Office Chair Ergonomics: Best Office Chair for Back Pain

Let’s talk about the conversation I've been having frequently with people since the pandemic started. We found out that many people who are working at home have poor ergonomics and poor workstation setups at home.

One of the things that I've been recommending to people through this whole pandemic is using a chair called the swopper


I got two swopper chairs here. A swopper is a chair that is like sitting on one of the biggest exercise balls, and we call them the rehab balls, the therapy balls and the swiss balls.

Now, I'm a big tall guy, I’m a 6-footer and sitting on one of those balls with my size, I compress it a lot. It’s not something that's very usable long term. 

So, the swopper is an alternative to that. It is a little spendy compared to just a regular exercise ball. 

Now, let me go over my two swopper chairs. This is the black one here that I bought in 2001. So, it's 2021. I'm going to go over the fact that it's old, and I've had it for a long time. And I use this for many, many years as my chair. However, it’s something I haven't been using because I got a new one, but I'll go over that in just a moment.

So, this chair, it's like a sitting on a ball; it moves around, it has springs to adjust how tense it is, or how stable or unstable it is. But the benefit of this chair is when you're sitting on it, it's forcing your core to fire, it's forcing a little multifidus muscles to work, it forces your abdominals to work.

If you end up slouching in it, it really becomes uncomfortable and your center of gravity starts to pull you off of the thing. It forces you to sit in a much better ergonomic posture than if you were just sitting on a regular chair.

Those regular chairs that are $3,000, I don't think they're very good. These swopper chairs are about $600. They're not cheap by any means but again, I've had this one for 19 years and it's still in working condition although it's being used every day in the front of my office. 

This new swopper chair here, I got it from a patient of mine who was too lazy to actually sit on it because it does make you work. So, if you're not willing to work a little bit and you're lazy, this isn't the chair for you.

Let's be honest, I've been using it for several years and the difference between the two, the one I'm sitting on now it has wheels. By having wheels, it's a little bit taller about a couple of inches than the one that doesn’t have wheels. But the benefit is for taller people like me, it allows me to sit with my hips above my knees.

Whereas most chairs will hold me in a situation where my knees and hips are level or my hips are a little lower, which compresses my hip flexors and causes me a lot of compression. So, this is where I would sit in a traditional chair.

At the end of a workday sitting and typing here would not be beneficial for me versus if I raise it up and then I sit on it. That difference in height is very significant for me at the end of the workday. 

Via Seating Special Edition Swopper Stool, Black

Image via Amazon

So that's the swopper and it is a fantastic chair. I do tell and recommend people to sit in it in a wearing pattern or like if you ever get an orthotic, they don't tell you to just go wear the orthotic for eight hours a day on the first day.

So, sit on it for 30 minutes, a couple times in the morning, 30 minutes in the afternoon and start building your way up to sitting on it for longer periods to be able to sit on it for a full day. 

Why not work on your core while you're working? That’s the benefit of it. And one of the biggest things we're seeing through this pandemic is people sitting at home, and a workstation from home that's not very ergonomic at all.

That kind of starts having your core involved when you least expect it and that sets the table for a much better day for back pain for neck pain, etc.

I hope all home workers that are shifting and pivoting to work and at home, that you're thinking about your posture and you're thinking about your ergonomics and that you're not just sitting there, grinding away at the dinner table with a laptop sitting on it and looking down at it all day. 

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Stephen Dunn