Ergonomics is an engineering science that is interested in people and the work they do and how tasks, equipment and environment can benefit the person and not result in pain and injuries that often occur in the work place. If your office chair, or any chair that you sit in for a long period of time, is not designed to accommodate you and your specific needs, the result can be hip pain.
In the 1970s, designers began creating chairs, including toilet seats that were contoured because that was supposed to be more comfortable. Before the 1970s, chairs, seats, even car seats, were flat and non-contoured. It has since been discovered that when the contour is removed from a seat, the hip pain also ceases because the contour is the stimulus for the pain.
The contour of seats, which is supposed to be form-fitting, is often curved far more than the natural curve of the human body. The result is that the pressure of your own body when sitting causes impingement of tendons, nerves, bones, cartilage and skin. Contoured seats also result in rotation of the upper legs. When sitting on a contoured seat for long periods of time, your body's natural alignment becomes distorted, which leads to hip pain.
The United States Department of Labor recommends that your chair provide support to your buttocks, arms, back and legs while also reducing contact stress, forceful exertions and awkward postures. The chair should afford you the ability to sit in various positions, while providing necessary support for you while in these various positions.
When selecting your ergonomic chair consider the backrest, armrest, seat and base. If the backrest is not constructed well, back and hip pain as well as fatigue can result. Examine the size of the backrest, the position and the material. You need a suitable backrest to provide support to the lumbar and help maintain the natural curvature of the spine. Purchase an ergonomically correct chair that has a backrest that can be adjusted. The outward curve of the backrest needs to fit into the curve of the back. The adjustment should enable you to recline at 15 degrees from vertical. Look for a device that enables the backrest to be moved backward and forward, which is necessary for short people who want to avoid having the front edge of the seat pad making contact with their knees.
The seat of your chair must not be too high because this will leave your feet unsupported or prompt you to move forward in the chair. As a result, your back is no longer making contact with the back of the chair and is unsupported. Awkward position can result in swelling, numbness, pain, restricted circulation and fatigue.
The armrests on the chair must be positioned so that they allow your upper arm to remain close to your torso while supporting your lower arm. The armrest should be wide enough that you can easily get in and out of your chair and low enough so your shoulders can remain relaxed. Armrests should be constructed of soft material and feature rounded edges.
- Photo Credit chair image by vnlit from Fotolia.com
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