There are a number of ergonomic office chairs that do amazing things: keep you up straight, help you stay comfortable, and even some that are made from recyclable material. With some recent studies however, there is a reason you may want to avoid chairs with another popular feature: arm rests.
Why Skip the Arm Rests on your Office Chair?
Arm rests can be detrimental to you, and may encourage poor posture by allowing you to abduct the shoulders, meaning your elbows are away from your sides. The forearms then approach the keyboard on an angle, which requires the wrist to bend in order to type. This type of wrist bending can increase the risk of tendonitis. Chair arm rests may also create pressure on the soft tissues of the forearm and elbow, particularly if they are hard, or if they are used to rest an elbow in a “thinking” posture. They may encourage the worker to rest the entire forearm on the armrest, and operate the mouse or keyboard by wrist and finger movement alone, like a “windshield wiper” action. This posture also can be associated with tendonitis.
Office chairs with arm rests may also force you to sit further away from the work, and reach to type and mouse, such that the shoulders are flexed, meaning you elbows are forward from sides. This posture does not require muscle effort while the arms rest on the armrests, but the muscles do have to work much harder every time the hands move between positions, like the position switch between the keyboard to the mouse. To be useful as a “rest”, the worker typically adjusts the armrest to elbow height. However, this is the same height as the keyboard/mouse surface. The armrests often strike the work surface when the worker attempts to tuck the chair in close to sit in a “good” position; by the end of the day, the worker has given up trying to sit close to the work, and leans, perches or slouches in the chair. Over time, these small posture positions may hurt your health and physical fitness.
Leaning on an arm rest on your office chair hurts your chances of taking advantage of some crucial postures that help with focus as well. Our gaze naturally rests 1-2 inches below eye level, so having the top of whatever you’re working on any higher than eye level can cause you to crane your neck up to see your work, causing neck and eye strain. Leaning or hunching over on an arm rest can distort this eye level and hurt our necks over time.
Posture matters more than you may think. In fact, there’s evidence that whether you sit up straight or slouch affects the quality of your work. To understand why, it can be helpful to look back at our evolutionary ancestors. Millions of years ago, if you were sitting or lying down, the chances were pretty good you were in a relatively safe spot and could let your guard down. If you were standing or moving around, though, being extra attentive might mean the difference between finding food and becoming prey.
Today, our bodies still have this expectation baked in. That means, depending on how you hold yourself, there could be huge differences in how your body operates, which could have major implications for office workers looking to boost their productivity. Arm rests are more crutches than actual rests, and could be damaging your productivity and work quality. For that reason, it’s helpful to skip a chair with arm rests if you find yourself using them too often. A seating option that may peak your interest for an office chair without arms is also one that has other health benefits included.
ErgoStool – No Arms, No Danger to your Health
When searching for an office chair without arms, you should turn your attention towards the ErgoStool by Autonomous. The ErgoStool is your ticket to a healthier way of getting your work done. Arm rests may hinder your ability to practice good posture, but the ErgoStool allows you to build strength in your back and core by sitting up straight without the support of the typical office chair arm rests and that all too popular slouching position. Dynamic sitting emulates the frequent posture changes we make while standing that naturally tone our muscles, rather than the way we can stay in one spot when sunken into our office chairs. The weighted base provides great traction on various surfaces, allowing for a wide range of motion while seated. Best of all, you’re going to be doing more than counteracting the bad parts of an armed chair, you’ll also be helping your body along the way.
Poor posture is a leading cause of back pain and degenerative disc diseases, and it’s all too easy to experience these when you’re slouched against the arms of your chair. No arms, no problem. As you acclimatize to sitting on a backless, armless chair and build strength in your core and back through active sitting, your posture naturally improves. You’ll feel it inside the office and once you’re on your way home. Not only does the armless ErgoStool help you at work, but also while sitting in a regular office chair and standing. Your neck and back will be pain free because you’re spending more time upright and less in a bad position.
With a 10 inch range, the ErgoStool can be used at a regular desk and adapted to be used at a standing desk, allowing you to simulate a standing position while gently resting on the stool. For $89, ErgoStool allows you all the benefits of standing while still sitting to do your work. No arms on this office chair, and in fact, it’s not even a chair. The future is ergonomic seating options for the office, and that means less arms and more emphasis on your posture and physical well-being. That means this is your best bet to avoiding arms on a chair and feeling better.