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A pilot investigation into the effects of different office chairs on spinal angles

Abstract

Purpose

To investigate the effects of four office chairs on the postural angles of the lumbopelvic and cervical regions.

Research question

Which chair(s) produce an “ideal” spinal posture?

Methods

An experimental same subject design was used involving healthy subjects (n = 14) who conducted a typing task whilst sitting on four different office chairs; two “dynamic” chairs (Vari-Kneeler and Swopper), and two static chairs (Saddle and Standard Office with back removed). Data collection was via digital photogrammetry, measuring pelvic and lumbar angles, neck angle and head tilt which were then analysed within MatLab. A repeated measures ANOVA with Bonferroni corrections for multiple comparisons was conducted.

Results

Statistically significant differences were identified for posterior pelvic tilt and lumbar lordosis between the Vari-Kneeler and Swopper chairs (p = 0.006, p = 0.001) and the Vari-Kneeler and Standard Office chairs (p = 0.000, 0.000); and also for neck angle and head tilt between the Vari-Kneeler and Swopper chairs (p = 0.000, p = 0.000), the Vari-Kneeler and Saddle chairs (p = 0.002, p = 0.001), the Standard Office and Swopper chairs (p = 0.000, p = 0.000), and the Standard Office and Saddle chairs (p = 0.005, p = 0.001). This study confirms a within region association between posterior pelvic tilt and lumbar lordosis, and between neck angle and head tilt. It was noted that an ideal lumbopelvic position does not always result in a corresponding ideal cervical position resulting in a spinal alignment mismatch.

Conclusion

In this study, the most appropriate posture for the lumbopelvic region was produced by the Saddle chair and for the cervical region by both the Saddle and Swopper chairs. No chair consistently produced an ideal posture across all regions, although the Saddle chair created the best posture of those chairs studied. Chair selection should be based on individual need.

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Acknowledgments

Authors thank Back in Action (Bristol) for the loan of the Vari-Kneeler and Swopper and Bambach for loaning the Saddle and adjustable desk.

Conflict of interest

None.

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Correspondence to S. Annetts.

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Annetts, S., Coales, P., Colville, R. et al. A pilot investigation into the effects of different office chairs on spinal angles. Eur Spine J 21, 165–170 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00586-012-2189-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00586-012-2189-z

Keywords

  • Office seating
  • Spinal angles
  • Posture
  • Photogrammetry