BackCare charity highlights the problems of sitting for long periods

During this year around 30 million people in the UK will experience back or neck pain. There are many causes of these debilitating conditions including sedentary lifestyles and spending hours working at a desk, often aggravated by poorly designed chairs.

Dr Brian Hammond, Chair of BackCare, said: “One solution for back and neck pain sufferers is to use chairs that provide support for the spine to minimise strain.  BackCare is keen to promote and endorse furniture companies that design and manufacture chairs that adapt to body movements and support various body shapes and sizes.

“The charity is delighted to endorse a number of chair manufacturers producing ergonomically designed chairs which help improve the seated posture. So much time is lost through people suffering back pain and products that help to decrease pain and improve quality of life are to be welcomed.”

Mike Brewster, Status Seating’s sales director, said: “People often suffer from back pain after sitting in offices for long periods on unsuitable chairs.  Our chairs are designed to optimise people’s postures and health and well-being.  BackCare’s endorsement is clear evidence of the importance of the design and manufacture of furniture that supports the spine”.

Status Seating will be exhibiting their chairs and other products at The Back Pain Show, organised on behalf of BackCare at St Andrews Stadium, Birmingham, on Friday & Saturday 19 & 20 May. Entry to the show is free by registering at www.thebackpainshow.co.uk where details of all exhibitors and the free-to-attend programme of speakers and presentations can be found.

BackCare is the leading UK charity for people and organisations affected by back pain, as well as professionals involved with treating back pain sufferers.  It aims to significantly reduce the burden of back and neck pain by providing advice, guidance and information on preventing and managing back pain. www.backcare.org.uk

Ergosomatonomics

The shape of future individuals

There are now several scanning techniques employed to create 3-Dimensional imaging or Whole Body Surface Anthropometry. However, the TC2 body scanners used by “Size USA” or the white light BVI scanners used at the University of Aston in association with Select Research will eventually result in a bank of real statistical data that will be representative of all types of individuals dependent on body shape– not an inferred statistical assumption. The data is being collected to provide indicators of potential illness or disease and is used extensively by the UK National Obesity Centre at Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham, but is equally useful in considering furniture design or selection.

These new techniques are measuring the body including the soft tissues – an existing science known as Somatometry – and creating a new set of predictable natural laws for understanding body shape – Somatonomics. International research will continue for some years yet, but for now there are just tantalising glimpses of what the ergonomic seating sales foot-soldiers and ergonomic assessors have known for many years:

  • Individuals do not always have classical (average) body proportions.
  • In general the action of sitting for women is different from men due to physiology.
  • Body Volume displacement is different between gender, ethnicity and occupation.
  • As we reach middle age our body shape changes due to spinal degeneration and Body Volume distribution.

These issues do not change the need for all individuals to require a comfortable back support when sitting, or that movement is always better for the body than long periods of sitting, but it creates a challenge for designers to identify the specific needs of an individual rather than fitting the individual into a chair designed for the average user.

In a world where individuals are working for longer, sitting for longer, and subjecting our bodies and minds to increasing stress it is ever more important to find the right work chair for the individual.

FutureThe science of understanding an individual’s personal body shape and how it can affect the interaction in his or her personal working environment is upon us. It is more than Ergonomics. It is Ergosomatonomics.

It might only be a few years before employers are placing orders for an ergosomatonomic chair to suit an individual subject of pre-determined BVI Body Type F14T-PAC, (or some other such categorisation), that may mean nothing to us today, but will define a person’s gender-specific body shape, life expectancy, insurance category and credit risk.

Ergonomic seating is only average

It is estimated that during the course of an average office worker’s career he or she will have sat in more than 3 but less than 15 different types of office chairs. Statistics don’t actually tell you much really. Some workers stay in the same job for many years and develop a personal attachment to their office chair. Others move between jobs.

Over decades office chair design has been driven by the need to comply with adjustable functionality based on Anthropometric guidelines. These averaged body and limb measurements obtained from small samples of evenly-gendered subjects from the UK (or more recently from sample data collected around Europe, or in some studies aggregated from data sourced from around the World) set the limitations on component and product design. We are supposed to accept that statisticians can predict a standard deviation around the mean average of a small sample population and that the guidelines will suit 90% of office workers. That is the basis on which the minimum standards are calculated.

Even in the USA, the hotbed of much of the 3-Dimensional anthropometric modelling research that has driven ergonomic seating design into the 21st Century, seating adjustability has been calculated on a sample of only 4431 individuals compiled from studies across the US and Europe. The resulting industry norms, through the application of inferential statistics, have led to the creation of products purporting to suit the mass market – the 5th to 95th percentiles of an inferred normal distribution.

However, at the sharp end, when you are up close and personal with the individual user, things can often look and feel very differently.

The vast majority of office chairs, designed specifically to fit the guidelines, allow for only the standard deviation of adjustability. In reality there are many individuals that are not average. The effect of only matching standard international guidelines for chair design is that the specific needs of individuals are obfuscated during the average measurement process.

The challenges of allowing for adjustability for a user’s height, for longer or shorter limbs, may have been taken into account when designing the chair, but what about body mass, body volume, or the natural laws of gender, ethnicity, age, proportion or well-being?

What about the personal stature, shape or combination of shapes that makes the human being the individual? What about the physical displacement of the person’s body volume? This deeply affects our personal interface with the office chair, has no statistical link with body height or limb length and can adversely affect our sense of comfort or support whilst sitting.

If you have ever been out at the coalface talking to people about their personal chair nightmare you will know that every individual has a different story, a different sub-set of problems, a different body shape; a different solution from the average.

Body Shape Assessment and ELBV

For many years seating companies and DSE assessment companies have focussed on the limb measurements of individuals in order to influence or suggest the selection of a particular combination of seat pad size, backrest heights or armrest adjustment levels. Indeed, this practice has resulted in the creation of indicative average (anthropometric) measurements in order to determine the “correct” sizes for the purposes of the creation of norms.

However, limb measurements are implicitly 2-dimensional – point A to point B – without a true relation to other more 3-dimensional characteristics. This is particularly true when assessors try to measure individuals with unusual body proportions caused by the distribution of their body volume.

Implicit in the process of limb length measurement is the need for the user to be seated. This brings new and unexpected implications to any recorded measurements. This is particularly the case for individuals who possess a higher level of body volume at the rear, large thighs or large calves. We can refer to this as a user with “Excess Lower Body Volume”- ELBV.

Users with ELBV often demonstrate a longer popliteal (buttock to inside knee) length due to the additional body layers at the rear. This body volume distribution can also result in heightening the position of the body on the chair so that the position of the lumbar is also raised. There is also a possibility that the popliteal length is reduced because of the body volume at the rear of the calf that corresponds with the position of the front of the seat pad.

The purpose of these examples is simply to illustrate that it is often an understanding of the 3-dimensional interaction of a user’s Body Shape that influences the correct size or “fit” of chair for the individual, rather than a simpler assessment based on 2-dimensional measurement.

In 2013, Status adjusted its Anthropometrical Data Sheet to include an indication of body shape, also adjusting its assessment sheet to be known as a Body Shape Assessment Form.

Limb measurements are important, but having a more representative indication of a person’s shape helps employers to find a chair that is more likely to be a “fit” for the individual.

Click here to download a copy of the Status Body Assessment Form from our website.

Cervical Spondylosis 

Symptoms of cervical spondylosis include neck pain and shoulder pain. The pain can be severe in some cases. Occasional headaches may also occur, which usually start at the back of the head, just above the neck, and travel over the top to the forehead. Pain usually comes and goes, with flare-ups followed by symptom-free periods. Around 1 in 10 sufferers develop long-lasting (chronic) pain.

Other, more severe, symptoms usually only occur if you develop:

  • cervical radiculopathy – where a slipped disc or other bone pinches or irritates a nearby nerve
  • cervical myelopathy – where the spinal canal (bones that surround and protect the nerves) becomes narrower, compressing the spinal cord inside

Cervical radiculopathy

The most common symptom of cervical radiculopathy is a sharp pain that “travels” down one of your arms (also known as brachialgia).

You may also experience some numbness or “pins and needles” in the affected arm, and find that stretching your neck and turning your head makes the pain worse.

Cervical myelopathy

Cervical myelopathy occurs when severe cervical spondylosis causes narrowing of the spinal canal and compression of the spinal cord.

When the spinal cord is compressed, it interferes with the signals that travel between your brain and the rest of your body. Symptoms can include:

  • a lack of co-ordination – for example, you may find tasks such as buttoning a shirt increasingly difficult
  • heaviness or weakness in your arms or legs
  • problems walking
  • less commonly, urinary incontinence
    (loss of bladder control)
  • bowel incontinence (loss of bowel control)

If you think you are experiencing symptoms of cervical myelopathy, see your GP as soon as possible.

Left untreated, cervical myelopathy can lead to permanent spinal cord damage and long-term disability

Source: NHS Choices

2016 Price List

Dear Customer

The team at Status is pleased to have been able to reduce the prices of many of the options available for our highly adaptable Humanfactor range which, for many models, will result in us being able to maintain 2015 prices overall or even offer a slight reduction in RRP.

Other retail prices for our more basic Status model ranges have been raised by around 2% on average depending on the model combination. This has mainly been due to increases in upholstery fabric prices.

A hard copy version of the Issue 2 price list is currently being printed and will be in circulation very shortly.
We thank you for your business and look forward to a successful 2016.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any enquiries at our offices in High Wycombe where our team will be happy to help.

Yours Sincerely

Simon Barrett
Managing Director

Humanfactor

The Cpod® backrest system has crept into the market, but is finally being recognised as an exciting new way to assist individuals with sensitive back complaints, and specifically with lower back injuries, pains or sciatica. The more that it is exposed to the market the greater the number of enquiries (and orders) that we receive. So what is it about the Cpod® backrest system that makes it so different and original?

Firstly, it’s an interesting combination of shapes – a little alien to some sensitivities, a magnet to others – the mesh backrest with supporting straps is transparent in both form and function; it is immediately evident that the straps are there for a purpose. But it’s when a chair with this backrest is seen from the rear, or even more so from a profile view, that the backrest imposes itself visually.

The Cpod® backrest consists of a stretched woven mesh that has proven to be suitable in 24/7 situations and for persons weighing in excess of 150kg, but by its inherent nature it also offers a degree of stretch that embraces the body mass as you sit back into the chair.

Stretched across the carbon fibre frame are 5 lateral support straps positioned adjacent to the likely position of the sacral, lower lumbar, upper lumbar, lower thoracic and upper thoracic areas of the spinal vertebrae. The straps bolster the back support at each of the locations and help to ensure a good posture whilst simultaneously stretching to match your body shape.

Whilst you relax and luxuriate in the nature and quality of support that the backrest is affording you there is always time to reflect on the other features of this award-winning design:

  • At each location the straps can be strengthened or released to increase the tension of the body support. Without any additional torsion the mesh backrest can feel quite loose, but by simply lifting and releasing the patented ratchet torsion levers on the right hand side of the backrest it is possible to personalise the backrest to the user. A firmer lumbar but slack sacral support is often the combination of choice for those with lower lumbar or sacral pain. A quick-release button allows the ratchet to be released.
  • Imprinted in the frame are the letters A to E from top to bottom to indicate the location of each ratchet and these positions are similarly indicated in braille.
  • A specific multi-adjustable Cpod® padded headrest is available as an option.
  • If the user moves their back laterally – from side to side – the point of weight absorption changes across the backrest in all 5 of the straps in accordance with the type of movement. To help stimulate this dorso-kinetic movement of the backrest, it is held in pace by three rubber joints.
  • This type of sitting support is very comfortable, promotes good movement and weight absorption for the spinal column – nourishing discs and allowing blood flow to the back muscles, providing muscle relaxation and energy renewal.

For more about the Humanfactor and Kurum chairs that contain the Cpod® backrest system please contact your local sales representative, or Status Customer Services on 01494 768870, or via e-mail on info@statusseating.co.uk

Slipped Discs

A slipped disc – known as a prolapsed or herniated disc – occurs when one of the discs that sit between the bones of the spine (the vertebrae) is damaged and presses on the nerves.

This can cause back pain and neck pain, as well as symptoms such as numbness, a tingling sensation, or weakness in other areas of the body.

The sciatic nerve is often affected in cases of slipped disc. It is the longest nerve in the body and runs from the back of the pelvis, through the buttocks and down both legs to the feet.

If pressure is placed on the sciatic nerve (sciatica), it can cause mild to severe pain in the leg, hip or buttocks.

Read more about the symptoms of a slipped disc.

The spine

The spine consists of 24 individual bones called vertebrae that are stacked on top of each other.

In between each vertebra there are protective circular pads of cartilage (connective tissue) called discs, which have a tough, fibrous case that contains a softer gel-like substance. The discs help maintain your back’s flexibility and wide range of movement.

The spinal cord is highly sensitive and passes through the middle of the vertebral column. It contains nerve cells and bundles of nerve fibres that connect all parts of the body to the brain.

What causes a slipped disc?

A slipped disc occurs when the outer case of the disc splits, resulting in the gel inside bulging out of the disc.

The damaged disc can put pressure on the whole spinal cord or on a single nerve root (where a nerve leaves the spinal cord).

This means a slipped disc can cause pain both in the area of the protruding disc and in the area of the body controlled by the nerve that the disc is pressing on.

It is not always clear what causes a disc to break down, although age is a common factor in many cases. As you get older, your spinal discs start to lose their water content, making them less flexible and more likely to rupture.

Smoking also plays a role as it causes the discs to lose their natural flexibility.

It’s important to note not all slipped discs cause symptoms such as pain, weakness or tingling. Many people will go their whole life and not know they have a slipped disc, even though they have one.

Read more about what causes a slipped disc.

Diagnosing a slipped disc

Your GP will usually be able to diagnose a slipped disc from your symptoms and medical history. They may also carry out a physical examination to test your:

  • posture
  • reflexes
  • muscle strength
  • walking ability
  • sensation in your limbs

Read more about how a slipped disc is diagnosed.

Treating a slipped disc

It can take about four to six weeks to recover from a slipped disc. Treatment usually involves a combination of physical therapy, such as massage and exercise, and medication to relieve the pain.

Surgery to release the compressed nerve and remove part of the disc may be considered in severe cases, or if the pain continues for longer than six weeks.

In many cases, a slipped disc will eventually shrink back away from the nerve and the pain will ease as the disc stops pressing on the affected nerve.

Often the slipped disc will stay pressing on the nerve, but the pain goes away because the brain learns to “turn down the volume” on the pain messages coming from the nerve.

If you have a slipped disc, it is very important to keep active. Initially moving may be difficult, but after resting for a couple of days you should start to move around.

This will help keep your back mobile and stop the joints becoming stiff and the muscles that support the spine becoming weak. Keeping moving will speed up your recovery.

Any exercise you do should be gentle and not put too much strain on your back. Exercises that involve high impact, such as running, jumping or twisting, should be avoided at first as they may cause a flare-up of the pain.

Read more about treating a slipped disc.

Preventing a slipped disc

Taking a few sensible precautions, such as leading a healthy lifestyle, can help prevent back pain and lower your risk of getting a slipped disc. For example, you should:

Read more about preventing a slipped disc.

Lumbar spine illustration

slipped-disk-status

1. Healthy disc
2. Nerve
3. Slipped disc
4. Damaged disc
5. Spinal cord

How common are slipped discs?

Slipped discs are most common in people aged between 30 and 50 years old. The condition affects twice as many men as women.

Slipped discs often occur in the lower back. While around a third of adults in the UK have lower back pain, fewer than 1 in 20 people have a slipped disc.

Source: NHS Choices