Why Sitting is a Pain- Daisy Horr

As the group continues venturing forth in the design aspect, we have researched tremendous amounts of information around the study of chairs and possible designs for chairs. We have seen chairs made of foam, chairs made of rope, chairs that are circle and chairs that are square. Aesthetically, these chairs have a mass appeal, especially in it’s retro-style fashion. Yet as the biomedical and technological researcher, it has been my job to understand why our bodies react to sitting, and especially prolonged sitting, in a negative way, and so we have had to cut many beautiful ideas in favor for the ones that made us healthier.

Now why is sitting such a pain, when it’s meant to be the one thing that a person uses for comfort? The answer is that chairs fail to accommodate the human body. The ideal position for a person sitting, is back straight, neck resting easily on the human spine. The reality is more than often not this, instead high schoolers and even office workers find themselves in a slumped position, a position where their back, neck and bottom are constantly strained in an awkward position against the unaccommodating chairs they often find themselves sitting in. With constant bashing and distaste for sitting down, such as new trends like the stand-up desk, there seems to be a war on sitting, and for good reason. Sitting sedentary for long periods of time is unhealthy for a person, just as eating excessive amounts of MsDonald’s, or watching television 24/7, anything you do in overload is damaging to the human body and mind, so it doesn’t make entire sense to completely do away with sitting. A Time magazine article titled, Is Sitting Killing Me?, gives tips on how to avoid sitting for long periods of time, such as ditching chairs for standing, standing in subways, and removing wheels on chairs. While I agree sitting for too long is damaging, that doesn’t mean we should ignore the issues chairs have with accommodating to our body set-up.

A similar topic of sitting vs. standing appears in the Washington Post under an article titled, Standing Up at Your Desk May 

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 10.15.09 PMEnergize You, But it May Be Tough on Your Legswhere writer Sydney Trent, undergoes an experiment to see whether standing up at her workplace would improve her state of sluggishness and night pains. She explained that she indeed felt much more rested as a result of this experiment, but soon she experienced pains in her calf and a numbness in her right foot that led her to be examined by a doctor who proclaimed that she had been standing up too much at work. Trent learns from her experiment that “standing all day can be as bad as prolonged sitting.” 

From both stories we can see how excessive amounts of anything can be a bad thing. The Comfort4U team’s main objective is to provide comfort in the chair design that gives people the option to be comfortable at their own choice. We understand that beneficial chair designs can give people a break from the strains of life and allows them to be in an environment that can stimulate learning and attention without the annoyance of throbbing lower back pain or calf numbness. It’s true that taking a walk is much more healthier than taking a seat, but for those times you are unable to do so (such as in a classroom or office environment) we want to make you comfortable.

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