While many gaming chairs are both comfortable, stylish, and affordable, are they good for your back in both long-term and short-term usage? The answer is yes, although it depends on precisely how you sit and how you manage your posture.
In this article, we will be taking an in-depth look at gaming chairs, what they can offer, how certain features can promote spinal health, and how using them improperly can lead to a pretty severe lack of comfort. Read on to find out more.
What Is The Purpose Of A Gaming Chair?
The purpose of a gaming chair is to offer neutral and relaxed sitting support and fix many of the problems found in office chairs that lead to bad posture and poor spinal health.
Sitting in a comfortable chair that offers good support is essential to a lot more than just comfort–a chair that offers exceptional lumbar support, backrests, and other tilt-lock features can boost productivity, alertness, and cognitive function, too.
Gaming chairs offer all of these things–features that are, unfortunately, not provided in many office chairs today.
How Do They Help?
Being able to sit up straight offers a variety of improvements and benefits. While occasionally slouching can appear to be comfortable at first, it is a truly detrimental habit that can lead to a lot of back problems for many users down the road and is certainly something that should be avoided at all costs.
Firstly, since gaming chairs are engineered and designed for proper upright posture, they can reduce back pain. Back problems are the number one cause of disability across the globe, meaning that when someone tells you to sit up straight, you should probably listen.
Next, with a good posture, longer and more comfortable periods of time can be spent working, relaxing, or doing whatever your computer or television requires of you.
Finally, when the body is both comfortable and rested, productivity and cognitive brain function improve in the human mind–fewer annoyances and distractions, naturally, lead to a far less distracted mind.
Sitting awkwardly for extended periods of time or in tight and restrictive positions–many of which are the only positions you can sit in with office chairs, for instance–can strain the muscles that surround the spine.
This consistent straining can wear down other muscles and cause misalignments around the body. Once you have entered this stage, sitting for long periods can quickly become painful.
As we mentioned before, gaming chairs are specifically designed to avoid this by offering support and other measures by which comfortable, upright positions can be attained, ensuring healthy, relaxed muscle alignment.
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How Are Gaming Chairs Engineered For Comfort And Back Health?
Gaming chairs first emerged onto the scene in the early 2000s. Since then, they have made themselves available in various affordable and luxury-priced options, making them widespread and easy to get your hands on.
A typical gaming chair is designed to make extended periods of use accessible while providing plenty of comfort and supporting spinal health.
Most of the gaming chairs that you can find on the market today use what is known as the racing-style design. A strong, stable, and reliable steel frame supports the body and provides ergonomic functionality.
This steel foundation allows for a variety of extra features that you would not find on a typical office chair, even those at similar price points–features such as lumbar support, arm-rests, winged shoulder support, backrests and headrests, and neck pillows.
An Overview of Neutral Sitting Support
Gaming chairs are also ergonomically designed for neutral sitting positions.
To sit this way,
- Begin by placing your feet flat on the ground. This will keep some of the weight off of your lower spine
- Sit flat while tucking your hips deep into the pan of the seat, otherwise known more colloquially as the main cushion
- Lastly, adjust the neck rest and lumbar support pillows to fit the curve and shape of your spine
This is one setup feature that you won’t want to skimp out on!
Remember, people come in all shapes and sizes with all sorts of uniquely shaped spines, so customizing your sitting experience–calibrating, if you will–is essential to allowing your gaming chair to help you sit up straight and achieve a healthy, correct posture.
Lastly, lean your body into the back of the chair against the backrest and relax.
Lumbar pillows are great for aligning your hips and straightening the upper body, which allows for various benefits. Sitting in the correct position and allowing your gaming chair to do much of the work for you will enable the head to be correctly balanced above the shoulders while simultaneously reducing neck strain.
You can also induce ‘dynamic’ neutral sitting, which is a fancy way of saying that you can adjust the tilt of the chair and the position of the pillows and neck rests to give a little bit of variety to your sitting position.
This change in position allows the blood to flow naturally in a few different ways, which keeps many muscles and nerves from getting tired or ‘falling asleep,’ preventing those nasty pins and needles that we all dislike.
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How About Casual Relaxation Support?
Don’t be fooled into thinking that an upright position is the only way to sit in a healthy and comfortable way, though!
The genius of gaming chairs is that the extra position-adjusting features and support pillows that allow for healthy upright posture can be used just as easily for good posture if you want to relax, too.
All gaming chairs come with high-set backrests and neck rests that allow you to comfortably recline into many different casual positions. You have to be careful, though–while sitting casually and ‘slouching’ may be temporarily comfortable, freestyle posture habits can quickly lead to degenerative spine health.
Gaming chairs can pose a risk in this regard, seeing as they have many extra support features that, when used incorrectly, can lead to back pain.
What Is Wrong With A Traditional Office Chair?
Quite a lot of things!
Most of the time, cheap, low-grade office chairs only offer one ergonomic feature–it has adjustable height. Static armchairs, lack of lumbar support and neck rests, and the inability to tilt the chair and lock it into a set position.
Some office chairs offer these features, but they generally come at a far higher price than even some of the lowest-end gaming chairs, which paints the picture as to which of the two options is more accessible and affordable.
If you do decide to purchase a cheap one-size-fits-all office chair, be aware that the lack of ergonomic features can lead to cascading spinal health issues.
How Does Poor Posture Reduce Productivity?
Great question–we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common ways that poor posture can hinder general wellness and reduce productivity:
Chronic Fatigue: improper balance of muscle strain and imbalanced posture stresses muscles and adds tension where it is unnecessary, leading the body to expend more energy than normal to maintain a balanced posture. This causes muscle fatigue. Consistent muscle fatigue leads to the breakdown of joints as well as the ligaments between muscles, causing the body to endure undue stress.
Muscle and Joint Pain: Chronic neck and back pain can be manifest as a result of extra stress being placed upon the muscles of the neck, back, hips, and even arms. This effect is a result, as we mentioned previously, of misaligned muscles.
Depression: A multitude of studies have shown a direct correlation between poor posture and negative emotions, which can lead to depression. Additionally, chronic fatigue due to the extra stress placed on muscles can lead to an increase in negative thoughts and emotions.
On the opposite side of things, there have been many studies that link alertness, positive thinking, and energy with good posture–in contrast, those who slouch and have poor posture tend more so towards apathetic emotions, negative thinking, and even weight gain.
Poor Circulation: Poor posture for extending periods of time can prevent optimal blood flow, which can lead to varicose in veins, which can be understood as a constriction of the vein–preventing proper, healthy blood circulation–similar to a kink in a hose. This can be prevented by regular exercise and proper sitting posture.
How Can Good Posture Increase Productivity?
Healthy posture supports the muscles and ligaments about the base and midrange of the spinal column. Because the body is constantly ‘leaning’ on its muscles and suspending itself, energy-efficient posture leaves more energy available to the brain for cognitive functioning and productivity.
According to recent studies, more than ninety percent of the body’s energy is expended simply by keeping the body upright and in its own gravitational field. Your body must constantly fight the forces of physics, making micro-adjustments at a rate so fast the human mind is incapable of registering to stay in any position.
This is why good posture is so important–by taking as much work and stress away from the body to maintain its posture, i.e., by being as comfortable and energy-efficient as possible, you can hack that energy expenditure ratio and divert more energy to the brain. This, in turn, heightens focus, cognitive function, and productivity.
A Brief Overview Of How Gaming Chairs Supports The Body
In this section of the article, we will break down exactly how gaming chairs and other chairs equipped with ergonomic designs can support the body–so hang tight.
- Lumbar Support: In all ergonomically designed gaming chairs, a straight back is the key to good posture. When standing upright, a healthy degree-tilt of the lower back is generally between 25 and 25 degrees. Sitting without any kind of lumbar support can lead to a reduced lower-back curve by about 50%. Gaming chairs, usually equipped with pillows to support the lower muscles that surround the spine, reverses this effect.
- Adjustable Arm Rests: Arms weigh a good deal more than you think, and their weight distribution is critical to energy efficiency as well as spinal health. On the average male, the entirety of the arm beginning past the shoulder and extending to the fingertips weighs and an average of 10 to 12 pounds. Without adequate support, the muscles surrounding the neck and back are forced to constantly carry this weight on their own. Sitting for extended periods without making sure that your arms have ergonomic resting places to support them and take the stress away from those muscles may lead to chronic fatigue.
- The Importance of Backrests: As much as we might not like it, it is hard to ignore the fact that humans were never designed to sit in chairs. This is why it is critical to sit in as natural of a way as possible, thereby reducing the stress load on the muscles. ‘Dynamic’ sitting is a technical term for making small degree-varying adjustments based on active or passive activities employed while sitting in a chair.
For instance, if you are sitting in a gaming chair and enjoying your favorite novel, you would want to be leaning back into the chair and letting the backrest take the brunt of the work. This decreases the average spinal load, which reduces muscle fatigue.
However, if you are working at your desk, an upright posture with a straightened back coupled with adequate and height-adjusted arm support allows for the spinal load to be taken off of an upright back.
Now that we’ve covered and explained the importance of backrests, armrests, seat posture, and lumbar support, it is also important to note that sitting for extensive periods of time is never the best solution for a healthy back.
While they may not be in every consumer’s budget, electrically powered desks that can be raised and lowered in height are a great way to maintain spinal health.
By alternating between intermittent periods of standing and sitting correctly, you can make the most use of energy efficiency, take the stress off of burdened muscles, increase blood flow, and enjoy the benefits of not needing to have spinal disks replaced at age 43. That was a joke, by the way.
On a more serious note, workplaces have changed so drastically since the advent of computers (and they continue to evolve, too) that so-called ‘desk jobs’ are becoming more prevalent than ever before. In a world where many jobs require their workers to sit for long periods of time, it is important to take care of your physical health.
Gaming chairs are a great way to do this. By providing the spine and the muscles in the neck, back, and arms with adequate support, you can relieve stress as well as enjoy a more comfortable sitting session, whether you’re working at home or an in office, or simply relaxing while playing games or enjoying media content.
So, are gaming chairs good for your back? You bet your bottom dollar they are, and we wholeheartedly recommend that you pick one up for yourself if you can afford one.
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