To many in today’s cubicle-farm culture, the notion of ‘good posture’ hearkens back to the Victorian era of extended pinkies and balancing books on your head. But for all of the passé-ness, good posture actually is pretty important to people who suffer from regular lower back pain. If you have a tendency to slouch or slump and your chair doesn’t support you when you do, you could end up in a world of hurt. There are only two options at that point: the obvious “correct” option is to correct your posture. The more reasonable option for many people is to get the best chair for good posture and use it consistently.
Correcting Your Posture
Good posture when you’re sitting is actually fairly straightforward.
- Scoot Back: Snuggle your tailbone up against the back of the seat so that it’s securely supported. Any half-decent office chair will have a lumbar support curve that rests fairly snugly against your back, even if the chair is one of those half-back deals. It’s important that you keep the support curve supporting your curve; thus, the scoot-back rule.
- Relax Upward: Breathe out, and stretch the top of your skull toward the ceiling. This will naturally straighten up your neck, align your shoulders, and even out your spine. You should be putting less pressure on the lumbar curve at this point, but you should still feel it.
- Lean Just Slightly Back: Now relax and lean back about ten degrees. If you’re at a typical office desk, put your elbows on your armrests and your wrists on your wrist rest, arms angled slightly inward so that your fingers naturally rest on the home keys of your keyboard. If you feel unpleasant pressure on your thighs by the backs of your knees, adjust your seat pan tilt to match the actual angle of your thighs in this position.
…and that’s it! If you can manage to do this regularly, you can get by in almost any modern office chair.
Correcting Your Chair
Of course, not all of us have the mental wherewithal to keep track of our posture as we get deep into our daily grind; for those of us that don’t, a chair that helps us keep good posture is an important tool. As you might imagine, the elements of such a chair equate, to a degree, with the posture items above. The best chair for good posture will have:
- Fully Adjustable Lumbar Support: There are lots of office chairs whose lumbar support curve can be adjusted upwards or downwards to work with people of different height — but that’s still just the beginning. Preferably, your office chair will also be able to adjust the depth of the seat pan so that the lumbar support is automatically in place (without having to deliberately scoot back.)
- Dynamic Counterbalanced Movement: The other element to a great chair for posture is that it will move with you as you lean forward and back (thus preventing the need for deliberate positioning and then leaning back.) Dynamic counterbalanced chairs are new and still fairly expensive in many cases, but if you’re worried about your spinal health (or just looking like a slug slouching in a normal chair), they’re well worth the cost.