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DATE: 12/31/2015

What did we do before computers?

It’s something we’ve all asked ourselves at one point or another – whether in goodnatured jest or total seriousness. While there are many possible answers to said question, our answer as an interior solutions provider is more about what we didn’t do: We didn’t sit as much!

Though our desktop computers have undoubtedly provided many benefits, one of the downsides has been the uncomfortability of maintaining a static posture for hours on end. Since the average San Antonio office worker reportedly spends 80 percent of their day sitting, ergonomic researchers have heavily focused on understanding the biomechanics between man and chair for the past three decades.

“One of the goals in modern ergonomics is to promote posture variability, as we now know being constrained to one posture, even if comfortable, can be detrimental to the health of certain structures of the body,” said Peter Johnson, associate professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Science as the University of Washington, as reported by Steelcase.

While many manufacturers still advocate seating solutions optimized for upright postures, an accumulating body of research is turning the old thought process on its head. Not to mention, today’s smartphones, tablets and laptops have made the average worker more mobile than ever before. With this in mind, furniture designer Steelcase commissioned a study to reassess the office chair from the perspective of today’s worker. The 2013 Global Posture Study observed more than 2,000 people in 11 countries, working in a variety of settings.

What the study found was eye-opening – with devices in hand, workers shifted into an astounding 30 different postures as they switched tasks throughout the day. Researchers further determined many of these postures contributed to unnecessary stress, strain and pain on the body. Here we’d like to emphasize two key suggestions for posture support, as supported by this recent study:

Enhance Integrated Movement

Unless you’re an alien from outer space, it’s safe to say your body moves in an interconnected way: Hips follow feet, shoulders follow hips, head follows shoulders and so on. Unsurprisingly, when shifting positions in an office chair, optimal support is achieved when the chair seat and back naturally move in a synchronistic way.

Not only does such a design provide consistent core and lumbar support, it encourages people to shift positions more often. This is important, as studies show that making small movements throughout a work routine will transfer support to new muscles and ligaments, thus allowing strained ones to relax.

Ensure Maximum Armrest Contact

Interestingly, researchers found today’s workers are moving their arms more often than when they were keyboarding at a traditional desktop computer. The reason? Touch-based devices that have caused work to become more asymmetrical.

Reportedly, such movements can contribute to neck, shoulder and back pain over time. The recommended solution is to individually fit products to users, thus ensuring maximum arm-to-armrest contact. Though this type of personalization may seem inconvenient when fitting an entire office, it is possible. Consider providing staff with their choice of three pre-selected chairs to get started.

Keep these guidelines in mind when choosing the next office chairs for your workspace and you’ll enhance the postures of your staff for maximum comfort and productivity. Ready to get started on your next redesign?

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