Now I’m not saying my butt has sat on every office chair in the world, but I have done quite a bit of research on this vital requirement for the home office and on how to avoid back pain through the wrong purchase. Here are my findings… by Tania O’Donnell
I have spent a lot of money on office chairs over the years. When I’ve been flush, I’ve gone for those big, executive leather ones that swivel and allow you to take Manhattan. When I’ve been broke, I’ve gone for cheap-as-chips plastic chairs from Ikea. One thing I have noticed is that no matter how much I spend on chairs, I invariably get back pain after a while because of the intense nature of my job. By that I don’t mean I strap the chair to my back and then go down the mines. I mean that a journalist/editor can spend up to 16 hours a day at his or her desk and it can be truly punishing on the body.
So the next time that my chair decided to break, I made the call to actually research back pain and office chairs properly. I asked four osteopaths and two back pain specialists about sitting at a desk. This led to a number of interesting ideas about how we work. For example, when you start a new job, most corporations will send around someone from occupational health to evaluate your desk set-up. The top third of your screen should align with your eyesight if you look straight ahead. I know this and it is why I wince whenever I see people working for long periods of time on a laptop. It is awful for your body to work that way.
Are you sitting comfortably?
Your wrists should rest comfortably in front of your keyboard and your mouse should move easily, even more ideal if you have one of those ergonomic mice. I used to have a wrist support as I suffer quite a bit from RSI. They’re lovely. Indulge in one if you can. Your feet should be able to rest flat against the floor when you sit. If not, you may need a footstool or to raise/lower your chair height.
These were all things I was aware of, but a throwaway comment from one of the folks I quizzed about chairs and back pain led me in a new direction. “Children’s bones are still growing and so it is really important to ensure you update their furniture as they get older.” Now, I wasn’t doing anything on children’s furniture at all, but it made me realise that surely the best regulations govern furniture in schools aimed at children. After all, they are our future so hopefully everyone buying for kids would make sure things were particularly good.
Best for posture
I had a eureka moment and began looking into chairs used in schools. After all, the wee sprites spend quite a long time sat at them. The UK’s bestselling brand for school chairs is one called Postura by a company Sebel. It is a plastic chair made from in a single injectable mould. It took about six weeks for my one to ship and you have to dig around a little before you can find a distributor that will allow you to order a single one as opposed to the 10 chair minimum. I have previously advised journalists to form buying groups in order to make the 10 chair minimum order – the adult sized EN6 chairs are only around £35 tops with delivery so highly affordable.
There is one terrible thing about these amazing chairs; they are so comfortable that you won’t realise how long you’ve been sat at your desk and you’ll feel very stiff when you get up. To combat this, I use this tomato timer from the Pomodoro efficiency method in order to ensure I get up and stretch every 25 minutes.
Finally, I noticed that, while the chair is very comfortable, it is not luxurious to sit upon. Owen Barry is a British company celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. The company does a number of different sheepskin and cowhide products, made in its Somerset manufacturing facility from 100% food industry by-products. We got sent an Ivory Yetti Sheepskin seat pad from the company and this finished off what is the best, most comfortable, office chair in the world.
We’ll be talking about Owen Barry products again in more depth once the weather turns a bit more in alignment with some of its most cosy products. However, for now, feast your eyes on that comfy seatpad.