Office chairs: the health risks to be aware of

Office chairs: the health risks to be aware of

A need to be more health conscious is being drummed into us on a seemingly daily basis – with diets and exercise top of the list.

We may think we know what action is needed in our own time to remain healthy but it isn’t always that easy to do the right thing in the workplace.

Our job is going to dictate how we spend the working day and that could mean standing for long periods without sitting down . . . or sitting for long periods without standing. Either way it can mean problems.

Remaining seated for any length of time isn’t good, nor is it recommended, and if the chair you’re calling home for eight or more hours a day is poor, then it’s making a bad situation worse. We feel it’s important to raise these issues and we are highlighting five problems brought on by sitting:

  • Poor circulation – most of the problems associated with sitting down for long periods can be traced back to impeded blood flow. Sitting down limits mobility and squeezes blood vessels which reduces blood supply around the body.
  • Back and neck pain – probably the two most common ailments associated with working at a desk all day. It happens when the muscles around the shoulders and spine tighten after remaining in the same position for any length of time.
  • Stiffness and numbness – prolonged periods of sitting often causes general stiffness and aches and pains in the arms, legs and joints. Numbness can happen when nerves are compressed, which commonly occur in the feet after being seated for any time, giving the feeling of your feet ‘going to sleep’.
  • Muscle fatigue and cramping – you need to use your muscles to keep them in the proper condition and maintain their strength and flexibility. Sitting at a desk all day will over a period of time weaken leg muscles and cause the hamstrings to tighten. Cramping comes on suddenly and can last from seconds to minutes, sparking muscle tenderness and general aches and pains.
  • Problems with focus and concentration – it’s not only muscle fatigue that sets in with prolonged periods in the same posture, a general feeling of weariness pervades the body, there could be headaches and it becomes harder to concentrate, affecting your productivity.

There are things that you can do to limit the problems: Get your posture right, set your desk up in a way that will best benefit your body, make sure you have the correct chair with the appropriate support and ensure you take regular breaks during the course of the day.

We may have to spend a large part of our day at work but we can make sure we get through it in the most comfortable and healthy way possible!