Ergonomics continue to play a role in the workplace as workers complain of physical fatigue after being stationary during the workday. It’s easy to understand why the seat pan is the most crucial component of a comfortable and ergonomically functional office chair. Whenever the seat becomes uncomfortable you begin to squirm, sit improperly and lose the benefits of other chair features. Recently, leading office chair manufacturers reported that a contoured seat design was studied to be the most comfortable seat pan for long term sitting.
Office Supply distributors are beginning to retail office chairs from the major chair manufacturers that market a contoured seat with multiple foam layers that are varied in densities and thicknesses. This reduces the seat pressures where the highest pressure points of a person’s seated posture can lead to discomfort. The Ergonomic Center of North Carolina recently confirmed the benefits of mitigating seat pressure. The study proved that a contoured seat reduces seated pressure better than flat seats. The surface contact-weight distribution is reinforced due to the wrap-around effect in the thigh area which disperses body weight and pressure. The pressure pain from extended sitting can be associated with the Ischial Tuberosities, commonly called “sitting bones”.
Contoured seats that are padded with a full coverage layer of foam (2″ thick) as the main element also benefit if two other layers of higher density foam (½” thick) are used to absorb the highest pressure points of sitting. The high-density foam virtually eliminates “bottoming out” so common with the flat seat designs.
A differentiator for the contoured seat includes two unique recessed areas within the seat itself. The first recessed area is created with the heavier foam positioned further down to the bottom assuring the seat does not bottoming out. Ergonomic Specialists refer to this large recess as the “Ish-Dish” because it addresses the high impact of sitting on the Ischial Tuberosities. The second recessed area is at the back edge of the seat and creates the softest spot on the entire seat surface for the Coccyx (tail bone) area, known to be a very sensitive spot.
In summary, office workers do not have flat bottoms, so why buy office chairs with flat seats that do not fit the human body. A flat seat becomes uncomfortable the longer the person sits, so it may behoove a company in investing in office chairs with contoured seating for their staff.