Back support or no back support? This is an age-old question, and although it’s a common belief that chairs are obviously better, that might not be the case. Why do you ask? How can a chair be worse off?
Logically speaking, providing more support to the back and maybe even the arms should be a better thing. Lack of it should be a bad thing. Then why is it that studies and research all point to stools being a better seating option?
Why Stools Are Superior to Chairs:
To put it simply, the back support provided by regular chairs might feel nice, but it isn’t supporting your back the way your back should be supported.
Chairs encourage more of a straight back, whereas stools lacking back support promote a sitting posture that fits the natural curve of your spine. This, combined with the fact that stools make it impossible to slouch, makes stools the better option for your back and health.
Now to explain these points in more detail, here’s how stools are superior to chairs for spine health:
Strengthens Core Muscles
With even the most comfortable chairs, we tend to end up slouching if we sit on them for too long. Office work usually requires you to sit in one position for several hours a day.
This can be problematic as, according to multiple studies, sitting in the same spot for hours on end without moving plays a major role in the development of musculoskeletal disorders in the neck, back, arms, legs, and shoulders. Chronic lower back pain, which is the most common form of back pain, is prevalent in 23% of the global population.
Chairs, unless they are expensive ergonomic-style chairs or kneeling chairs, don’t promote the proper posture for sitting. Even with ergonomic chairs and kneeling chairs, there are still chances of you developing pain elsewhere and your posture going from bad to worse.
This is where stools come in. Stools don’t provide any support to the back or arms. They prompt whoever is sitting on them to engage their core muscles more. This in turn strengthens the lower back and abdominals, which has postural and health benefits.
When sitting on a stool, there is a larger chance of falling, so people naturally avoid slouching, and this helps to maintain better balance and posture. On the flip side of this, stools are more uncomfortable for some users, especially at the beginning when these underdeveloped core muscles need to adjust to an increased workload.
Chairs keep your back straight up at a 90-degree angle with your legs, and although this sitting position has been promoted for years, we can all admit that it is a bit uncomfortable and unnatural to sit in. Even if you try and sit in this position for a while, it is natural to find yourself slouching after a bit of time.
Stools, on the other hand, keep your back in its natural curve; they don’t force it to be unnaturally straight or uncomfortably stiff. Your body relieves some of the pressure from your muscles and positions itself in a naturally better way. When you are seated in a higher position on stools, your thighs and knees are naturally kept below your hips. This is the proper sitting posture that can help get rid of back pain.
Research shows active sitting directly impacts productivity. It promotes a more focused environment and better concentration.
Chairs don’t promote active sitting and are often linked to increasing the amount of fatigue and stress a person experiences. After spending a whole day sitting in a chair, people have been said to have higher levels of back pain and tiredness as compared to stool. This is because chairs keep you in a static position for a long time. This leads the way to musculoskeletal disorders.
Stools follow all the rules in the book to promote active sitting. They don’t bind your legs in one position and keep them moving. They also keep your body free from any unnatural 90-degree angles. You strengthen your core and back muscles and develop a conscious habit of keeping your posture right.
There is no denying that posture and back pain have a close relation. Good posture can keep any problems in your joints and muscles from arising anytime soon and rid you of pains and aches over time.
We have already seen how sitting in chairs is the key cause for many people developing back pain. Yes, some chairs are better for your back pain and can help reduce or even relieve it, but with most chairs that are accessible and affordable to the common public, that is unfortunately not the case.
Since stools naturally keep you in a good posture, they are also better for your back pain, and they help to alleviate some of the tension and stress on your muscles. Sitting is indeed being called the “new smoking,” but with stools, you can reduce the problems caused by it to a bearable degree or even get rid of them all.
As mentioned previously, your productivity increases with active sitting.
Chairs are known to put people to sleep and give them little to no stimulation. The lack of movement also decreases the amount of oxygen reaching your brain and your blood flow. At any rate, sitting down is not productive at all or good for burning calories.
Movement has been naturally linked to better cognitive functioning and greater productivity. The higher your stool is, the better it is for you. It will keep your legs on a downward slope, and it will also keep them suspended. This allows for more activity and free movement and increases the oxygen going to your brain. You can think better and enhance your performance.
You will also have better posture while you work, which will further increase your engagement in work-related activities. In this way, you can become much more productive by using stools as well.
Good posture improves blood flow throughout the body.
Static sitting can greatly constrict the blood flow to some parts of your body. This is what can cause aches, pains, and other complications further down the road. This is another reason why chairs and static sitting is bad for you.
The active sitting position you attain thanks to stools also increases the blood flowing to your brain and organs. Your organs don’t scrunch up and stay aligned. You feel better on the inside and outside, and your resilience to a tough day at work increases. You don’t feel as tired at the end of the day, and you can focus better.
Best Postural Tips for Sitting On Stools:
The negative effects of bad posture are often severely underplayed. It’s not just that good posture can help you avoid back pain and look better; bad posture has been linked to several other disorders and disadvantages too. There isn’t one good thing to come out of it.
So for a long and healthy life, here are some good posture tips you should try to implement.
- Don’t cross your legs or knees.
- Keep a distance between the end of the stool and the knees and position them to be slightly lower than the hips.
- Keep your elbows in an L shape and your forearms at a 90-degree angle with the floor if possible.
- Sit up and look at your screen or book without straining your neck. Position yourself so that you don’t have to look down to look at the screen and can stare at it with your head straight.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed.
- Your ankles should be in front of your knees.
- Provide the most support to your lower back region
- Don’t sit for too long and alternate between positions from time to time. Try to keep moving or take a 10-minute break for every hour of work you put in.
- Keep your feet on the floor and avoid dangling them. You need to keep them supported properly as well.
After a detailed comparison, the results show that stools are much better for posture than chairs, and they promote a healthier and more active posture which not only increases the blood flow and oxygen going to your brain but also keeps your organs in shape.
You should probably decide to use stools while sitting and working at your office for a healthier lifestyle, unless you have specific health issues that warrant against it.