Do you find that after a full day at work your back aches and your neck and shoulders are stiff and sore? Do you have people tell you that you need an ergonomic or orthopaedic chair to deal with these challenges? What is the difference between the two? Furthermore, is an orthopaedic chair better than an ergonomic chair?
A poorly designed chair can result in muscular strain, discomfort and soreness, particularly in your back, shoulders and neck. You may not notice these effects right away, but if the chair does not provide sufficient support for your spine it may eventually result in medical complications. In the information age where computer-based jobs require you to sit at a desk for long periods during the day, moving around isn’t always an option.
Our bodies are not designed to be sitting all day long and thrive when we move and walk around.
In this Article we explore the question: Is an orthopaedic chair better than an ergonomic chair, and how do you choose the right one?
What is an ergonomic chair?
An ergonomic chair is one that has been designed with the intention of optimising support for your body while sitting. The design includes considerations like posture, comfort, support, health and safety. The key feature of any good ergonomic chair is that it is highly adjustable. Because your sitting posture changes throughout the day, a good chair needs to accommodate these changes by continually supporting your body.
What is an orthopaedic chair?
An orthopaedic chair is designed to provide your spine and skeletal system with the best possible support. It offers support for the lumbar region of your spine so that you can sit in a position that keeps you from hunching over and straining your shoulders. An Orthopaedic chair will therefore have all the features of a highly rated ergonomic chair, with a stronger focus on back support. There are many different types of orthopaedic chairs available out there, but what they all have in common is that they are focused on the comfort of your spine. A few good examples are shown below.
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What is the best chair for me?
Chairs that are sold as ergonomic chairs are designed to suit a range of people. However, there is no perfect “one size fits all”. For example, for a short slim person, a standard chair could be too high and the armrests too far apart. In such a case, the chair may need a different height adjuster or armrests that have width adjustment. In addition, chairs may not suit every task or arrangement at the workstation. The right chair is always one that fits:
- your body size and shape
- your workstation (e.g. dentists require a different chair than industrial workers or computer operators)
- the task that you have to perform.
Remember that the chair is only one of the components to be considered in an ergonomically correct workstation design. Accessories play a vital role in setting up an ergonomic workstation. Thus, elements, in addition to the type of chair selected, such as a footrest, work surface (for height adjustability), document holders, task lighting and monitor mountings should be included in the design process of an ergonomically correct workstation setup.
Author: Philip Wichmann
Director at Karo Manufacturing (Pty) Ltd