I recently upgraded my computer chair to a fully ergonomic model. Nothing too fancy or weird, just a regular chair but with fully adjustable everything. I used to slouch terribly in my old chair so I considered the $500+ (yeah I know, not as much as some, but still not too shabby) that I spent on my new chair an investment in my health and posture. When I brought my chair home, I had all the best intentions in mind, I would adjust everything perfectly and begin to sit at my computer properly, according to all the rules. I lasted about 3 hours after that I was back to my old slouching ways.
It’s the funniest thing, but maintaining correct posture while sitting at your computer is damned uncomfortable, no matter what chair you use, which means I for one start slouching very quickly. So, after finding some comfortable and creative ways to slouch in my new chair I decided to do some research and find out if there is an ergonomic chair out there that can completely prevent you from ruining your posture slouching.
I found that there were 5 distinct types of ergonomic chairs out there.
1. Standard/Mesh Fully Adjustable Chair (With Lumbar Support)
This is your regular stock standard ergonomic chair, looks like a normal chairs except you can adjust everything, height, back tilt, seat tilt and sometimes you can move the back further away from the seat as well.
You can’t really prevent yourself from slouching on these ones, you either have to constantly keep adjusting it, or you let your slouchy creativity flow. Try sliding down low on one of these babies, lower back problems anyone. How about leaning over to the side and putting most of your weight on one of the arm-rests, also very possible and reasonably comfortable.
These chairs don’t really do anything special to stop you from slouching, they are only good for people who don’t slouch already and just need a comfortable chair to support their good posture.
2. Saddle Ergonomic Chair
Now, we are cooking with gas. The saddle chair is shaped somewhat like a horse saddle (duh!), and comes with a back or without that’s up to individual preference. These chairs can put you into a half-straddling, half-standing position which makes regular slouching down in a chair impossible.
Those people who think standing up prevents you from slouching have never seen teens “hanging out” down at whatever local hang-out spot they frequent. Relaxing your shoulders and curving them slightly forward while standing up is the very definition of slouching and it’s super cool too (TV says so, therefore it must be true).
This chair fails also. Good concept and if it works for you then by all means use it, as far as I am concerned you can slouch on this as much if not more than on a regular chair.
3. Exercise Ball Ergonomic Chair
Everybody knows that fitness balls are good for you, right? I mean they’re in all the gyms and everybody uses them for all sorts of funny exercises so they must be awesome. So, we put a chair on a platform to prevent it from rolling away from you and we have the perfect office chair. Not only will you help your posture but you can get those rock-hard abba-dabbas all at the same time.
Well, I have to admit, as sarcastic as my last paragraph was this is actually not a bad concept. You can’t slide down on one of these and slouching sideways is also closed to you with no armrest. However once again, the fitness ball relies on you consciously keeping your back straight, nothing is preventing you from stooping your shoulders working on that perfect S-shaped spine that is all the rage these days.
And so another one bites the dust, it is certainly a possibility for some, but only if you have the motivation, willpower and presence of mind to consciously work on your posture.
4. Kneeling Ergonomic Chair
I’ve seen these ones before, it is an older concept that has been around for a while and there is probably a reason why it hasn’t disappeared in that time. The idea is that there is a platform in front of the seat that you rest your knees on so that your feet are pointing back rather than being in front of you as in a regular chair. These also come with or without a backrest depending on preference.
Because of the way your legs are positioned it is impossible for you to slide down in this chair or slouch sideways. The even better thing about this chair is that it also makes it fairly difficult for you to slouch your shoulders forward. It is not impossible mind you, but it does tend to be more comfortable to sit in this chair if you back is straight.
Out of the five types of chairs that I mention, I would consider this one the best type of ergonomic chair to help you correct and maintain your posture while you’re at your computer. That is, the best one if you want to still look more or less like a regular Joe office-worker. If you however want to get your weirdness meter going full bore there is the next chair.
5. Zero Gravity Recliner Chair
I love the idea of this chair. This one is a full-on recliner chair and it is meant to be used by people who have back problems and simply aren’t able to use a regular chair for long periods of time. With this one you sit in a semi-reclined or even an almost fully reclined position. Obviously if you’re using one of these chairs, you can’t use a regular table (if you’re asking why, then think about it). You need to get a special desk/table that attaches to one of these chairs you can then out your laptop on it or write on it as well. I wouldn’t recommend trying to use a desktop PC with one of these, don’t think they are designed for it.
This one is probably tops as far as preventing you from slouching. Since you’re in an almost fully-reclined position, you can’t slide down and going sideways is also tough even though there are armrests. Slouching your shoulders is also not a problem, you’re reclining after all.
The biggest point in favour of this chair is that if you’re using one of these you probably already have some back issues which most likely provides you all the motivation you need to not slouch while you’re working. Even if you did find some creative ways to do it (which I probably could if I tried hard enough), you wouldn’t do it cause you know how much of an issue back problems can be.
So what did we learn from all this? Well, sadly slouching is like an addiction, once you’re used to it it is very hard to stop yourself from doing it and just like with any addiction willpower and persistence are the only ways to break your slouching habit. The first thing to do is to admit that you have a slouching problem (I definitely do). The second step is that you have to really want to kick your slouching habit, sadly I don’t think I am at that stage yet, if there was an easy way I would probably go for it, but I just don’t have the motivation to really put in the effort to teach myself not to slouch. I hope the motivation will come eventually, knowing something is bad for you is one thing, but doing something about it is altogether a different story.
The question I have for everyone is this. Do you know of any easy tips to help someone teach themselves not to slouch when they are at their computer? Maybe there is a simple way to slowly wean yourself off slouching and I just don’t know about it. Here is an idea, maybe I missed some sort of ultra-super-slouch-preventative chair (that doesn’t make you the office posture mascot). If you know of any other types of ergonomic seating, then please leave a comment and tell me about it.