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The Office Chair's Role in Alleviating Neck and Shoulder Pain

  • November 2, 2023
  • Pain

In today's work culture, many of us spend hours at our desks, often unaware of the toll it takes on our bodies. Neck and shoulder pain is one of the most common issues we face when working long hours. The good news is that selecting the right office chair can make a world of difference in reducing discomfort. In this blog, we'll examine chairs specially designed to provide relief from neck and shoulder pain, helping you to make a well-informed choice for your workspace.

Understanding the Culprit

Let’s consider what contributes to these issues. The demands of office work often call for long periods of sitting, commonly using lower-quality office chairs, which encourage less than ideal posture. These combined factors can result in muscle tension and discomfort in the neck and shoulder areas. By addressing these issues, you can significantly improve your time spent sitting and your overall well-being.


Chair Recommendations for Neck Pain

Ergonomic Design: Look for a chair that supports your pelvis. This encourages your spine to align in its natural, neutral S-curve. If the rest of the chair does not support good posture and spinal alignment, neck pain will persist. Beyond the pelvis support, the chair's overall ergonomic design, including seat height, arm height and backrest shape, is equally important in helping (and preventing) neck pain.

Seat Depth and Height Adjustability: You don’t want to sit awkwardly. A chair that allows you to adjust the seat depth and height ensures that your neck isn't strained due to sitting in an uncomfortable position. It’s also crucial that you are seated with your feet flat on the ground with your seat at the back of the seat and your knees positioned at a 90-degree angle.

Tilt Functionality: Chairs with a tilt mechanism help reduce the strain on your neck muscles, enabling you to shift your body position and posture now and again throughout the day. Tilt functionality also allows you to lean back slightly or rock gently, preventing your neck muscles from becoming overly strained due to the same posture being held for hours. This helps relieve the tension on your neck and promotes better circulation.

Chair Recommendations for Shoulder Pain

Adjustable Armrests – By setting the armrests at the correct height, you can make sure your shoulders remain realxed. This prevents your shoulders from being forced into an uncomfortable position, which can lead to pain and tension. Chairs with width-adjustable armrests allow you to customize the spacing between the armrests to match the width of your shoulders. This feature keeps your shoulders from feeling cramped and will help you keep a healthy shoulder posture.

Avoid Tall Wide Backs: Typical single plane backs are tall and wide, forcing the shoulders to round forward. This closes the space where the nerves run through the shoulder girdle and can cause pain, numbness, or tingling over time. Instead, a narrow or tapered back support that allows the shoulders to be rolled back and freedom of movement. This provides optimal neck and shoulder alignment.


Make Your Chair Your Own

Take the time to adjust your chair to fit your body’s unique needs. By tweaking the adjustments to your shape and comfort needs, you're taking a proactive steps in managing and avoiding those plaguing issues in your shoulders and neck. 


1. Szeto, G. P., Straker, L., & Raine, S. (2002). A field comparison of neck and shoulder postures in symptomatic and asymptomatic office workers. Applied ergonomics, 33(1), 75-84.

2. Straker, L. M., O'Sullivan, P. B., Smith, A. J., & Perry, M. C. (2009). Relationships between prolonged neck/shoulder pain and sitting spinal posture in male and female adolescents. Manual therapy, 14(3), 321-329.

3. Lee, M. H., Park, S. J., & Kim, J. S. (2013). Effects of neck exercise on high-school students’ neck–shoulder posture. Journal of physical therapy science, 25(5), 571-574.


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