopaedic office chair - is your chair one of these? If so it should have these features at the very least:

  • Adjustable Seat height
  • Back rest (with height adjustment and back and seat tilt functionality)
  • The back rest should ideally independently of the chair seat to ensure maximum comfort

When in the seated position you want to make sure your thighs are sloping slightly downward (or at right angles to your body if that is more comfortable) and keep your feet flat on the floor, though if you struggle to do this then invest in a good quality footrest. Make sure you do not restrict circulation in your legs, you'll know if you are as you'll feel a dull feeling in one or both legs and this can lead to some pretty intense back pain in the long term.

Rainbow Zebra is making waves in the office furniture industry, how many Zebra's can say that??

If you need more advice on choosing the right orthopaedic office chair then get in touch, we know it can be difficult choosing the right kind of chair to help minimise or resolve your back pain then call the Rainbow Zebra direct on 0800 092 1985 today.

Posted by Paul Randall
30th May 2013