Many people developed some form of recurring body pain ever since they started working from their homes because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, one survey of remote workers showed that 81 per cent have developed chronic pain in their back, necks or shoulders.
What’s the reason behind the phenomenon? Most of the respondents blamed their body’s aches on their lack of physical activity and a poorly designed work setup at home. This has led many to invest in ergonomic office chairs and massage chairs, which are designed to encourage proper posture and minimise the stress you put on your back.
Not all office and massage chairs were created equal, however. Some provide better back support than others. So if you’re planning to buy one of your own, it’s important to know what features to look for to maximise the pain relief benefits you’re getting.
OSIM shares this comprehensive buyer’s guide for chairs for back pain relief to help you shop wisely.
Office Chairs for Back Pain Relief
While many office chairs are marketed as “ergonomic,”they don’t all live up to the promise. A truly ergonomic chair provides full back support, proper pelvic alignment and the right amount of cushioning. These benefits depend on the chair’s design, so you need to scrutinise its individual features to make sure you’ll get the back support you sorely need.
Below are the features to consider when buying an ergonomic office chair:
1. Recline Angle
Slouching is among the biggest culprits of back pain, so you want an office chair that would keep you from slumping while working. Choose a chair that allows you to recline and adjust your position throughout the day so your spine won’t grow stiff.
Multiple studies have also discovered that reclining is better for your back than sitting upright. This is because a reclined sitting position reduces the pressure you’re putting on your spinal discs, which are shock absorbers that minimise the stress your back experiences.
2. Backrest Height
Look for a high-back office chair instead of a low-back one, especially if it has a low recline. An office chair with a taller backrest extends the back support all the way up to your shoulders and neck, which should reduce the pain in those areas.
Your office chair should also have a comfortable headrest that firmly supports your head as you lean back on the chair instead of leaving your neck dangling.
3. Lumbar Support
The best chairs for back pain relief have adequate lumbar support to suit the natural S shape of the spine, preventing pain in your lower back and buttocks. If you’re getting a low-reclining chair, make sure it has lumbar support because leaning back tends to push the lower torso forward, leaving that part unsupported.
We recommend choosing an office chair with adjustable lumbar support so you can place it exactly on the part of your back that needs it.
4. Seat Design
Seat design also contributes to your posture while sitting, from its height and width to its cushioning. The best office chair has an adjustable seat height that lets you plant your feet flat on the floor while sitting, keeping your spine in a neutral position.
For the seat width, leave two to four inches between the front edge of the seat and your knees. This space keeps the seat from putting undue pressure on the back of your knees. Make sure the seat cushion is thick but firm so you can sit comfortably for long hours.
The shape of the seat’s edge also matters. Look for an office chair with a waterfall seat design or a seat that curves downward in the front. This shape removes pressure on the back of your thighs and keeps the seat from cutting off your circulation, so you have a more comfortable sitting position.
Best Office Chairs for Back Pain
Below are some ergonomic office chairs equipped with features that reduce back pain:
Zenith High Back Mesh Office Chair
This high-back office chair delivers excellent comfort at a relatively affordable price. It has a built-in lumbar support, a waterfall seat design, headrest and a mesh back and cushion. The seat height and armrests are also adjustable, so you can customise them according to your build.
Herman Miller Aeron
This premium office chair is considered one of the best in the market right now. The design of the chair is based on research on sitting and posture to ensure maximum ergonomics for the user. The seat height and lumbar support of the Aeron are both adjustable. It also has a low recline, with the armrests attached to the backrest so that they move every time you lean back.
Human scale Liberty Task Office Chair
The Liberty chair focuses on lumbar support, so it’s ideal for people with chronic lower back pain. It also boasts a mechanism-free reclining system, which means the chair adapts to your body’s position without you having to change the settings. The backrest is made from breathable mesh and the seat height adjustable to ensure your utmost comfort.
Massage Chairs for Back Pain Relief
A full-body massage chair is a great investment if you frequently visit the masseuse to ease body aches. Having your own massage chair can save you more money in the long run since you won’t have to pay for massage services and transportation fees to the spa.
Look for the following features if you’re buying a massage chair specifically for back pain relief:
1. Full Massage Capabilities
The rollers and airbags of the chair should be able to reach the back of your neck, shoulders and lower back because these are the parts of the body that ache due to poor posture. Massage ports for the thighs are also a good addition because back pain often extends to the legs.
2. Heated Massage Option
Premium massage chairs typically offer heated massage options. Heat loosens up the muscles further, which is why hot stones are popular for back massages. Turning on the warm air lets you work on those stubborn muscle knots without having to use intense massage pressure.
3. Zero Gravity
The zero-gravity position is based on NASA’s neutral body posture specifications. This recline setting raises your legs above your heart to imitate the feeling of weightlessness that astronauts feel in space. It lifts the pressure off your joints, allowing you to achieve a more pain-relieving massage.
4. Back Stretching Program
Spinal decompression is a form of therapy that gently stretches the spine to realign the spinal discs and joints, relieve pressure on the spinal nerves, and provide pain relief. Some massage chairs emulate the spinal decompression therapy through a back-stretching massage program.
This program places the body in a horizontal position then lifts the legs higher than the head. The position looks similar to the zero gravity setting but with a steeper incline. It elongates the spine to correct the alignment of the spinal discs, which helps relieve back pain.
Best Massage Chairs for Back Pain
Below are massage chairs in a range of price points that have special features for relieving back pain:
uLove 2 Massage Chair
Powered by 4-Hand Massage technology, the uLove 2 Massage Chair makes you feel like you’re getting a massage from a real masseuse. It has four sets of massage rollers that work on your upper and lower body simultaneously, addressing pain in various parts of your body. The uLove 2 also offers a suite of massage programs for different lifestyles, including sports and sleep programs.
uDivine V Massage Chair
The uDivine V Massage Chair offers targeted whole-body relief, with roller balls that reach the head, neck, shoulders, lumbar area, buttocks and thighs. This chair is a relatively affordable option for those who suffer from poor posture and frequently experience back pain that extend to their legs. The uDivine V also has massage programs designed to help you sleep better.
Choosing the Best Chair for Back Pain Relief
Whether you’re buying an ergonomic office chair or a massage chair, make sure you’re considering its features with your pain points and lifestyle in mind. An office chair would be a wise investment if you sit in front of your computer for long hours every day. On the other hand, a massage chair can supplement any physical therapies you’re undergoing to treat your chronic back pain.
We recommend consulting your doctor or a physical therapist to know which of the two chairs would be the better purchase for your condition.
If you want to learn more about how to relieve back pain, visit the OSIM Wellness Hub blog. You’ll find insightful articles about preventing and alleviating body pain, proper posture, and health and wellness there.
OSIM is a globally recognised massage chair manufacturing brand. We carry a range of luxury massage products, including upper and lower body massagers and portable massagers.
Check out our selection of upper body massagers that are designed to ease back pain.