The modern work force spends eight to ten hours a day sitting in an office chair, typing on a computer. Humans were not designed to sit for extended periods of time and your back, neck and shoulders are often the most impacted by long periods of sitting, especially if you are doing so in a low-quality chair.
More and more employees are reporting that they are experiencing issues with their sciatic nerve due to the many hours that they are required to sit at their desk while working. Your sciatic nerve is often the first pain point that is inflamed by a poorly-designed chair or a chair that does not fit you.
What is Sciatica and what causes it?
Dr Thanu Jey, clinic director at Yorkville Sports Medicine Clinic, says sciatica is a collection of symptoms and that sciatica is an irritation of the sciatic nerve that runs from your low back and down the back of your leg. This is typically a sharp, shooting pain that is accompanied by numbness.
Some common causes of sciatica symptoms are
- Disc herniation: A disc herniation is when the discs between your vertebrae become damaged and the soft inner part of your disc pushes on the outer edge of the disc and it causes irritation of your nerves. Your nerves are very sensitive so even a small amount of pressure can cause severe symptoms.
- Degenerative Disc Disease: as you get older there is more wear and tear that occurs on your intervertebral discs. As they continue to wear down the now degenerated disc can start to pressure on your nerves and cause irritation of your sciatic nerve.
- Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: lumbar spinal stenosis is narrowing of the spinal canal. When spinal stenosis occurs it can also cause irritation of your sciatic nerve pain.
Who is at risk of sciatica?
According to Caleb Backe of calebbacke.com, if you are in a job that requires lifting and twisting, carry heavy loads, or prolonged sitting you are more exposed to the risk of sciatica symptoms. Obesity also puts increased stress on the spine as does pregnancy which can trigger sciatica.
How to avoid sciatica with good seating posture
The way to avoid sciatica, especially if your job involves a lot of sitting at a desk, is to exercise good posture. Although this can involve training with a physical therapist, it can also help to have supportive seat, which is what this article is all about.
Dr Alice Holland of stridestrong.com advises that the best position to sit in is to adjust your chair and surface of your desk so that you can satisfy the following conditions:
- Feet flat on the floor or flat on a footstool.
- Knees bent to 90 degrees, and no less and no more.
- Hips bent to 90 degrees.
- Lumbar support in the low back curvature of the spine, such that you can sit upright.
- Elbows just grazing the arm supports.
In this guide, we will be focusing on guiding you to achieve this seating position, by recommending high quality, ergonomic chairs for prolonged sitting. Read on to avoid deteriorating symptoms and learn more about what seating options will work for you.
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Why it’s Important to Get the Right Chair for Sciatica
Staples conducted a survey to see how many American workers felt comfortable all day at work. 86% of workers said they were not comfortable in their chair. A further 41% said that their chairs caused them physical pain. The survey was able to directly link this discomfort with a reduction in productivity. Prolonged sitting can cause lasting damage to your spine if you do not protect your body from injury by sitting properly and using a good quality office chair.
While some businesses are moving toward cubicle models that are designed for standing up all day, stand up desks bring their own ergonomic struggles to bear on a person who is using the stand-up-to-work model. The reality is that the human body is made for alternating periods of activity and rest, and neither cubicle model is going to totally meet the ergonomic needs of most workers.
Because most employees will be seated for the majority of their work day, the kind of chair that they are sitting in has a huge impact on their overall health. The most important part of your body that is affected by the chair that you have selected is your spine, and the number of people who are suffering from back pain and sciatica related to poor-quality office chairs is growing exponentially as the workforce is increasingly sedentary.
These studies are particularly important for those who work from home or who are self-employed as there will not be an ergonomics expert evaluating the equipment used in your home office. If you are working from home, your health and well-being related to your work day are 100% up to you. Being informed about the factors which make a chair supportive and effective at dealing with sciatica can help you to work from home safely and effective for as many years as you need to.
If you are struggling with pain and a lack of focus each day at work, your chair might be the culprit.
What to Look for When Buying an Office Chair for Sciatica
When you are looking for an office chair that will help you to deal with your sciatica pain, you will want to make sure that you look for some key features. If you select a chair that does not have these features, you will likely not see any improvement in your symptoms. Sciatica is related directly to compression of the spinal column, in particular the lower back. Many office chairs have limited lower back support which leaves users open to injury on a daily basis. Thankfully, the cumulative effect of this type of inflammation can be reversed or improved if you select the right chair for your needs.
This great article discusses some of the key factors for selecting a good office chair and can add to our discussion about the factors that lead to healthy cubicle life and work place safety and happiness.
The best office chair for sciatica will have these key elements:
Good spine support with a particular focus on the lumbar spine.
Your sciatica is inflamed because of pressure on your spine and a good chair should provide enough support to make sure that your back will not be contorted or compressed. A chair that does not provide good support will make you shift and squirm all day which will put added strain on your back. This excellent article discusses a study about strain on the lumbar spine related to low-quality or poorly adjusted office chairs.
Your feet need to touch the floor.
You will put undue pressure on your back if you cannot reach the floor with your feet and trying to wheel a chair around with your tip toes is very bad for your lower back.
You can get into and out of the chair easily.
All too often people select a chair with a deep seat cushion, thinking that they will be more comfortable because the seat is so soft. The trouble with overly deep, padded seats is that they often make it hard for you to place your feet flat on the floor and they can make you have to twist and wrench your body to get up and down. Any twisting of your body during your work day can eventually lead to injury, no matter how minor it seems to you at the time.
The arm rests need to be the correct height for your build.
Arm rests that are too low or too high can make you pitch forward or lean back too far, both of which can cause you to place undue pressure on your lower back.
You will be able to sit back with your back against the lumbar support.
Often people will buy a chair with the correct support features, but in the wrong size. If you are trying to attend to sciatica pain, your best chance of being comfortable all day and healing at the same time is to buy a chair which will allow you to sit comfortably with your back flush against the chair.
The seat width and depth is correct.
The seat of the chair matters more than people realize. You need to have enough room to sit comfortably with your feet on the floor, allowing two to four inches behind your knees. If you feel that you are slipping around in the chair, you may need to select a model of chair that has side bolsters on the chair back to help you to stay firmly in the middle of the chair.
The seat has the right amount of padding.
If you are not comfortable due to the cushion on your chair, you will likely scoot around all day trying to get comfortable. Lumpy padding can also cause you to sit crooked, which can speed up the inflammation of your sciatica.
Durable, breathable upholstery is a must.
Breathable and comfortable fabric is a huge part of comfort and can be of great help if you are struggling with sciatica pain because you are more likely to sit deeply in the chair if it is cool and comfortable.
You can try it before you buy it.
You should never buy something that you can’t try out before you buy it and office chairs are at the top of this list. If you buy an office chair and it does not meet the needs it proclaimed to be attending to, you will not be able to use it and you will be right back into your old chair that was hurting your back.
It has a great warranty.
Let’s face it, things break. If you spend good money on your chair and it breaks, you will want to get it fixed. If you don’t have a good warranty on your chair, you likely won’t be able to get it repaired.
This great article lists out some of the best ways to be pain free in your office chair.
A Guide for Getting the Best Office Chair for Sciatica
While there are many chairs on the market that tout their ability to support your lower back, the reality for those suffering from sciatica is that lower back support alone is not enough. Sciatica often is not improved solely by correcting lower lumbar support issues with the chair that you have selected. Often the chair that you choose needs to have multiple factors in place to truly attend to your sciatica pain in an effective manner that will lead to you being able to work comfortably again.
Now that you better understand the features that a chair needs to offer to help you with your sciatica pain, you are ready to do some looking around at the best office chairs for sciatica pain. We have compiled a list of our favorite chairs for sciatica relief so we could share them with you.
If you still have questions about what makes a good office chair for sciatica pain, this video demonstrates how to pick the right chair for your sciatica pain.
Best Office Chairs for Sciatica
This chair is one of the most popular chairs for sciatica pain due to its many adjustment options and its ergonomic design.
This is a different version of the previous chair with some added features and an added headrest.
This elegant chair is a great choice for those who struggle to get their feet on the floor and you are often uncomfortable with regular armrests on other ergo chairs.
This stylish chair has both a breathable back and a breathable seat for added comfort. This is a good chair for users that are a bit short as it is easy to set the chair at the right height for a shorter user to be able to place their feet flat on the floor.
This beautiful chair is a very nice, basic option for those looking for a more standard type of chair who also need adjustable arm rests.
This is a great chair for those who like overstuffed chairs with lots of side bolster for added support.
This great chair is made by one of the most trusted names in mattresses and it is obvious that it was built for comfort.
This clever chair blends a lot of the necessary elements for sciatica comfort with some really innovative styling that can suit the needs of any user.
This great chair offers a variety of adjustments and has a great adjustable support system for lower lumbar support.
This great, basic chair is a great fit for shorter users and those who are not looking for lots of extra stuffing and padding.
If you are struggling with sciatica pain, your office chair can be a key factor to help you to improve and heal despite having to sit all day at work.
Picking one of the best office chairs for sciatica pain that are available will add years to your comfortable working life and can spare you from daily agony.
Your health is important and a key factor to your health is a good office chair.