Thinking about comfort often draws our minds to a soft plush chair that we sink into as it wraps itself around our tired bodies. But is this actually good for you? Soft chairs feel great, we can all attest to that, however it is not really a good shout for long term health and comfort.
As hours go by, aches and pains start to appear, and you will likely have begun to slouch. Slouching causes backache, and you know those annoying muscle knots you get that make you feel like screaming out to get a massage as soon as possible? It also causes those too.
Generally soft chairs will exacerbate poor posture as they do not provide sufficient support to your back. In the long-term, hard chairs are actually much better for your health.
It is better to miss out on the short -term gains of soft, cloud-like comfort in order to get the posture helping benefits of a good posture, and no more aches and pains in your back.
It is also more comfortable to sit upright in a firm chair than to slouch. If you try it out, slouch for five minutes and then sit upright for five minutes, you will see exactly what we mean. Harder chairs keep your back supported, so you will feel more comfortable for longer.
Though we say this, if you have spent years, or maybe even just months sitting in soft chairs, it may take some time to adapt as your back will probably be accustomed to slouching.
Sitting in a hard chair after a long time of sitting in a soft chair may feel like stretching at first because your muscles are readjusting to their proper position and having to strengthen again.
Slouching also means that your back muscles are not using their strength, so when you finally sit upright after a long time of slouching, it can almost feel like a work-out, in extreme cases.
Comfort and support are very different things. Support refers to how well the chair supports your spine and keeps you upright. Soft seats are comfortable at first, but this comfort will degrade over time as you start to slouch and this causes aches.
You might think we are wrong here, but the stats say enough. You see, a very high number of people suffer from back pain after sitting in a soft seat. This may seem weird at first because soft seats feel comfortable, right?
Well, at first of course, but as your posture suffers from the soft seat, pain creeps in as the natural curve of your back goes unsupported. A good chair should cause you to tense your whole body subconsciously, this enhances your muscles and keeps your neck and shoulders straight and stiff.
What many people may not realize is that sitting puts up to three times more pressure on your spine than standing does, this is why you will notice the effects of a bad posture more when you stand than you do when you sit.
So if you go for a walk after sitting in a soft chair and suddenly start feeling pain, it is not because you pulled something on your walk, it is because your spine is feeling the pressure of your bad posture from your soft-seat sitting.
Is a hard chair better for your back?
While we know that soft seats are not great for your back and tend to give you more pain and problems that hard seats do (primarily from poor posture), we also know that hard seats can also be bad for you.
It is safe to say that humans were not designed to sit as much as we do now days, and this is why getting a good chair is very important if you spend much time sitting down, for example, if you have a desk job, you need a chair that is the right level of hard and soft, with adequate support.
Sitting on very hard surfaces such as a wooden bench, or a metal folding chair, or even leaning against a wall can put pressure on your tailbone.
This will cause any existing pain to worsen, and will probably create some new pains. Generally, your tailbone can actually become injured just by sitting.
Injuries to your tailbone can actually result in a condition called coccydynia, which is when the tailbone and its surrounding tissues become damaged. Sitting for long periods in certain positions, such as at your desk job, or even while driving, can result in discomfort or unease.
While hard chairs are better for you than soft chairs, as they support your spine, you must also ensure that you are sitting correctly to not damage your tailbone, or cause any more issues to your body.
One way to do this is to ensure you are sitting at the correct height, your hips and lower back should be in the correct position. Your knees should be at or just above hip height and your chair should support the natural S-shaped curve of your spine.
The seat depth should also be correct, if it is correct your body will not have to work as hard to stay upright. If you sit a lot your posture will eventually slump from the effort of having to sit upright, a good chair that tilts forward slightly can help you improve your posture.
Keeping your knees just above hip height will help this, and it will give you better circulation to your legs and feet.
If you spend a lot of time sitting then it is best that you invest in a proper ergonomic chair, these chairs are hard enough but also have proper spinal support and will help you to position your body correctly so that sitting down does not have a damaging effect on your body, and instead helps your posture improve.
Having a good posture is imperative for relieving back pains and soft chairs are the cause of this, hard and supportive chairs are the remedy.