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Do Ergonomic Chairs Really Work? 143

cliffski wonders: "I've gone from a job as a commuting programmer working on his own code as a hobby, to a full time work-from-home one-man business. As I spend a good hour or two a day gaming as well as a full day's coding, I'm now sitting at the same desk for an awfully long time. Should I invest in one of those trendy ergonomic chairs that force you to sit with a straight back posture? Has anyone used one for a length of time, and does it really help prevent back pain? I've taken up archery, probably the best sport to encourage you to adopt good posture; are there any other tips Slashdot readers have for avoiding 'programmer slouch'?"
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Do Ergonomic Chairs Really Work?

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  • by Karl J. Smith ( 184 ) * <karl@onetruekarl.com> on Friday June 23, 2006 @05:26PM (#15592704) Homepage
    Exercise will make your back pain go away. It'll also help your wrists.

    But if you're going to be sitting in a chair 12 hours a day, an Aeron is very comfortable, and you can set it to 'no-slouch' mode.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I tried one a few years back when I was a ripe old 22. After an hour or so my knee joints started to ache. It may get better over time, but I won't use them.
    • Mod parent up! (Score:2, Informative)

      Parent's right. These "ergonomic" chairs suck. It's much better to buy a standard office chair - the ones which can rotate and have small wheels at the bottom. I use one and I've had no problems with ergonomics. If I get bored, I can move the chair a little and/or adjust the height.
    • Agreed - I used to be a ski racer, and as such my knees took a bit of pounding throughout my childhood and until I was 25 yrs old (whe I pretty much stopped competitive skiing), and these chairs are *TORTURE*. If you've ever had knee pain forget them, and I'd even go so far as to say evenin if you haven't I think you'll get knee issues if you use it for such extended periods. The knee, from a biomechanical point of view is simply not designed to support the most part of the body weight when flexed. Knees
    • by greg1104 ( 461138 ) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Friday June 23, 2006 @07:53PM (#15593498) Homepage
      Years of leg-heavy sports and weight lifting had made my knees very strong. So when I found myself having posture trouble when working on my computer too much, I switched to one of these kneeling chairs and never had any problems with knee pain.

      That lasted about a year. The position you're put in with a kneeling chair shifts a lot of the weight your back would normally bear onto your hips. One day I found that my hips hurt when I walked; it was obviously getting much worse when I was kneeling in the chair so I stopped doing that. It was too late to reverse the damage by then. It's been 18 months since, and I still haven't completely recovered use of my hips.

      If your posture is bad, and your back is bothering you, you can play with chairs all day; all you'll do is shift where you're putting the pressure at to some other part which will then buckle eventually. You need exercise that targets that specific weak area to correct this. Archery is better than nothing, I guess, but I wouldn't expect that just focusing on posture alone would give great results. You need to force your muscles to bear weight beyond their normal range to get them to grow, and my recollection of archery mechanics recalls it only really works the upper back muscles.

      Since my case was bad by the time I had the resources to address it, the only thing I found that worked was combining ideas from my doctor, a physical therapist, and a personal trainer until I had a back workout routine that really made me feel where the back muscles that bear weight were at. Once you achive that, you can practice flexing them and train them properly to support more of your weight. I can now sit up perfectly straight just by tightening that part of my back and all sorts of problems have gone away. I find myself arching my back over the top of crappy chairs when I have to sit in them, not even using the back of the chair if it's not the right shape.

      Check out the fun list of exercises at http://www.thetrainingstationinc.com/back-exercise s.html [thetrainin...ioninc.com]

      It's the lower-back section that mirrors what I ended up doing. My doctor recommended against Hyper-Extensions as being too stressful, and my hip issues made Deadlifts difficult. The Lower Back Machine exercise has worked wonders for me (in my gym as the Icarian "Low Back Extension" machine), and I'm hoping to introduce the Good Morning exercise in the near future.

      Also, both my doctor and therapist gave me a little green cartoon booklet of back exercises to do at home with ones own body weight; will reply to myself in this thread when I find it again with details.
    • Yeah, I agree. When you first sit in one it is really comfortable, you're butt and your back feel great, but after about a half hour you can feel it cutting off the circulation to your knees. I recommend putting one in a meeting room and requiring presenters to sit in it. It will keep meeting short.
  • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @05:26PM (#15592710) Homepage Journal
    As a developer and computer junkie, I have to say the best type of chair is a plain normal office chair, it forces me to not become comfortable enough to slob about.

    The biggest problem is sitting in the same place all day, it does your back, arms, eyes and neck no good.

    I find my best work comes whilst I am away from my desk, having a smoke, laying on my bed, pacing around, playing with the kids or just watchin tv.

    Get your eyes away from your screen and think about the code you are about to write.
    Take a pad and pencil and make sparse notes, formulate solutions then do your code in short bursts when you return so you don't strain yourself.

    I would also recommend swimming over archery since archery seems more like a strength persuit rather than excersize.
    • In other words, a healthy nicotine addiction can help you avoid RSI. :-)

      Seriously. Even if you don't get up to puff, just moving your limbs around once in a while is enough to prevent most RSI injury. My chiropractor told me the same thing ten years ago, though he pointed out there are probably better ways to keep yourself from sitting immobile all day.

      No, I didn't bother asking any oncologists about my chiropractor's advice. And I probably wouldn't bring it up in a cancer ward. But perhaps NORML could help
    • Archery is a great excercise for strengthening the back, and in turn gets rid of a lot of back pain.

      Although I also think it's a great idea to hit the pool after being on the range for a while. =-)
  • by JayDoggy ( 200317 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @05:28PM (#15592717) Homepage
    I've had a Herman Miller Aeron at work for 4+ years. I really like it, how the meshy material breathes when I've been sitting in it for far too long, and boy it sure looks cool. But I'm not sure that it's made much of a difference in my posture. I've adjusted all the controls, even watched the "Proper Posture" video they have on their website, but I still do horrible things like sit cross-legged in it, slouch, etc. I think it comes down to your willingness to commit to a proper egonomic regimen. I'm lazy in that way.
    • by Pink Tinkletini ( 978889 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @05:39PM (#15592793) Homepage
      I still do horrible things like sit cross-legged in it, slouch, etc.
      About ten years ago, my chiropractor mentioned that the best way to avoid RSI, back pain, and other workplace injuries in the cube is simply to make sure to change your position a lot. This is good news if you're naturally antsy, but apparently a lot of people just sit in the same position in front of their computers all day long, and that's what gets you in the end.

      This is the theory behind those programs to remind you to take short breaks every hour. It's also a good excuse to ask your employer for a laptop computer so you can amble over to the couch, the coffeeshop, the park, or wherever you feel like working. Stay moving, stay alive.

      It sounds plausible, and I've heard the same thing from at least two other chiropractors I've met. (I've never developed a cubicle injury, at least not yet--I was seeing a chiropractor for physical therapy, long story.)
    • Ditto. Especially the cross legged thing.
    • I've had an Aeron-style knock off chair (I'm too cheap to shell out for the real thing) for almost two years.

      I do agree with you that it comes down to the user's "willingness to commit to a proper [ergonomic] regimen," but I've found that with my "ergonomic" chair, it's much more comfortable to sit upright and position my arms correctly on the arm rests and my feet correctly on the floor. With my previous vanilla office chair, it was uncomfortable -- and some days painful -- to sit in an "ergonomically co

    • by daviddennis ( 10926 ) <david@amazing.com> on Friday June 23, 2006 @07:34PM (#15593386) Homepage
      A few years ago I worked for a company that had to watch every penny. So of course they didn't want to buy me any kind of fancy chair. In fact, despite paying me big bucks, they gave me a chair that even the telemarketing staff had rejected. The back cushion was detached from its cardboard backing and flopped all over the place.

      Well, after a year or so of that, I got severe pain in my hands from the poor typing position that ensued from such a crummy chair. I went to a doctor and he prescribed a truly bizarre wrist splint and an ergonomic chair.

      My panicked boss, fearing potential lawsuits in the air, bought me an Aeron and a wrist rest for my keyboard. I tried the wrist splint but it was so weird feeling to use that I didn't use it more than a day or so.

      Haven't had any wrist problems since, so having an Aeron or a similarly adjustable chair definitely helps a lot. I had bought an Aeron for home use before getting the one at my work. I now work at home so I'm either using the Aeron or relaxing outdoors with lawn chairs. For some reason relaxing outdoors, even with non-optimal chairs, seems to work wonders for my attitude. Curious but true.

      I don't know about the kneeling chair. I tried one once but found it so uncomfortable and strange it wasn't of interest.

      Hope that helps.

      D

  • by Otter ( 3800 )
    Those things (I believe Balans invented them) were trendy back in 1990-something, but never really caught on. I assume there's a reason for that, although the reason could be that they don't work or just that you look like a dork sitting that way.
    • Is he talking about those kneeling charis or just an Aeron chair?

      Kneeling chairs suck. And also they make you look gay because you look like you are about to give a blowjob.

      Herman Millar Aeron chairs are very nice. Are they worth the "extra" money? Well, I don't know. They aren't really that much more than a decent office chair you'd get anywhere else. And they are very nice.
      • Is he talking about those kneeling charis or just an Aeron chair?

        He linked to a page of Balans knockoffs, so I assumed that's what he meant by "ergonomic".

    • Try 1985. Those things are at least two decades out from being "trendy".
      • Hmmm. If they've been out of fashion since the '80s, maybe they're back in a retro way, like Motley Crue and Poison going on tour last year? C.C., pick up that guitar and talk to me!
  • You Should (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mikkeles ( 698461 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @05:29PM (#15592722)
    'Should I invest in one of those trendy ergonomic chairs that force you to sit with a straight back posture?'

    It would be better for you to get up once an hour or so and take a stroll; smell the flowers.

  • Sure... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ossifer ( 703813 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @05:32PM (#15592752)
    ... if you're the average male--not too tall, short, fat, thin, etc.; and you always sit in them exactly as they designed you to sit in them--no slouching, sitting sideways, on the "edge of your seat", with your feet up, etc....

    My advice? Go to one of those office supply places and sit in every chair. Buy the one you feel is most comfortable, and learn how to make all the possible adjustments. Next, get off your ass every now and then--stretch your legs, go have a conversation (with yourself) at the water cooler (kitchen sink), etc....
  • Steelcase Leap (Score:4, Informative)

    by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @05:33PM (#15592755) Homepage Journal
    I have a Steelcase Leap. It's pretty much your classic office chair, except it has good lumbar support, and is designed to allow you to move around and adopt slightly different postures.

    I found that with many ergonomic chairs, it didn't matter how perfect the back shape was--sitting in any kind of fixed position for long enough would give me back ache. With the Leap, the back is designed to flex.
    • I have a Leap chair which I like a lot. But in general I've found that you don't need to spend that much to get a good chair - Steelcase chairs like the Critereon are very good as well and can be found at a much better price.

      While I don't think you need to pay big money for a chair, you do need a decent chair. Those $50 Staples chairs are murder for me.

      And yes, exercise helps a lot. Build up your abs with crunches and you will help support your spine.

    • I'll second the steelcase. Worth _every_ penny.
    • I haven't figured out how to get my employer to get me a Leap, but if I could, I'd gladly trade my Aeron in for one. It just seems much more soldily built.

      The Aeron is nice because it's made out of mesh, but it's a fairly cheap plastic chair in other respects, IMO. I feel like if I'm really rough on it, it'll break. Not like a $30 piece-of-crap from Staples perhaps, but it doesn't feel like the sort of thing that's going to last a few decades either.

      Contrast that to the Steelcase chair I have in my home off
  • I have one and use it some, but if I have to take one chair, it will be a regular one. If two, it would be the regular chair and a large exercise ball like this one [thera-band.com]. (Their sizing chart is for excersizing rather than sitting, so I recommend getting one size up if you'll use it as a chair.) The on-your-knees-slave chair is nice to have for variety's sake, though.
    • After a motor-vehicle collision in the fall left me with persistent back pain/tightness, I ditched my computer chair and replaced it with an exercise ball (Thera-Ball) like you described. The ball makes a better chair than any chair I've used - it cured the pain, increased the strength and, thanks to a very gentle slope in the floor, always rolls itself under the desk when I'm done.
  • Short form: No. (Score:3, Informative)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday June 23, 2006 @05:37PM (#15592774) Homepage Journal

    Long form: I've used about five or six different brands/models of that type of posture chair and ALL of them hurt my knees and shins and fuck up my back, although they seem to be good for my shoulders. I'm not willing to trade my knees, shins, and back for my shoulders, which are the only part of my body that hurts after sitting in normal chairs.

    On a more personal, TMI-kind of note, I end up crushing the boys when trying to sit in them while wearing pants. Maybe my balls just hang low (swing to and fro, tie them in a knot etc) but I don't consider a chair that I can only sit in while pantsless to be very useful.

  • Kneeling chairs work (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Merlynnus ( 209292 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @05:37PM (#15592778)
    I've been using a kneeling chair since 2001. What forced me to switch over was a slipped disk that became sciatica -- basically a pinched nerve that incapacitated me for 6 weeks. At any rate, after I recovered enough to go back to the office, I got kneeling chairs for the office and for my computer desk at home. Right now, I'm writing this while sitting in a kneeling chair. Some observations:

    1. They do work. My posture is much better. I had a relapse a year later, but since then, it's been smooth sailing.
    2. They take some getting used to. I have reasonably "bad" knees, but the kneeling chair doesn't really put pressure on your knees if it's adjusted properly. The pressure is on your shins instead. However, it's likely that for the first few days or weeks, you'll find your legs cramping up a bit. The key is to stick to it and get your muscles to learn to like the new position.
    3. There is significant difference between chairs. My first chair was this one: http://www.chairlines.com/qs/product/-1/2115/11654 6/0/0 [chairlines.com]. It was good, but eventually the seat broke off ... all the small movements while sitting caused a fatigue fracture where the seat was supported. Now, I'm using this one: http://www.chairlines.com/qs/product/-1/2115/11654 5/0/0 [chairlines.com] and it's much better ... more comfortable, and sturdier, I think.
    4. They're not for everyone.
    5. Make sure it is adjustable. At least in height, but ideally in the angle that your legs form. One size does not fit all. Try it out at the store first, but ideally at your desk so that you can see if everything fits ... or not.
    6. They make excellent conversation starters.
    7. They're less hippy than those yoga balls.

    A>
  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @05:38PM (#15592784) Homepage Journal
    The whole purpose of ergonomic chairs is to remove the fat wad of cash from your wallet, and make you spend lots of money so you can lose weight due to your nervousness at being able to afford them in the first place.

    I get mine at the university surplus for $5 or $10 each, instead of the $1000 the original buyer paid. I think our office was equipped for about $100 all told.

    That said, I find if you don't get up and stretch about once every hour or so, you'll probably end up with back problems. And if you'd just take the stairs instead of sit all day, you'd have far fewer problems in the first place, since humans are designed to walk about 30 to 45 minutes a day.
    • Actually, you may have missed a good point. Don't keep a wallet in your back pocket when sitting for any length of time. I stopped carrying a wallet years ago and it has made a big difference. My only back or leg pain now comes from the "to do" list created by my wife...you want how many thousands of pounds of gravel from the hardware store?
    • aren't humans designed to walk 30-45 minutes per hour not per day?
      • No. Most of the time when hunting you wait. Most of the time while gathering, you're squatting.

        Most medical genetics seems to indicate 30-45 minutes of moderate exercise (walking/gardening) a day, five out of seven days, is what you need. You can do more, but the health benefits drop off after that.

        We're definitely not designed to sit in chairs and type on keyboards.
    • since humans are designed to walk about 30 to 45 minutes a day.

      I don't want to call bullshit, but this kind of statement always sets off some bells in my mind. You wouldn't happen to have a cite, would you?
  • Not for me. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @05:38PM (#15592785)
    I tried a kneeler, and found it hard on my knees and knee joints. Even tried it with a pillow on the lower part... Now it's a rolling junk holder.

    Might work better for skinny people; I wouldn't know.
  • Move around (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ThinkingInBinary ( 899485 ) <thinkinginbinaryNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday June 23, 2006 @05:42PM (#15592806) Homepage

    Others have said it, I'll say it again...

    It's much easier and cheaper to just get up and move around than it is to get a really expensive chair. I assume you have a laptop, so move around with it. Sit at the desk for a while, sit on the couch, sit on a bed, go outside and sit on the front steps (if it's not raining), etc.... Your day will be less monotonous if you're not staring at the same desk and wall the whole time, too.

  • Cue the anecdotes!

    I have no idea if good chairs help generate good posture (I've never gotten an employer to buy me one)... but I do know that a bad chair certainly aids poor posture.

    If you can get someone to buy one for you, do it and let us know how it goes. If nothing else, you'll have lots of levers and knobs to adjust on the chair.
  • Long Answer: It's impossible to sit on an ergonomic chair. Can't be done.
  • Yes, a good chair is a big help. I've been programming for longer than I care to admit and started having back trouble many years ago. I've tried all sorts of chairs (kneely rockers, straight-backed dinning room chairs, an office chair that the salesman claimed was used by air traffic controllers - that one was pretty good, actually). My feeling after all this experience is that a good chair makes a huge difference. It's also important to get up frequently and move around. Walking and stretching exerci
  • Can you sit on it? Then yes.
  • by namekuseijin ( 604504 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @05:51PM (#15592858)
    try Ballmer
    • I didn't know Ballmer came out with a new line of chairs. I bet the padding is really good to stand up against excessive throwing against the wall and other hard surfaces.
  • Those types of ergonomic chairs are great for proper back posture. Or spines aren't shaped quite right for the types of chairs we typically sit on. The hips need to be rolled forward a bit. This is why that type of chair has the need pads, to get the hips to rotate forward to put the arch in the spine.

    But what is your problem? Maybe you have a tough spine but you're hunching forward and rolling your shoulders forward? This is also bad posture and can lead to other problems.

    As other people have noted, y
  • I used to think back pain is something others get, inspite of getting a minor problem long time back(school). About a few year ago, I think it was 2002, I suffered a really bad fall. Due to that I started getting sever back pain. At that time I understood what exactly is lumbar support, and in my quest for the perfect seating postures as well as a comfortable driving position I found out the following things

    1. Good posture seat is a misnomer. When a guy tells you, this 500$ chair is made to cure back pain
  • i must say that if it were not for my ergonimic chair, i would be a debilitated programmer. probably making my living building brick walls, as the lifting & carrying of bricks and mortar are far more ergonimic activities in my experience.

    BUT - the chair MUST FIT YOUR OWN BACK, not some average ideal back. you must try them all out before you buy one. if you get one that doesn't do it for your unique body, then it's not really an ergonomic chair.

    also find out what's important for you. for me, i mus

  • I read this tip somewhere on the net and tried it out. I liked it, but do yourself a favor and get an anti-burst model as it's just a few bucks more than a burstable model. I had the latter type and when my cat decided to jump up on my lap I ended up flat on my ass with a twisted knee. Another thing about it is that if anyone else would be using it, the ball would have to be the proper size for them too (they come in about three sizes, according to your height).

    I did a quick search on the net for info to

  • by gvc ( 167165 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @06:09PM (#15592966)
    Here's a response I wrote [slashdot.org] to a related article on ergonomic keyboards. The parent is correct, exercise is the best known intervention.
  • Pilates (Score:4, Informative)

    by crmartin ( 98227 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @06:15PM (#15593000)
    Get some private Pilates lessons. (If you need to find an instructor, there are good resources at The Pilates Method Alliance [pilatesmet...liance.org].)

    It helped my back pain when nothing else did, post a car accident.

    Pilates Studios are also usually 10-1 female, and they're often young attractive dancer types, so it's fun for that reason as well.
  • Get an ergonomic chair. Get a knee chair if that's your type. Don't get an american knee chair though. Get one of these: http://www.designsforcomfort.com/ [designsforcomfort.com] The Stokke Duo and the Stokke Wing are both very good. I tried them myself. The Duo has a Boss Chair option that lets you lean back for a change once in a while. Stokke == high end scandinavian quality. Not cheap, but worth it imho.

    Yet the best ergonomic chair I know of is a german stool which I actually would get for myself. In my experience the Swopper [swopper.com]
    • I've had a Stokke Variable Balans since 2001 and I'll never go back to an ordinary office chair. With the Stokke it's nigh impossible to sit in a wrong (i.e. hunched) way.

      The Variable Balans (like most Stokkes) has the same principle as the crappy kneeling chairs, but the base is 'rocking'. It lets your body find its own balance, instead of a one-size-fits-all preset. This also goes with Stokke's philosophy that the human body is built for moving around, rather than for sitting completely still with 90

  • Every body needs a little different support to account for height, weight distribution and posture. Those trendy chairs can indeed help significantly if you get the right one ( the Aeron comes in three sizes, and if you get the wrong size it will be worse than nothing ), I know people who hate the Aeron, I know people who love it - the key is to get a good chair that you have tried and know you can work comfortably in. Someone I work with had excruciating back pain after a week in a chair, that went aw
  • Try what I did... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Vo0k ( 760020 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @06:21PM (#15593039) Journal
    Ultra-comfortable, ultra-ergonomic, designed for sitting in one position for many hours, extremely durable, high quality and... ultra-cheap!

    Visit a car scrapyard and buy the best car seat you can find. Right now typing this from a luxury model BMW driver's seat. Cost: $17. If this one dies (not likely!), I'm gonna get another. Never more overpaying for computer desk chairs in furniture shops!

    Minus: Not rotating. Plus/minus - heavy, not really movable (but can be easily adjusted forward/back, sliding on rails). And requires some (little) work to make a good basis/attachment.
    • ...really, that is a great idea, I am going to look into it. Currently I have a too-large chair that I got just because it would crank up high enough to use on my home made desk like experience-but it's built for serious large 'boss class' humans. It's just too big. Maybe I can adapt a normal car seat to the frame of this thing.

      The other thing I was thinking of is an old barber chair! Those things are really comfy, too, and are really adjustable.
    • If you go into the garden shop at a home depot you'll find bases for pots that are on casters; just like a traditional desk chair. If I remember correctly, they're less than $20. I'm sure you can figure out a way to bolt such a base onto your desk chair.
    • That's a cool idea! Do you have pictures online of your personal solution to keeping your car-chair in place? Do you have bare rails on the floor, or did you make a rocking base, or ...?

      One problem though (IMO) is that car seats tend toward being warm (hot!); though I didn't really want leather car seats, that's what I ended up finding as part of the best-overall deal when I bought my current car (a 1998 Subaru), and the leather really is nicer on the body than the fabric-covered seats I'd always previously
      • Re:Try what I did... (Score:3, Informative)

        by Vo0k ( 760020 )
        I used two thick blocks of woods, about 15x15cm, one for each rail, not too pretty but very strong and quite cheap (plus that's what I had available when my old chair finally died and I needed a replacement urgently). Good screws for attaching the rails, the blocks reaching a bit behind the chair to allow for safe leaning far back. Later needed to add a bar between them, because one rail would bend if I sit too heavily sideways. I guess once I move my ass to paint them black they will look quite okay.
  • Data Point (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bunions ( 970377 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @06:21PM (#15593040)
    I worked in an Aeron chair 8-10 hours a day for 8 years. No back pain. I changed jobs and now have a generic office chair. Back pain. Draw your own conclusions.
  • Those chairs rock (Score:4, Interesting)

    by austad ( 22163 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @06:25PM (#15593066) Homepage
    Those chairs are great. I sat in a Herman Miller Aeron for about 3 years, and it really kept me from hurting compared to the older chairs I sat in. I picked up an old (1975) Herman Miller Ergon for home, and it's nearly as comfortable. The cool thing about the HM stuff, is there is a lifetime warranty on it. I had a wheel stop working, and then sent out a truck and fixed it for free, and that chair is 30 years old.

    But, do you know your back pain is coming from your chair? It certainly might have something to do with it, however, I read an article that said 60% of americans are chronically dehydrated and that can cause back pain. I thought about it, and I really didn't drink that much water. I started carrying a water bottle with me everywhere, and my back rarely hurts anymore.
    • Take a deeper look into the literature. the "chronic dehydration epidemic" is little more than a fad that has mutated into an alternate health meme. Take a look at Snopes article [snopes.com] for some good medical references.

      Drinking a bit more water certainly won't hurt you, but chronic dehydration isn't a problem in the western world, and wouldn't lead to back problems at any rate.
  • Steve Balmer says yes.
  • by Doctor Memory ( 6336 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @06:34PM (#15593115)
    When I first started working from home, I had a generic office chair. After a couple of weeks, I couldn't stand to stay in it for more than a half-hour or so. So I went to the local "ergonomic chair" dealer and got their top-of-the-line chair for waaaay much money. Took it back within a week, because it kind of locked me in one position and wouldn't let me shift around much. Then I got an Aeron chair (cheap at the height of the dot-bomb meltdown), and it's been great. I'd get another if anything happened to mine, and they're not terribly expensive anymore (I think they were >$1000 around 2000, they're like $600 now).
  • by Fallen Kell ( 165468 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @06:36PM (#15593121)
    I bought it about 1 1/2 years ago now. Personally it is the best computer/desk chair I have ever had. It is extremely comfortable and the use of the fabric stuff makes it breath very well. Depending on which model you get you can have different types of back/lumbar support. I picked up a fully adjustable model with lumbar support, a leather arms (I didn't pay for the crome model though, look great but was not worth it since it was in my upstairs bedroom). You still need to set it up properly for good back/ergonomic support and use it that way. But I really just set it up for comfort :)
  • The chair I've lusted for over the past decade-plus is one like the Relax-the-Back "Perfect Chair" (http://www.livingincomfort.com/ec11130.html for instance), but they start at over $1000 dollars. Cheap compared to doctor bills, I guess, but $1000 for a chair is unlikely for my near-future budget :)

    However, a few days ago I picked up from the local Dick's Sporting Goods a similarly reclining chair (mesh, not leather) which folds, weighs probably about 15 pounds, and only cost $60. Since I've had it only a f
  • by toybuilder ( 161045 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @06:51PM (#15593196)
    I worked at an Internet startup that spent almost zero on office furniture. Our desks were doors mounted on top of filing cabinets. But everyone got Aeron chairs -- and they had a selection of chair sizes to suit everyone.

    I have to say that the Aeron made it possible to work long hours -- even with 14 hour days, I felt fine. That wasn't the case with other office chairs, before or since. While it was popular to scoff at the Aeron chairs during the dot-com-crash days, I actually think those chairs were actually sensible spending by the companies.

    Cheap sub-$100 chairs are crap. If you're going to buy ONE chair for yourself, you're better off going to a good retail dealer and have them educate you on the product, and choose/adjust the seat that fit you. And, if they're a true high-quality retailer, they should be willing to take the seat back even after you've taken it home for a couple weeks. If you're going to spend money on making yourself productive, be generous to yourself.
    • Amen to that. I had back surgery for a bone tumor 12 years ago when I was 20, and my back has been kinda fragile ever since (due to me missing part of one vertebra in my lumbar spine...)

      I got a neeler like the submitter linked to immediately, and it was very good - I just couldn't sit in a normal chair for several years. You have to be dilligent sitting in a neeler, sometimes I catch myself slouching and leaning on my desk.

      Also they tend to make your shins/knees sore after sitting in them for a long period
  • I occasionally have back problems. Sitting in my $129 generic office chair from Office Depot I couldn't sit for more than 10 minutes without having to get up (painfully), take a break and lie down. Go to work and sit in my $600 Aeron and I can go a full day (with intermittent walking breaks) without significant discomfort. AERON ROCKS! I had a kneeling chair when I was 18, it worked fine, never had any complaints.
  • Developing good posture will alleviate your need for an ergonomic chair like this. In my experience, these chairs tend to be uncomfortable after an hour or two. Take frequent breaks and exercise, in addition to developing good posture, and you'll not find yourself quite so uncomfortable.

    That said, zafu and zabuton (cushions traditionally used in meditation and for sitting in general) are very good for helping to develop good posture; the loft and angle of the cushions forces the spine into alignment, which
    • "Developing good posture will alleviate your need for an ergonomic chair like this."

      Incorrect.

      Developing good posture may alleviate YOUR need for an ergonomic chair like this. Please don't presume to know what my back problems are caused by, and how they can be fixed.
  • aeron and a ball. (Score:3, Informative)

    by nblender ( 741424 ) on Friday June 23, 2006 @08:11PM (#15593601)
    I've sat on an Aeron for about 5 years all day. Do I think it cures cancer? No. It's a good quality, solid, comfortable chair. You never stick to the chair, and it's adjustable in all kinds of ways. I'm also prone to not exercising enough and lifting heavy things poorly. So occasionally, my back hurts. I also have one of those exercise balls http://www.fitter1.com/classic-ball.html [fitter1.com]. Whenever my back gets a little 'weak', I sit on my ball for a week. The first day on the ball after a long time, I go home that night and my back is tired, but not sore. The next day it's better. After a few days, I'm back to my regular self. The ball is cheap, forces good posture, and is convenient. But you can't lean back and put your feet on your desk to have a good 'think'. The other thing that I think is important about chairs is that the back tilts at a greater rate than the seat, as opposed to a seat that doesn't tilt at all (slide off the bottom) or a seat that tilts with the back (pinch the bottom of your thighs). That's why I like the Aeron.

    I promise you this. You can't go to a chair store and try each one out. You don't know if you like a chair until you've spent a week sitting on it all day long.

  • Get specialist help (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    To answer the question: "Do Ergonomic Chairs Really Work?" - hmmmm, yes, but only as one component of a broader approach to your ergonomic situation. They are not a fix-all.

    I have recently become more aware of 'gradual onset' RSI in my right forearm, regardless of the fact that I've been using ergonomic keyboards for over a decade (which of course points to a bad mouse - 5 mins of normal mousing = sharp pains, 3m ergonomic mouse = 8 hours straight no problems.) Now that I am taking regular breaks, getti

  • Rather than looking for something that simply holds the body in a better position,
    why not get something that encourages the body to DO SOMETHING positive, even while
    working, eg, at a computer terminal...

    A chair that lets one place the feet on some bicycle pedals (or the like),
    coupled to an auto alternator... enabling the user to generate electricity
    while the mind & hands are doing other work.

    Such chairs may exist [eg, one costing over Au $10,000, last time we checked]
    has the peddles... apparently combin
  • No. There is no chair in the world that will undo the damage you do to your body by sitting in front of a computer 12-14 hours a day. Lack of movement hurts your body. Archery is cool, but it's not exercise. Exercise is excellent, but the best kinds of exercise you can do as a computer geek are the energy building kind (yoga, tai qi, etc) instead of the energy spending kind (running, swimming, etc). Buy a soft chair with arm rests and try to be aware of your body. Keep your shoulder muscles as relaxed as
  • from 3 start-ups is that different people approach tasks differently. The truly resourceful hack-saw the legs off desks to lower their desktops where they want them for use with their fav chair. The "fav chair" runs the gamut from HermanMiller to Euro* imports. The HM dudes advocate staying power on-task, the Euro* crowd likes six levers and a chair with 6 degrees of freedom to change their posture throughout the day. The H1B fellas prefer headrests the farther north on the continent they come.

    Out of bo
  • Why do you want to sit down? Yeah, I get tired, too. The way my "home station" is set up, I can stand, or lean a little bit on a high chair, see the screen, type, mouse, no prob. I figure, after a long session, if I'm too tired to stand and compute, well, maybe I'm too tired to compute. Lose all the chairs, stand around, type, and keep moving. Chair shmair.
  • There's been quite a lot of good advice posted here, as well (of course) as some crap. Allow me to sum up the good bits, keeping in mind that my wife has professional training in ergonomics, and I'm a SA who often spends ten hours a day in front of a computer out of necessity.

    1) Every person is different. Therefore every solution will be different. This cannot be emphasised strongly enough! What works for some people won't work for others. A perfect chair that doesn't fit you won't help; a perfect chair tha
  • You know that your culture has become what Douglas Adams would, or Terry Pratchett will, have considered fodder when you chair comes supplied with a manual.

              mark
  • A standard "old" drafting table has stood the test of time with a drafting chair with the various adjustments.

    It allows sit on the chair mode, one leg on the floor or two, or stand up, and thus gives a lot of different positions to use during a day.

    As others have noted, I found I needed to specifically keep my excersize up and chose both moderate speed walking and rowing to keep everything else greased up. Just don't overdo the rowing effort, as you can easily put too much load on your back, without realiz
  • A comfortable chair is only a factor in the prevention of work-related back pain. The majority of back pain is caused by leg and arm position and posture. For example let me layout my setups. I have one of the worst chair/desk setups at work. My desk is one of those desk with server space below, and multiple shelves for monitors and such. It does not have a keyboard drawer either. The platform for my laptop or a keyboard is 4-5 inches higher than normal. I have two choices of chairs. I have 2 chairs
  • by tokki ( 604363 )
    I love my Aeron chair. They're expensive, but you can usually get good deals on ebay and other online places. They really are worth the money.

    Think about it, you spend hours every day sitting in a chair, might as well make it a pimped out one. It's comfy and it breaths, and because it's a mesh instead of cloth, it doesn't "remember your farts" or stain like cloth chairs.
  • 1. I tried a kneeling chair, but it really kills the skin on my knees after a while. The fabric on the kneepad, as well as whatever you're wearing on your legs, will start to impress on your knees. Also, your pant legs will probably crease.

    2. I suspect that desk height is the major problem, and an adjustable chair may not help. If you desk is the wrong height, you may be able to adjust your chair so your arms are in the right position, but your legs won't be.

    3. Along with desk height, desk thickness is a pr
  • For almost five years, I've been using a Fitness Ball as my office chair. With this and the help of my chiro., I've gone from being almost unable to get out of bed to a normal lifestyle again.

    The main benefits are that you are continually moving and flexing your abdominal muscles which helps maintain the lower back alignment. The other benefit for those who change locations regularly like myself (a contractor) is that it simply deflates and goes into your backpack at the end of one job and can be quickly
  • I am in the same boat as you. I work from home developing and maintaining a website for a medium-sized company. Running a website means you work from the moment you wake to the time you go to bed. I also play PC games when not working.

    I have an Aeron chair and can safely say I never feel uncomfortable. As others have said, I also exercise and maintain a decent weight (ok, so I could lose 20lbs.).

    In comparison, when I visit the home office and sit in "generic" chairs in conference rooms, I get uncomforta
  • I have tried various chairs, and I have found that using a properly sized exercise ball is the best at keeping you straight and back-pain free. Since you're the one having to sit up (no back) you end up using your abdominal muscles (as well as your back muscles) a bit through out the day (I believe they call it your "core"). And the best part: You can bounce around! I'm not kidding! It's fun at work!

Heisengberg might have been here.

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