A Guide To Good Seating & Posture
Chairs for posture: Why we need a good chair
We’ll take a guess that you’re probably seated right now. Are we right?
Sitting is an integral part of our daily lives; whether it’s relaxing on the sofa, eating at the dining table, working hard at the office or travelling on a bus, we’ll all be sitting down (fingers crossed for the bus) at some point. That’s why making sure you’ve got good chairs for posture in your home is crucial.
As we age, the need to sit down may increase. Research cited by the British Heart Foundation states that, on average, people between the age of 65 and 75 spend 10 or more hours per day in a sedentary position. By the age of 75+, this number has increased to 11 hours.
Prolonged sitting has been linked with several health concerns and so, in an ideal world, the solution would be sitting less and moving more. Similarly, bad posture can cause minor problems that can grow over time.
But what if we have to sit for long periods of time due to health, employment or other lifestyle factors? In this case, knowing all about the best chairs for posture is a great starting point to ensure your body can rest well and move better.
Why are good posture chairs important?
Well, over time many of us develop what is known, in Occupational Therapist circles, as a “Comfort Posture”. This term refers to the most comfortable position we adopt in a particular seat. If our usual furniture does not support us in a way that encourages correct posture, then our “Comfort Posture” will be heavily impacted.
An easy way to understand this is to think back to a time when you’ve had to sit in a chair you’re not accustomed to; at first, you may have found it an odd, even painful, experience, trying to get used to a different bed or chair. This is because your muscles (and brain) learn the most comfortable position to be in, and when we go somewhere new, our muscles are then challenged and put under new forces whilst we try to find our new “Comfort Posture”.
Having a chair that meets your postural requirements is key here. However, once you have found an appropriate chair for posture, it is usual to experience short-term muscle discomfort, as your body learns to adopt a new and hopefully better position to rest in. In most cases, this should last no more than two-to-three weeks, and less, if coupled with regular exercise and movement.
How can a bad chair and prolonged sitting be bad for your health?
When you don’t have the right chair, you’re at risk of facing the below problems.
Negatively impacting the natural curvature of your spine
Good chairs for posture support a healthy back and its three natural curves, which you can learn more about here. Having the right chair or sofa, will help to maintain these natural curves and avoid loading more stress on joints and causing pain.
This can lead to increased aches and pains, risk of injury/falls and loss of independence. Poor posture can also cause problems with digestion; it is known to contribute to poor circulation; and your breathing can be heavily affected if you aren’t sitting in the correct upright position.
Several studies have linked lack of movement with increased mental health problems; including anxiety, depression, and social withdrawal.
Increased risk of diseases
Another point raised by numerous studies; excessive sitting has been associated with a whole range of diseases. Sitting for long periods of time slows down the metabolism, which needs to be working as it helps the body work as it should.
Pressure sore development
As we age, our circulatory system becomes slower and we are at increased risk of developing pressure sores. Ensuring that your chair and mattress are suitable for your height, weight and body type, and provide good postural support can go a long way to decreasing this risk.
But don’t despair, the good news is that these complications can be avoided.
How to find good seating that supports a healthy posture
Here at HSL we have spent a long time, in consultation with our independent Occupational Therapist Julie Jennings Dip COT HCPC, developing and perfecting our 7-Point Seating Assessment™.
In our HSL Stores, our Comfort Specialists are always ready and waiting to assess your unique needs. Our experts check that each of the following parts of your body are fully supported, giving you unrivalled comfort:
|Hip Position||Bottom fits into the back of the seat.|
|Height||If the seat height is correct, the feet will be flat on the floor. The entire upper leg should also be fully supported so that the knee almost forms a right angle.|
|Seat Depth||If the depth of the seat is correct, the calf should gently kiss the leg rest or allow for a flat hand to be placed between the calf and leg rest.|
|Width||The correct width is vital to help spread the weight across the seat. It provides pelvic stability and prevents leaning to one side.|
|Lower Back||The lumbar area; the natural curve in the back, is supported by the chair.|
|Neck and Head||When the neck is supported correctly the head is not forced forward or too high above the back of the chair.|
|Arm Position||Elbows to fingers must be in contact with the arm of the chair. The forearm should be supported with the shoulders in their natural resting position.|