Have you ever noticed that halfway through the workday, your back starts aching? Does your tailbone hurt, and do your shoulders seem tensed up all the time? If this sounds familiar, your desk chair may be causing problems in your posture while in the sitting position.
Getting a new desk chair may not always be an option, but there are ways to hack uncomfortable chairs to be more comfortable. From making height adjustments to getting footrests and lumbar support, you can make sure your workday is as comfortable and ergonomic as possible. Read on to discover how to hack your office chair to get rid of aches and pain.
Move to the Edge of Your Seat
It may sound odd, but one of the best ways to make your office chair more comfortable is to sit on the edge of it. When you sit in chairs, your hips tilt backward. This causes your back to curve into a C shape, which can place a lot of strain on your lumbar region.
Sitting on the edge of your seat pulls your hips forward into a position closer to where they are when you’re standing. Your hips will tilt forward more, which helps to maintain the curve in your low back. This also makes it easier to sit upright, rather than slouching over, since you aren’t relying on your chair back to support you.
Get a Wedge
Sitting on the edge of your seat can help to restore your hips to a healthier position, but it’s not a perfect solution. Many office chairs have a dip right behind the edge that makes it easier to slide back into the chair. This can pull your hips backward and push your back into that C shape we discussed.
Getting a wedge pillow can help you to stay in that proper posture. It can also help to raise your hips a little above your legs, which provides a healthier, more natural angle. Place the pillow with the higher end towards the back of your chair and sit on your perch on the edge of the chair.
Get Some Back Support
If you are sitting back in your chair, you need some back support to keep your back from curving into that unhealthy C shape. Lumbar support pillows can help to pull your back into a healthier position and help you sit up straighter. They can also support the muscles in your lumbar region to help them recover from previous strain and injury.
A memory foam lumbar pillow is ideal because of the way the material molds to your body. As it absorbs your body heat, memory foam will soften and give way under higher pressure points. This helps to remove pressure from your spine while supporting the soft tissues in your lower back.
Adjust the Height
Adjusting the height of your uncomfortable chair is one of the quickest ways to make it more comfortable for your workday. In general, your chair needs to be higher than you might think. You want to make sure that it’s high enough that you aren’t reaching up to get to your keyboard.
Position the height of your chair so that, when your hands are resting on your keyboard, your forearms are parallel to your thighs. Your shoulders should be down in a relaxed position. And your elbows should rest on the arms of your chair without pressing into them.
Adjust Your Armrests
During the height adjustment process, you may also need to adjust the arms of your desk chair. If you’re a larger person, your arms may hang with your elbows never touching the armrests. If you’re shorter, your shoulders may wind up next to your ears if you put your elbows on the armrests.
If your chair has adjustable armrests, adjust them to the appropriate height for you. Remember, your elbows should rest comfortably on the armrests. Too much or too little space can cause pain in your shoulders, neck, and upper back.
Pad the Armrests
Even if your arms sit comfortably on your armrests, you may still find your elbows aching at the end of a long day. If armrests are not cushioned enough, you could wind up with your bones sitting directly on metal, especially if you have an older chair. Over time, this could lead to pain and even health problems, especially if you have osteoporosis.
Get a pad for your armrests that will provide you with a little extra cushioning. Memory foam is the best material for this, as it will conform to the shape of your elbow without collapsing underneath it. Depending on your height, you may want to look for a thicker or thinner armrest pad to allow for proper arm positioning.
Take the Arms Off
In some cases, you may not be able to get the armrests into a position that works well with your body. This could be because the armrests are not adjustable or because they simply do not fit you well. If this is the case, you can remove your armrests.
If you take your armrests off, it’s going to become more imperative than ever that your desk is at the right height. In a moment, we’ll discuss getting a proper elbow angle, but you also need to make sure you’re sitting close enough to your desk. This will provide your arms with the support they need while not limiting you to the constraints of chair armrests.
Check Your Elbow Angle
When you’re adjusting both your chair height and your armrests, you always need to check back in with the angle of your elbows. This is what will tell you if your chair and armrest are at the correct height, as well as whether you’re properly positioned at your desk.
Your elbows should be at a ninety-degree angle by your sides when you’re positioned properly. Your shoulders should be down and relaxed, and you shouldn’t be reaching forward all the time. Your forearms should extend straight forward without reaching up or down to rest on your desk.
Get a Footrest
If you’re more petite, you may struggle with getting your feet to touch the floor in your office chair. Getting your desk chair into a proper ergonomic position for your elbows and shoulders can leave your feet dangling off the floor. This places more strain on your knees and can cause more pain.
Get a footrest to support your feet at the right height when you’re sitting in your chair. This can be something as simple as a stack of books or a leftover box—anything to get your feet sitting flat on a surface. But a proper footrest will provide you with the most comfort and best ergonomic position while you work.
Focus on the Angle of Your Legs
Your legs should also be in a specific position when you’re seated properly at your desk. Not only will this help to remove strain from your knees, but it will help to keep your hips in their proper position. This can keep your low back curved at the right angle and help prevent slumping or slouching.
If you’re sitting at the edge of your seat, your hips should be raised a little above your legs. Both your hips and your knees should be at a roughly 120-degree angle, give or take a little. If you’re sitting at the back of your chair, keep your hips, knees, and angles all at 90-degree angles.
Check the Tilt
One of the often-overlooked settings on office chairs is their tilt. Getting this angle right is tricky; too much tilt and you’ll shove your upper back forward. Too little and your hips will slide back, pinning you in a folded position.
If you are sitting at the edge of your chair, try tilting your chair forward just slightly. Combined with the right height, this can give you the slightly lifted angle you’re looking for. If you sit at the back of your chair, tilt it backward a couple of degrees to remove pressure from your spine.
Add a Seat Cushion
Although most office chairs are padded, most of them have mediocre, generic padding. This doesn’t support your back the way it should, and over time, it can lead to spinal compression. It can also create pressure points in your hips, which can lead to pain and even stress fractures if you have osteoporosis.
Adding a memory foam seat cushion to your office chair can help to both improve your posture and redistribute your weight more evenly. The memory foam will take the pressure off your spine and hips and keep your hips at a healthier angle. Just make sure to double-check your height adjustments after you get a seat cushion since it will give you an extra few inches in height.
It may sound odd to think that putting wheels on your office chair can help make it more comfortable. But in order to be ergonomically positioned, you will need to move your chair towards your desk. You’re less likely to do this if you’re having to scoot a static office chair backward and forwards every time you get up from your desk.
If your chair doesn’t already have wheels on it, place casters on the legs to make it mobile. If your chair does have wheels but they’re broken, replace the broken pieces so you can move easily. And if you have a hard time rolling your chair across the carpet, a firm desk pad can give you a surface that’s easier to maneuver on.
No matter how comfortable your office chair is, there’s no getting around the fact that humans were not designed to sit down all day. We were meant to walk around all day, and our bodies haven’t forgotten that. So every so often, get up from your desk, move around, and do some light stretching.
Every two hours or so, get up and take a lap around the office or even the building. Go refill your water bottle, stretch your back out, and get your blood flowing again. Not only will this help your back stay in better shape, but it can also help to lower your risk of clotting disorders and several other conditions.
Bonus: Hack Your Car Seat
So you’ve spent all day at work in your ergonomically adjusted chair, but now it’s time to go home. Your car seat can provide just as many ergonomic problems as your work chair does. And if you have a long commute, you may still arrive home with your back aching.
First and foremost, get lumbar support for your car to make sure your back is well supported. Make sure your seat isn’t leaned too far forward or back—you want to be very slightly reclined from 90 degrees. And make sure you’re at the right distance from the steering wheel so you aren’t scrunched up against it or so far back that you’re having to stretch to reach it.
Fix Uncomfortable Chairs
Uncomfortable chairs at work can lead to pain and even medical problems at home. If you can’t buy a new office chair, there are a variety of ways you can hack your current chair to be more comfortable. Stay on the edge of your seat, focus on keeping the right angles, and give yourself plenty of support.
If you’d like to find the best tools to make your work and home lives comfortable, check out the rest of our site at Everlasting Comfort. We provide everything you need for proper ergonomic support, from seat cushions and footrests to lumbar support and humidifiers. Shop our categories today and start living the life of comfort you deserve.