Because they are all the rage. But what’s the truth and what’s just marketing?
We decided to look closer and report back.
So here’s the real truth about ergonomic chairs, standing desks, and alternative work spaces.
The Good News
Let’s start with the pros of ergonomic desk chairs, because it’s always good to start off on the right foot.
Ergonomic chairs can help with any number of aches and pains caused by sitting in one place for a long period of time.
Sitting in the wrong desk chair for too long every day can greatly impact your entire skeletal structure. While sitting may take less energy than standing or walking, it also puts pressure on your spine and hips.
But an ergonomic desk chair can help minimize that strain. The right ergonomic desk chair can help with or even prevent:
• Poor posture
• Circulation issues
• Muscle strain
• Back pain
• Hip and joint pain
All because an ergonomic desk chair helps you maintain good posture while you sit, keeps your hips and neck in alignment, and supports your lower back.
Look for a chair that has lumbar support, appropriate arm rests, keeps your feet flat on the ground (or allows you to use a foot rest), and is the right height to keep your neck straight.
As beneficial as ergonomic desk chairs are, there’s also a move away from any kind of desk chair to a standing desk or work space.
Research seems to indicate that sitting for more than four hours at a time is so bad for your health that it’s equivalent to smoking cigarettes.
Studies are showing that by simply standing up, you can improve your overall health and reduce your risk of serious illness significantly.
As a result, proponents of standing work spaces have made a push to install standing work spaces in offices in order to reduce the amount of time we spend sitting.
And people who have made the switch to standing workplaces over ergonomic chairs reported seeing improvements in focus, productivity, and energy.
Workers have even lost weight due to an increased metabolism rate caused by simply using a standing desk. Even back pain that was caused by sitting too much is reduced.
In light of all this, it’s easy to see why someone would rush out and get an ergonomic desk chair or a standing desk! But before you do…
The Not-So Good News
Even ergonomic desk chairs have their down-side. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that there is no one fix that will work for every person, every time.
It doesn’t matter if your boss or your best friend is now pain-free with perfect posture thanks to their ergonomic desk chair. You shouldn’t race out and spend your hard earned money on the exact same chair until you’ve had a chance to try it out.
Marketers will have you believe that you’ll get the exact same results – but that’s also the marketers’ job. Trust your own body. If an ergonomic desk chair is so uncomfortable that you do your work at your kitchen table instead, then it’s just a waste of money.
Also, an ergonomic desk chair is nothing more than a tool. It’s not a fix on its own. You have to be willing to think about your posture and positioning. Get up and move around. Make sure to stretch. Don’t think that a chair – any chair – is going to fix your back pain by itself.
If ergonomic desk chairs aren’t the guaranteed fix, surely standing desks are, right? Unfortunately, no. As it turns out, your body wasn’t designed to stand for hours on end, either.
Even though sitting may cause your shoulders, neck, and upper back to hurt, standers report pain in their lower backs, legs, and feet. Standing all day can also aggravate your hips, and even cause circulation issues.
Plus, if your posture isn’t spot on, you can create joint issues – just like when you’re sitting.
So What Should You Do?
As it turns out, neither an ergonomic desk chair nor a standing desk is the great cure-all they were touted to be.
Sitting all day or standing all day are both bad for your health because, as further research is indicating, it’s more about movement than position.
Instead of sitting all day in an ergonomic desk chair or standing all day at a standing workstation, try to stand for twenty minutes, then sit for twenty minutes.
Or, if that’s too distracting, stand for ten minutes out of every hour. Every two hours, walk away from whatever has you sitting and standing just to take break for fifteen minutes or so.
But most importantly, keep moving throughout your day. If you’re sitting in an ergonomic desk chair or standing at your workstation, don’t spend too much time stationary. That’s the real issue.