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Will Furniture Design Improvements Reduce the Ageing Population’s Back Pain Issues?

Back pain is a major health issue, which costs the exchequer an estimated £5 billion per year. Approximately 10 million Brits suffer from back pain, according to the British Pain Society. So, if you’ve experienced it, you’re not alone.

Chair Design: From Function to Comfort

Chairs have evolved from prestigious models like the Windsor or the Barcelona chair to the everyday beanbag chair or comfortable armchair recliner. Historically, manufacturers made chairs to serve utilitarian purposes before becoming objects of art. In some ways, they’ve taken on symbolic qualities of power and status.

But chairs have also been responsible as a contributor to back pain, primarily because of poor design that has encouraged bad posture. Even the act of sitting itself has been scorned, with some evidence linking it to health issues such as obesity and heart disease.

photo taken by Steve Halama

Poor Furniture Design

Poorly designed furniture fails to provide adequate lower back support. Sitting on furniture of this type will lead to back pain. Other problems with design ignore the normal curvature of the spine. This type of furniture has a straight back, forcing the user into an unnatural sitting position.

As people age, they naturally become more sedentary. Unfortunately, the lack of activity results in muscle atrophy and weaker abdominal and back muscles. Inadequate lumbar support becomes evident quickly in individuals who don’t exercise regularly.

The Future of Furniture Design

Future furniture design can address the issues that contribute to back pain, especially in aging populations. It can attack these problems on several fronts, including the design and even the function of furniture.

Ergonomic Furniture Design

Furniture with an ergonomic design provides superior comfort by allowing for customisation. You can adjust heights of different elements so that the furniture fits you and suits your body type. Design patterns follow the natural curves of the human body to avoid creating pressure points that can lead to back pain.

Alternative Seating Choices

Alternative designs can alleviate back pain while providing additional health benefits. For example, a standing desk addresses the problem of sitting for too long by keeping users vertical. A standing desk on a treadmill offers the opportunity to burn extra calories whilst being an efficient way to multi-task.

Manufacturers and designers of furniture have the chance to make sitting more comfortable as well as reducing the risk of back pain in older adults. Designs that complement the human form offer the best ways to prevent pain before it becomes an issue.