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A chair should be topographically neutral. It should conform equally well to all body shapes, sizes, and contours without applying circulation-restricting pressure anywhere. While people of different body weights and builds distribute their weight on a chair in similar patterns, they are different when it comes to pressure intensity; this varies from person to person. The challenge is to engineer a chair so its structure and materials provide dynamic support. This allows the sitter’s body, rather than the chair’s structure, to dictate pressure distribution.
What We Know!
Surface pressure can cause discomfort while sitting. People of different body weights and builds distribute their weight on a chair in similar patterns, but pressure intensity and areas of distribution vary from person to person. Good pressure distribution in a chair focuses peak pressure under the sitting bones in upright postures and in the lumbar and thoracic areas in reclined postures.
Correct pressure distribution is critical to seated comfort (Grandjean et al., 1973). A high level of surface pressure can constrict blood vessels in underlying tissues, restricting blood flow, which the sitter experiences as discomfort.
Ergonomic Offcie Chair
What may seem like a small interference in pressure distribution can have a profound effect. For example, sitting on a wallet may seem harmless, but Gunnar Andersson M.D., an orthopedic surgeon specializing in spinal and back injuries and chairman of orthopedics at Rush Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, advises that there are severe consequences. “The wallet is in a place where, when you sit, it’s pushing right on the sciatic nerve, and because of the position of the wallet, you’re sitting off center, with one side higher than the other, so to sit up straight, you have to curve your spine. This puts an uneven load on the sacroiliac joints and on the lower back.”