Since 1993, pretty much 365 days a year, I have spent an average of 10 hours sitting in front of a computer. Many of you are probably in the same boat. It’s not until I came to Vancouver that I started researching the “perfect chair”. Books such as The Chair by Galen Cranz and The Breathing Book by Donna Farhi were eye-openers for me. One thing I’ve learnt is that the perfect posture doesn’t exist. Or rather, as Cranz says, the perfect posture is… the next one.
Healthy mind and body are all about movement, so the first thing a desk chair for long-term use should do is support you comfortably, and let you easily switch between several different postures.
Unless you are an established meditator (I’m not) or just all-around very fit in body and mind (I’m not) you probably twitch and slouch in your chair. You’re not concentrated, or maybe your back hurts.
Now, many chairs like “The Leap” by Steelcase or Herman Miller’s “Aeron” boast sophisticated ergonomic features. To me they look and feel too plastic. Not so as you sit onto the memory foam and contoured seat of a Lifeform, with half a dozen different handles within reach for adjusting the chair’s to every possible angle imaginable.
Ahh, memory foam, is there anything it can’t do? Being pressure and heat sensitive, memory foam conforms to individual body shapes. This spreads your weight to a larger surface area, reducing pressure points that cause cut-off blood flow. The effect is further enhanced by the contoured seat, which also acts as a bump preventing the tendency to slide out and slouch. Blood circulation is increased not only from the reduced pressure points, but from the deeper breathing allowed by a more upright position, encouraged by the lumbar cushion and forward tilt features of the Lifeform. Sitting with an erect spine at about 115 degrees to your thighs is supposed to be the ideal posture both for your spine and for concentration. While most chairs do not come with a seat that can be tilted forward, Lifeforms lets you do that at ease. You can either fix the position or let it rock back and forth.
(Actually, a kneeling chair is probably ideal for such perched sitting, as it also redistributes some of your weight to your knees. But these are taxing for long-term computer work. You want to lean back at some point, and the knees may start to hurt.)
The Lifeform also lets you tilt backwards the seat and the backrest independently, pivoting on the front area of the seat pan. Such a reclining position not only takes some pressure off your hip area, but allows blood to return to the heart easier. You may have noticed that as recline, your heart rate goes way down, which is essential for rest. The Lifeform, in many ways, gives you the best of a recliner and a kneeling chair, with an infinite combination of adjustments in between.
Based in Calgary, the company manufacturers and sells its chairs exclusively through “Relax the Back” stores. Lifeform was originally founded by Danish immigrants to Canada, who used to make saddles. This tradition has evolved into producing what may be the most truly ergonomic human-centered chairs around, ones that come with a lifetime warranty.
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