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How To Protect Your Spine

By Daily Guide

THE INTERNATIONAL Bone and Joint Decade, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), with support from over 750 health organisations and National Action Networks in 60 countries, eight years ago initiated the World Spine Day to alert the public globally about the serious impact of spinal disability on individuals and healthcare systems.

The event was also meant to promote better spinal health habits among individuals.  

On October 16th each year, the World Spine Day is observed globally to encourage good spinal care through the dissemination of information on spinal health habits, teaching spinal exercises and making lifestyle recommendations to people, especially those suffering from spinal problems. 

As part of activities marking this year's Spinal Day celebration, The Spinal Clinic in conjunction with Chiropractic Around the World, a non-governmental organization, encourages all Ghanaians to take care of their spine and educate the younger generation about the importance of a healthy vertebral column because the youth are our future. 

By this, it is important to bring to the notice of all Ghanaians that majority of our people are working and sitting in uncomfortable chairs that are not conducive not only for their work environment, but their spines as well.

Sitting for long periods of time with chairs that are not spinal friendly could cause future spinal problems that could result in lasting negative effects on the vertebral column. 

Large numbers of clients visiting my clinic do ask me which office chairs are best to use.

Since working in an office typically involves spending a great deal of time, particular attention must be paid to the type of chair you would want to use.

Remember that sitting in an office chair adds a lot of stress to the structures in the spine, therefore it is important to have an office chair that is ergonomic, supports the lower back and promotes good posture; this would help prevent back problems.

Someone may ask: What kind of ergonomic office chair is best; what features should a good ergonomic office chair possess?

There are many types of ergonomic chairs available for use in the office, but consider first the "conventional" style of the office chair. An ergonomic chair should have:

Seat Height

A seat height that ranges from about 16 to 21 inches off the floor should work for most people. This allows the user to have his or her feet flat on the floor, with thighs horizontal and arms even with the height of the desk.

Secondly, the seat should have enough width and depth to support any user comfortably. Usually 17 to 20 inches wide is the standard.

The depth (from front to back of the seat) needs to be large enough so that the user can sit with his or her back against the backrest of the ergonomic chair while leaving approximately 2 to 4 inches between the back of the knees and the seat of the chair. The forward or backward tilt of the seat should be adjustable.

Lumbar Support

Lower back support in an ergonomic chair is very important. The lumbar spine has an inward curve, and sitting for long periods without support for this curve tends to lead to slouching (which flattens the natural curve) and strains the structures in the lower spine.

An ergonomic chair should have a lumbar adjustment (both height and depth) to enable the user get the proper fit to support the inward curve of the lower back.

Backrest

The backrest of an ergonomic office chair should be 12 to 19 inches wide. If the backrest is separated from the seat, it should be adjustable in height and angle.

It should also be able to support the natural curve of the spine, with special attention paid to proper support of the lumbar region.

If the office chair has the seat and backrest together as one piece, the backrest should be adjustable in forward and back angles, with a locking mechanism to secure it from going too far backward once the user has determined the appropriate angle.

Seat material

The material on the office chair seat and back should have adequate padding comfortable enough to enable the user sit on for extended periods of time. Having a cloth fabric that breathes is preferable to a harder surface.

Armrests

Office chair armrests should be adjustable. They should allow the user's arms to rest comfortably and shoulders to be relaxed. The elbows and lower arms should rest lightly, and the forearm should not be on the armrest while typing.

Swivel

Any conventional style or ergonomic chair should easily rotate so the user can reach different areas of his or her desk without straining.

For any other questions about the best sitting postures or to check to see if you have any spinal problems, please feel free to contact our clinic. Article by Dr. Bryan L. Cox, CEO of The Spinal Clinic