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

Permanent Coccyx Cut-out

Status is not alone in offering the option of a “coccyx cut-out” for chair seat pads, but in 2015 we reviewed the suitability of our version of this option and looked at how a new construction might offer greater benefit for sufferers of sacral or coccyx pain.

For many years we had, like many of our competitors, physically cut out a hole in the rear of the seat. The seat pad therefore had a distinctive physical appearance. Some users advised us that this helped with ensuring that their personal chair could easily be identified, but others felt that this also stigmatised their workplace. Facility Managers also felt that it might lead to a “spare” chair if the designated user switched location or employer.

In order to ensure that there was a good finish to the seat pad Status also had to create a stitching trim around the cut-out section. There were also comments from users with very sensitive backs that they could feel this stitching when they sat down. Often the users might also mention that they  found the seat pad to be hard.

The standard Status Humanfactor seat pad consists of 5 layers:

  • A shaped, ply seat pan with upward pelvic support and downward waterfall front
  • A high density foam chevron branded as Probax® and designed to encourage an upright posture and a slight forward tilt, bonded to…..
  • A central core of standard CMHR foam of a density that allows good weight displacement in accordance with the size of the seat, bonded to…..
  • A layer of Vasco® memory foam for comfort.
  • The selected fabric

We realised that cutting out a shape in the ply and foam was a necessary requirement for a coccyx cut-out, but we somehow had to find a way of avoiding the stitching and creating more comfort.

Our solution since July 2015 has been to construct the seat pad as follows:

  • A cut out of the ply and standard seat pad foam combination
  • An extra layer Vasco® memory foam covering the whole surface of the seat pad
  • A layer of fabric covering the whole seat pad.

This solution gives us many advantages:

  1. Optically, the seat pad looks like any other
  2. On sitting, the rear of the pad gives way and compresses into the gap in the same way that a historical coccyx seat pad would. Additionally, the spine is not squashed into a hole, but gently supported by the additional memory foam
  3. The extra layer of memory foam gives a softer feel across the whole human interface of the user’s lower body and rear thigh – important for users that are mentally and physically expectant of nerve pain.
  4. By combining the seat pad with the Therapod™ or Cpod® backrest systems a sensitive combination of seat and back support can be realised.

For more information, please contact Status on 01494 768870, or via www.statusseating.co.uk

HF4 Chair with Cpod® Backrest

A high end ergonomic office chair designed to provide the best possible extended seating comfort and support.

The HF 4 Chair containing the Cpod® backrest system uses elastomer (elastic) mesh in combination with its patented back adjustment system to provide self-adjusting resistance that results in the optimal comfort and support that is unlike any other chair in the world.
Designed and engineered to allow the appropriate amount of flex without sacrificing support, intelligent detailing of the frame shape and profile along with rigorous material testing and selection has created a truly 3 dimensional dynamic movement system.

The interchangeable disc system has 3 semi-rigid pivot points between the chair frame and the chair spine. This allows for additional kinetic flexion in the backrest when a user twists or reaches.

Engineered to support
System Cpod® is a backrest system that has been set scientifically to a level of ideal spinal support. As the user moves in the chair or changes position, resistance through the hybrid of elastomer mesh and patented back adjustment changes to provide increased or decreased support. This eliminates the need for constant back support adjustments.

This patented hybrid technology gives the Cpod® backrest the unique feature of being the only “Sit and Use” Back Support system in the world. Whilst the “Sit and Use” feature provides support necessary for most users, some fine tuning may be done by using the in-built ratchet adjustment system. You should consider using the adjustment system only once and leave it set in the desired position.

At the heart of every Cpod® Backrest System
Cpod® backrest adjustment offers a combination of positions to fine tune your comfort and support should you need to do so. This adjustment takes place in 5 key zones of the back. In addition, the position of the 5 zones can be changed by moving the frame of the back up or down using the back height adjustment system. The combination of these adjustment features provides precise support from the sacral area (below the belt line) right to the upper thoracic (shoulder) area.

Support at the sacral area is vital in supporting the natural forward tilt of the pelvis. This support translates in aligning the spine and preventing slumping. Unlike other sacral support systems and pads in chairs that fill the void between the lower back and the seat of the chair, the System Cpod® support is unique as it provides support to fit each unique shape and offers the right amount of support as required.

Patented Mesh
The mesh that is used on the Cpod® backrest is a knitted elastomer mesh. It is softer and has elastic properties unlike the more popular woven mesh used in other types of mesh chairs. The knitted mesh provides a level of comfort and support comparable if not better than fabric with the added benefits of ventilation.

Dynamic movement
An adjustable disc system similar to the spinal disc has been incorporated into the chair design to allow 3 dimensional movements with the user.

The dynamic disc system is located between the frame of the chair and its central reverse Y fork. This allows for low resistance movement for turning at the shoulder where 1 disc is located and increased resistance at the lumbar sacral region where there are 2 discs. The increased resistance at the lumbar sacral region is to prevent back injuries as a result of twisting motions. If there is a need for reduced movement in the back, this can be achieved by simply tightening the assembly where the discs are located. This unique system works without the user knowing the chair is adjusting itself automatically to body movements.

Environmental
All 40+ components that constitute the Cpod® backrest are fully recyclable and meet the highest standards for environmental sustainability. Recycled components have been used in plastics up to the maximum limit which will not affect the strength of the chair.

The choice of plastics has been limited to those that produce no adverse environmental effects.

Plastics with low or no emissions have been used to ensure environmental and personal health best practice. The Cpod® System uses environmentally friendly solutions that don’t use toxic paints and colouring agents and yet produce aesthetic appeal.

An HF4 specification sheet can be downloaded from here

The Kurum chair also uses the Cpod® backrest system and a Kurum specification sheet can be downloaded from here

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