Sophisticated technology has caused many professionals to debate whether an ergonomic chair is necessary for a proper computer work space. Many office workers don't have the luxury to have special keyboards, mouse or chairs. So how do they adapt to their work environment?
Over the years we have spent visiting computer workstations, the most common problem we see is poor posture. Whether the worker has an ergonomic chair or not, most people do not sit properly. We notice that many work stations are not configured correctly. It can be that the keyboard is too far from the worker or the mouse is in a place where you would have to reach far for it, and the list goes on.
We see that workers, who have an ergonomic chair, don't even have it adjusted in the proper configuration to their body. So what good is an ergonomic chair if it's not ergonomically correct?
Whether one has an ergonomic chair or a "regular" office chair, the first thing to remember is proper posture. You can sit poorly in an ergonomic chair. The fact that it's ergonomic doesn't mean that it's a magic chair.
Of course, the more correct the workstation is ergonomically, the easier it is for the worker to be ergonomically correct, but one can try to make the best of the available situation.
In the above picture we see someone working at a desk in anything but an ergonomically correct chair.
The left photo shows a chair with no back and no back support. However, we do see her sitting with a good posture.
The middle photo we see her sitting on an exercise ball. Similar to what we noticed in the left photo, though there is no support for the back, she maintains good posture. We actually see some workers using exercise balls instead of chairs to encourage core engagement, which in turn, helps with proper posture. While using an exercise ball, there is active feedback from your core to keep the correct posture, thus the worker has to constantly keep her muscles in use. So, there is a degree of isometric exercise and proprioception to keep balanced.
The last example, on the right, is just to prove a point. You can even sit on a box and have good posture. It may not be very comfortable, but it demonstrates how reliant it is on the person, not the chair, to have good posture.
In all three pictures we can see that (from the side) the ear, shoulder, elbow and hips are all in alignment. Also, the elbows and hips are close to the 90 degree mark, feet on the floor, head looking straight and wrists in neutral position.
The chair should be used as an aid for proper posture. The worker should not become dependent on the chair to sit ergonomically correct, nor should they become lazy in an ergonomic chair and start sit poorly.
If you find yourself sitting poorly at your desk with your current chair, maybe go find a box!