Do you ever find yourself slouching in your office chair at work? What about sitting back with your back curved while watching a movie? We all let posture deteriorate every now and then, typically in the name of greater comfort.
While it might feel relaxing to lean back and put your feet up, comfort and having a healthy sitting posture don’t necessarily need to be mutually exclusive. Having good posture can in fact increase your comfort level, both at home and at the office.
The key to achieving the right combination of posture and comfort is in choosing the right chair for your environment, your sitting habits and your body type. Even if you have “bad” posture due to habit, the right type of chair can make a huge difference.
In this guide, we’ll look at the type of chairs that provide the best support for your spine and posterior chain, encouraging good posture. We’ll also share the reasons to take your posture seriously and the benefits good posture offers for your health.
WHY GOOD POSTURE IS SO IMPORTANT
It’s easy to slouch – in fact, many of us do purely due to habit. Holding your head up straight above your shoulders, your shoulders back and your back straight requires quite a lot of energy, especially when it’s sustained over an entire workday.
For the untrained, good posture can seem like hard work. But the reality is that good posture comes naturally when you change your habits and make small adjustments to the way you sit down.
There are numerous reasons to take posture seriously, from preventing back pain to improving your muscle tone. Some of the biggest benefits of good posture aren’t as well known as others – they include:
- Improved digestion and, for many people, an end to reflux and other serious digestive conditions, due to a change in the position of your rib cage relative to the rest of your body.
- Improved cardiovascular health and deeper, healthier breathing. Since bad posture puts increased pressure on your chest and back, it can result in you taking short, shallow breaths that affect your respiratory system.
- Better concentration. Although this effect may be more psychological than physiological, studies show that people with good posture tend to be more focused and attentive than people that slouch when they sit down.
Your bad posture might not affect you now, but it could when you’re older. Take it seriously today and you’ll be thanking yourself for it 10, 20 or 30 years in the future when the negative effects of bad posture in other people become more apparent.
WHICH TYPES OF CHAIRS PROMOTE GOOD POSTURE
Many people associate good posture with discipline – after all, if you pay enough attention to your posture and intentionally keep your back straight, you can sit up straight even on a barstool.
Spend eight straight hours on a barstool, however, and there’s no chance you won’t have slouched at least a little bit during your shift. The type of chair you use – more importantly, the type of back it features – has a huge effect on your posture.
The basic features a chair requires for good posture are fairly simple. The first is a high back that supports not just your lower back, but your entire back – from your buttocks all the way up to your neck and head.
Ergonomic office chairs are excellent choices for improving your posture, especially if you have habitually bad posture. While they might feel too supportive for some, an ergonomic chair forces you to have good posture, reversing bad habits.
GOOD CHAIRS FOR HEALTHY POSTURE AT WORK
In the office – whether at work or in your home office – search for a few features to ensure your chair provides the right combination of support and comfort that you’ll require to develop good posture:
- A high back that supports your lower back, shoulders and neck
- Adjustable armrests that keep your elbows level with your desk
- A comfortable seat that’s supportive without being too soft
The longer you spend seated in front of your workstation, the more important each of the features above becomes. Long shifts often start with good posture that slowly gets worse as the hours drag on and your body and brain become more tired.
If your feet don’t sit comfortable on the ground when you’re seated in your office chair, consider using a footrest. A properly-sized footrest will raise your legs just above your knees, tilting your entire body back and improving your position.
GOOD CHAIRS FOR HEALTHY POSTURE AT HOME
While a good office chair can do wonders for your posture, it won’t be much help if you spend your non-working hours at home slouching on the sofa. Luckily, it’s easy to find sofas and living room armchairs that encourage and support good posture.
The key features to look for in a supportive living room chair are the same as those in an office chair: a high back that supports your lower and upper back, armrests to keep your arms at the right level and enough height to let your feet sit on the floor.
Sofas that are too low to the ground – for example, low-slung sofas and loveseats – force your hips to sit too far below your knees. This often means your upper body will compensate for the unnatural position with a curved back and shoulders.
Choose a sofa or armchair that lets you sit comfortably with your knees just slightly higher than your hips. A good sofa should place your knees about an inch above the top of your pelvis. Like at the office, you can also use a footrest with your sofa.
Just like with your office chair, you’ll want to choose a sofa that combines comfort and support. Select a sofa soft but supportive cushioning that lets you sit for hours at a time without discomfort but isn’t so soft that you “sink” into it when you sit.
REMEMBER, GOOD POSTURE REQUIRES GOOD HABITS
No matter how ergonomic your office chair might be, its benefits are wasted if you spend most of your day slouched forward over your desk with your feet up off the ground, your shoulders forward and your back curved.
Recently, through a combination of incorrect sleeping posture, an idiot gym trainer & a bad chair, I ended up with a fairly bad back ache.— Ree (@ScrollsNInk) 20 January 2015
Good furniture can make improving your posture easier, but it can’t do everything for you. Combine supportive, comfortable furniture with hard work, willpower and good habits and you’ll find improving your posture surprisingly easy.