Is Your Office Chair Damaging Your Spine?

July 9, 2021

Is the chair you use for work damaging your spine?

Our backs were built for physical activity and not to sit in one place and work. Office chairs are usually not very helpful in maintaining back health. If you speak to a spine doctor, they will confirm that an office chair that doesn’t provide proper back support can create a lot of pressure on the lower back.

What Is The Problem With Sitting For Too Long

As we all know, sitting for too long in a chair that doesn’t give adequate back support can lead to many problems. This is because, when you are sitting, the lumbosacral discs at the spine’s base have three times more pressure than when you are standing. If your chair doesn’t provide the right kind of support, it can lead to bad posture, stressing the joints and soft tissues, leading to pain.
A part of the problem is also the way you sit in the chair. If you sit down and shift your weight forward in the chair, it can increase the stress on the joints, soft tissues, and discs. This further leads to back pain and muscle tension.

Signs of a Bad Office Chair

There are so many chairs available in the market today. So how does one know what type of chair is terrible for your back? Here are some signs to watch out for:

  • The chair doesn’t have lumbar support leading to poor posture and back pain
  • No padding on the seat leading to pressure on discs
  • A fixed backrest that doesn’t allow for the position of the backrest to be adjusted
  • Fixed armrests that can get in the way of the desk. This can put pressure on your lower back and thighs
  • No armrests
  • A hard seat puts pressure on the lower back
  • No back support leading to bad posture
  • Not height adjustable leading to shoulder tension
  • Rigid backrest lacking sufficient back support
  • No wheels or castors leading to lack of movement, leading to muscle strain
  • Concave backrest in the lumbar area leading to poor posture and lack of support to the spine

    The Impact of a Bad Office Chair on the Back

    People are often familiar with the aches that come with sitting in an uncomfortable chair for a few hours. However, when these hours extend to days and weeks, the impact can last longer as well. The most common back problems caused by bad office chairs include:

    • Chronic back or neck pain
    • Bad posture
    • Spine degeneration
    • Carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Sciatica
    • Poor blood circulation
    • Pinched nerves

    What To Look For In An Office Chair

    We often think our spine is relatively straight. However, this is not true. The lower area of our spine curves naturally inwards towards the belly; this is known as the lordotic curve. This area of the back should be well-supported. A seat with good lumbar back support aids in improving posture by offering cushioning effect to the spine.
    When you get a good office chair that supports the lumbar back, the muscles around the spine are relieved of their job of keeping the spine curved naturally. The lumbar back support on the chair does this job. As a result, the pressure on the muscles is released, reducing the muscle tension that would have otherwise caused back pain.
    When your chair doesn’t provide this lumbar support, it becomes difficult to maintain the right posture. Without the support, your lumbar spine will find it challenging to maintain good posture. The large muscles in your lower back and the lumbar spine have to work extra hard to support proper spine alignment and curvature. Over time, the muscles supporting your spine in the right position begin to get weak. We tend to push our heads and upper back forward to compensate for this weakness. This further leads to more muscle tension and back pain.

    How To Find The Right Office Chair

    Keep these points in mind when you look for an ergonomic office chair:

    • It should be easily adjustable to suit your height. Your feet should be flat on the floor and your thighs horizontal when you sit on them.
    • The seat should be deep and wide to support the body comfortably.
    • The backrest should provide good support to the lower back and the spine’s natural curvature.
    • You should be able to adjust the lumbar support to suit your height.
    • The armrest should be low enough to support the arms when the shoulders are relaxed.

    Each day, several Americans spend their workdays stuck to an office chair, followed by a long commute home, where they are seated and then lounging in front of their televisions at home. This sedentary lifestyle can cause a wide range of health issues, some of which will involve the spine. As per research, a majority of adults in the US spend at least 65% of their weekdays at work, and most of that time in an office chair. That is why it is important to get an office chair that promotes good posture and a healthy spine.
    Spine problems can lead to lifelong health issues. It is important to take corrective measures as soon as you begin to notice any back pain. One of the first things to do is change your office chair if you think that is the cause of your pain. The next thing is to get timely treatment for the pain to prevent further aggravation. We offer minimally invasive spine surgery to treat back pain and other spine issues. The surgery causes minimal pain so patients can get home sooner, leading to less tissue trauma, lesser blood loss, and faster recovery. Tennessee Spine Surgeon also offers telemedicine consults to evaluate spine disorders that may need surgery. You may contact us for an appointment whether you have back pain due to a lousy office chair or any other issue related to the spine.

    Dr. Juris Shibayama
    300 StoneCrest Boulevard #300
    Smyrna Tennessee 37167
    615 267 6600

orthopedic spine surgeon

In Short Words

Dr. Juris Shibayama is an orthopedic surgeon in Smyrna, Tennessee and is affiliated TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center. He received his medical degree from University of Illinois College of Medicine. He did his orthopedic residency training at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, FL. He then completed a one year fellowship dedicated exclusively to spine surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL. He has been in practice 13 years.

© 2022 | Juris Shibayama, M.D., Orthopedic Spine Surgeon