Sitting is such a simple activity, and yet it can cause us so much discomfort and even pain. Why? Well, according to Lalitha McSorley, lead physical therapist at Brentwood Physio, many of the chairs we use are not designed with our spines in mind.
“When you’re not sitting up straight, your muscles have to work harder to keep you in that position, which can lead to fatigue and pain,” McSorley says. “Sitting puts your spine in a C-shape, which is not ideal. Your head weighs as much as a bowling ball, and sitting with your neck at a 45 degree angle exerts around 55 pounds of force on shoulders and back muscles.”
That’s why when patients come to McSorley complaining about lower back pain, one of the first things she recommends is that they experiment with the settings on their office chair, to find a position that feels better. While she doesn’t consider ergonomic chairs to be a cure-all, McSorely says they can improve posture and alleviate back pain.
“Office chairs designed with ergonomics in mind distribute pressure more evenly,” she explains. “And adjustable features such as height and lumbar support can help to create a more comfortable seating position.”