I often laugh as this is one of the first questions that I ask an office worker who comes in with neck, shoulder, or lower back pain. Do you know how many people do not know the answer to this question?!
Traditionally, OH&S requirements encourage the use of armrests on the chair as they act to support the elbows and arms. Which if used correctly they do. However, we are inherently lazy and I can tell you from many years of osteopathic experience, people do not use the armrests to support their arms; they use them to lean on and hold up their entire body weight! So this is the first problem with armrests. Your arms are not load bearing joints, so leaning on your elbow, supporting your body weight over the course of a work week ultimately with result in neck and shoulder complaints.
My second issue with armrests is that they get in the way! Have you noticed that when they are at the correct height for your arms, they hit the desk? This means that you end up sitting about a foot away from the desk, meaning that you end up perching on the chair to get closer to the desk (BAD – lower back complaints), or you end up reaching for the keyboard and mouse (BAD – neck, shoulder and elbow complaints).
The way you counter this, is that you put your chair down to so that you can slide the armrests under the table. Clever, yes? No. This then means your chair is far too low and you are having to raise your elbows to get over the height of the desk (BAD – neck shoulder and arm complaints).
The simplest solution? Remove the armrests from the chair (often you can) or buy a chair without arms. It’s that easy! With this simple adjustment you might find that your neck, shoulder, and lower back complaints might resolve.
We sell an excellent ergonomic, comfortable chair WITHOUT armrests ($209) if you get stuck, just ask your osteopath when you’re next, in or send us an email.
If you’d like to chat more about your ergonomics are have a full review done, please book in with me and we can chat more about this.