A Pain in the...

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The school desk-chairs are one-size fits all desks, in which both the petite 5' and tall 6'8" students must both fit, despite the obvious discomfort. The entire unit is welded in place, so there is no space for students to adjust to their size. Some student's feet hardly touch the ground, whiles others knees are jammed into the bottom of the desk. It decreases the circulation to the legs and positions the back in a constant slouch, making the chair very uncomfortable. The somatosensory cortex senses this discomfort and cues fidgeting to overcome postural strain, which is then distracting from the subject's work.
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In blinding contrast, there is a chair that is so well designed, it has earned a place in the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection. This chair, the Aeron chair, pays particular attention to the ergonomic needs of a desk chair, as well as the environmental. With nine different points of adjustment in the chair, it is capable of fitting each and every body type, while positioning the spine and pelvis in the anatomically correct position for maximum comfort and support.

The chair's main website demonstrates the versatility of the chair according to your specific needs. The Aeron chair ensures the customer has a comfortable seating position and alleviates back pain. The absence of fidgeting and discomfort allows one to focus and complete their work without pain. That is, if you want to pay over $600 for a chair.

9 Comments

For sure! I feel like school chairs are only made for the average people in terms of size and height. I'm quite an average but I always have felt bad about those who are not quite the average. School chairs already give me pain when i sit for a long time studying. I can't even imagine how worse that would be for those people. But I negotiated with myself that I would not complain if it's not made with wood. I think wooden chairs are the most painful thing.

I am in complete agreement here, BUT I don't like all of the knobs and levers needed to change the comfort level of the chair. I am older and it is confusing for me. How about some electronics to change the positioning? Push button?

This is a really interesting article! I liked that you described our brains' process of inducing fidgeting to counter back pain. That would be an example of the sympathetic nervous system, right?
These chairs seem very well-designed, ergonomically. However, it is doubtful that a school would be able to spend $600 per chair for each of their classrooms - and furthermore, they likely would not be able to spend the extra money on finding desks to accomodate those chairs. This is unfortunate, because I think sitting in these chairs all day would be much more beneficial than the situation we have now.
Have you considered bosu balls or exercise balls at all? I'd be curious to see if the somatosensory cortex has the same fidgeting reaction, or if these could be used to both distract our brains and counteract the discomfort. Plus, they increase core strength and encourage good posture.

I agree with the only design downfall with the Aeron chair being the principle of visibility. By looking we should be able to tell the state of the device and the alternatives for action. Maybe something as simple as thin brightly colored or chrome highlight pieces on the places that control adjustments would be a solution. On a positive note, I have seen an alternative to the traditional welded desks used in a fairly new elementary school- They had angled tables with individual chairs (still of only one height and size) but offered more room for movement/repositioning than the confining desks. It also kept students space organized because they had only what they needed out, with other materials stored in larger locker units on the perimeter of the classroom.

This was really interesting to read, especially since it was related back to us as students. Although this may be a good solution, there could be other solutions to this problem, such as possibly exercise balls. Those have also been shown to help students with their backs.

Very interesting topic and article! I was actually thinking about this the other day because at the hot yoga studio I go to, the chairs at the main desk are fitness balls placed into a stationary chair-like figure with wheels. Sitting on fitness balls forces the sitter to use core muscles and lower back muscles to sit with good posture. But I feel like the use of fitness balls for ALL desk chairs at any university or school wouldn't be ideal. The topic of what kind of desk chairs to use at schools is a tricky one.

You are so right, I never really payed attention to that because I am of average size and I didn't really have any problems with the school desks. However, it doesn't work for everyone and some people can be uncomfortable in it. So i agree that schools do need to come up with a better system for their chairs, something that is a little adjustable. Maybe not a $600 chair but something else. And this chair mentioned does sound very ideal for everyone and would be the best choice, but if it was cheaper it would be very ideal.

Being short, I have a hard time in desk chairs because my feet dangle and my back doesn't fit properly in the desk chairs. Perhaps the U should look into these $600 chairs... Our tuition money should provide us with happy bodies during class :)

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This page contains a single entry by harme039 published on February 14, 2012 4:37 PM.

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