“A man is as young as his spinal column.” – Joseph H Pilates, inventor of the Pilates method of physical training.
The Pros and Cons of Bipedalism:
Unlike most other animals, and even most other primates, humans are obligate bipeds. Our bipedalism offers us some remarkable advantages over our quadrupedal friends, but it comes with some serious drawbacks. Among our advantages we count our freed up hands, which you likely used to read this article as well as to make and eat your breakfast. It is also remarkably energy efficient, as we exert less effort while standing, walking, or even running. Cheetahs may be able to sprint at a blinding 80mph, compared to our measly average top speed of 28mph, but humans can keep up close-to-top speed for hours on end if properly trained, while a cheetah can only sprint for about half a minute. In this post, you will find the importance of choosing a Good Office Chair for you.
Nothing is perfect of course. This setup puts a high strain on our spinal column and pelvic joints. Our lumbar region supports the entirety of our upper half and our pelvic joints have to cope with supporting our entire weight alternating from leg to leg as we walk or run. Another downside is our fragility. Much like a tower of bricks or a certain wooden block based game, our bones can support stress along the vertical axis fairly well. But apply some force horizontally, say from your loving but excitable dog crashing into your tentative tower of game night triumph, or you tripping over a very stealthy rock, and suddenly the structure isn’t so hot at handling force.
The Bane of Spines: Bad Posture
The lesson to learn here is that we have to play to our strengths, and that our spine’s strengths include staying vertical. To keep the analogy going, imagine what would happen if your tower was stacked lopsidedly. It would slide apart, unless it was well balanced. In much the same way your body needs to have good posture or stress will accrue to the disks and joints. This is where the analogy breaks down somewhat, because proper posture doesn’t mean ruler straight. As anyone who’s leaned against a wall for an extended period can attest, it’s fairly uncomfortable. So what is a humble biped to do?
One good answer is not to stay in one position for too long, take a break every two hours even if it’s just to do a quick stretch. Sitting in one position can lead to sore muscles, and even strained tendons if the posture is bad enough. Poor posture can also contribute to poor circulation. The overwhelming majority (around 86% by some estimates) of Americans will spend most of their day in a seated position. Furthermore lower back pain is the leading cause cited in work disability, with over 80% of Americans suffering from it at some point. That’s four out of every five Americans!
So it’s safe to say this is a pressing concern that most people aren’t getting right. So the key to posture can’t just be breaks, those are required by the law. What else could we be missing here? Well, in between those rare breaks most of us will be seated in an office chair of some sort. Especially with the recent events leading to people working at home more and more, we’re likely to see a spike in office related injuries. I propose a solution for the Good Office Chair.
A good office chair can be expensive but you can get an office chair under $500 that will provide you with comfort. That’s right. The good office chair beneath you could be the source of all your chiropractic woes. Improper seating can worsen or even cause bad posture. Each person’s body is unique and so are its needs. A chair that works for one may cause trouble for another. In particular, a chair needs proper back support, leg height, arm height, and firmness. Comfortable firmness will prevent undue tension and make for an overall pleasant experience, while the other three will support the more mechanical aspects of good posture. Arm height is an aspect that often goes underappreciated.
A good office chair with improper or even no arms will hinder you in keeping your arms comfortable at the roughly 90 degree angle that is recommended and is generally not an aspect of a chair that can readily be modified. Leg length is thankfully a malleable aspect of most office chairs, but it’s important to make sure the one you pick can extend or retract to the perfect height for you. Finally we come to back support, the holy grail of chair qualities. This is by far the most important part of your chair. Your chair needs to be able to support your back without causing slouching or leaning back. So in conclusion: Pick the right chair for you, much like your bed you’re probably going to spend a significant portion of your life in it.