Death by chair

July 15, 2012 at 9:02 pm 1 comment

I spend most of my day sitting at a desk and some days I can literally feel my body slowly recoiling within itself, angry at the lack of varied movement. It’s in those moments when I remember the research that has shown that sitting for more than two hours at a time takes minutes off your expected life span. As a researcher and writer, when I get into a groove and focus on work, I can find that two or three hours have passed since I last stood up. Some days, my job is literally killing me.

Drinking water helps get me on my feet, but it still doesn’t detract from the fact that when I am at my desk I am usually sitting with poor posture. I’ve been under chiropractic care for over a year now (thank you grad school) and that has helped eliminate my chronic lower back pain, and has helped my awareness of how I hold my body, but I still catch myself slumping, leaning to one side, holding tension in my shoulders, jutting my neck out toward the computer and clenching my jaw. I straighten up, but slowly my muscle memory forces me back into a contorted desk monster and the cycle goes on.

The foundation of chi running is posture. Grounded feet, scooped pelvis, engaged core, shoulders back, lengthened spine: a good mountain pose, not only when standing, but when running, walking and sitting. Since I spend most of my time sitting I really needed to come up with a strategy for my posture.

Some months ago I bought an exercise ball to use instead of a desk chair and I bought the biggest size I could find at Target (55 cm). Unfortunately, when I took it to work and inflated it I felt like a child. I was looking up at my computer screen, reaching my arms up to type and my shoulders were almost level with the top of my desk. That may be an exaggeration, but it’s how I remember it feeling. It was definitely too small to sit on for any meaningful length of time.

I talked with my chiropractor about other options like stools and kneeling chairs but I didn’t do anything about it. Then, a coworker showed up the other day with a ball chair and the lightbulb went on. A frame for the ball! And it is height adjustable! Booyah!

So I did a little research and shopping and came across these options.

This ball chair, from Isokinetics.com, seemed pretty affordable (none are really that cheap) but I didn’t really like the backrest. It might be hard to lean too far back no matter what the model, but such a big backrest seemed to defeat the purpose. I decided to keep looking and came across this Gaiam model.

It’s a patented design and again seemed nice, despite the backrest, but it doesn’t have an adjustable height, which was a key requirement. I also came across this model.

From evolutionchair.com, this version–no backrest, no arm rests–was appealing but way too out of my price range.  There are cheaper options out there but I couldn’t find any that were height adjustable.

In the end I went with a model that looks very similar to the one my coworker has.

It is from isokineticsinc.com, it is the best price I can find and it comes with a 30 day return policy and a 1 year warranty. Some of the reviews I’ve read say that the castors aren’t the best and the frame may be a little cheap, but I think the return policy and the warranty will cover any issues I may have. It should be here by the end of the week or early next week at the latest.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep straightening out and trying not to a desk monster.

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Entry filed under: Ball Chair, Posture. Tags: , .

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