Taking Back Your Seat

Do you ever think about how important your chair is? We spend most of our 9 to 5 workdays sitting in our chairs. I would say our chairs are very important to both our physical and mental health.

What makes a good chair? There are many different chairs in the market that claim to be the “best” for your back. The following are some of the many things to consider, when selecting a good seat:

  • Seat height: adjustable seat height so your hip and knee joints are at 90 degrees (around 16-21 inches, but it depends on your height)
  • Adjustable lumbar support to promote a neutral posture: fit to the inward curve of your lumbar spine
  • Comfort: seat should be padded and comfortable
  • Adjustable armrests: to provide comfort for your shoulder and elbow joints
  • Swivel: allows you to easily move around to reach things around your desk

Have you heard of any organizations adopting new trendy seats?

There is a trend of people using exercise balls to substitute a workplace chair. These new “trendy” seats claim to provide an “ergonomic” advantage and support proper posture. Are these claims well supported? While the exercise ball chairs do force your core and trunk muscles to work to hold your posture upright, they do not meet the suggested criteria to be classified as a “good” seat. To support our claim, studies have documented discomfort reported with prolonged use of exercise ball chairs. Additionally, these chairs lead to higher compression of the spine, increasing stiffness and prevent nutrients and blood flow in the lower back region (Roffey, et al., 2010; Kingma & Van Dieen, 2009; Dunk, 2010).

In summary, using the exercise balls as chairs for short intervals during the day can provide you with some physical benefits, but prolonged seating on the trendy exercise balls may actually have detrimental effects and lead to lower back pain. When purchasing a new seat, it is important to ensure you have done your homework!  

Want to know if your workplace set up is write for you? Email us to inquire about an assessment! 



Dunk, N.M., & Callaghan, J.P. (2010). Lumbar spine movement patterns during prolonged sitting differentiate low back pain developers from matched asymptomatic controls. Work 35(1), 3-14.

Howard, M. M., (2014). Exercise Ball Chair Exercises. Live Strong. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/23113-exercise-ball-chair-exercises/

Kingma, I., Van Dieen, J.H. (2009). Static & dynamic postural loadings during computer work in females: Sitting on an office chair versus sitting on an exercise ball. Applied Ergonomics, 40(2), 199-205.

Roffey, DM et al. (2010). Causal assessment of occupational sitting and low back pain: results of a systematic review. Spine Journal 10(3):252-261.