About 40% of all adults suffer from back pain. What are their options? Therapeutic chair manufacturer Adaptic and a team of physical therapists examined the effects of using a tilting-seat chair. Adaptic therapeutic chairs are designed to relieve back pain and exercise deep core stabilizing muscles. The study investigated the effects of Adaptic chairs on deep core stabilizing muscle growth and postural differences relative to standard ergonomic chairs.
The results are striking: Using a tilting-seat chair brought a greater patient benefit than rehabilitation or using an exercise ball. Ordinary ergonomic chairs do not provide the same benefits, and led to poor seated posture in 61% of participants.
What Is a Therapeutic Chair?
A therapeutic chair is an office chair with a tilting seat. The spring-mounted seat is slightly unstable, allowing the user to naturally activate deep core stabilizing muscles the entire time while seated. These muscles in turn keep the spine in its natural posture.
Adaptic is the Czech Republic’s only manufacturer of tilting-seat chairs. For 16 years now, the company has been active in healthy sitting research to help office workers relieve and prevent sitting-related pain.
Some 40% of All Adults Suffer from Back Pain. 200 of Them Participated in Adaptic‘s Study
"Back pain affects 40% of all adults, which is why we were keen to see how our therapeutic chairs can help," says Adaptic co-founder Jaroslav Kotula.
Adaptic commissioned a two-phase study to examine the physical effects of its therapeutic chairs. In the first phase, investigators followed 200 patients complaining of back pain, who were divided into 4 study groups:
● 50 patients in the control group did not change their prior habits
● 50 patients exercised regularly with physical therapist supervision
● 50 patients used an exercise ball
● 50 patients used an Adaptic tilting-seat chair in their office work
Investigators measured deep core stabilizing muscle mass on a total of 3 visits: at study start, after 6 months, and after 12 months. In the control group, the 6- and 12-month follow-up revealed generally the same or lower deep core muscle mass. "This was expected; unexercised muscles tend to atrophy," comments Kotula.
Rehabilitation Effects Are Temporary. Therapeutic Chairs Bring Lasting Improvement
The rehabilitation and exercise ball groups showed a moderate increase in muscle mass at the 6-month follow-up (up to 0.5 mm with rehabilitation, 2.5 mm with exercise ball). At the 12-month visit however, muscle mass had decreased again. Kotula believes this to be due to loss of motivation: "While patients have acute pain, they are motivated to exercise. Over time though, regular exercise or use of the gym ball become tiresome. As motivation to keep exercising deteriorates, so do the results."
Ultimately, using a tilting-seat Adaptic therapeutic chair brought the best results. Muscle mass kept increasing through the final follow-up at 12 months, by this time up to 3 to 6 mm. "You don’t need to be motivated to sit on a chair. You just use it as your office chair and sit on it every day as a matter of course. At the same time, the tilting seat allows you to keep mildly exercising the deep core stabilizing muscles, improving the posture of your torso. This way, your seated posture remains straight, reducing the load on your spine and avoiding muscle imbalances," says Kotula. "With an Adaptic chair, it’s basically impossible to sit poorly."
Some 61% of All Ergonomic Chair Users May Have Poor Seated Posture
The second phase of the study examined proper seated posture on a sample of 100 patients. For 3 months, 50 patients used an Adaptic therapeutic chair, while the other 50 patients used a standard ergonomic chair. The aim was to see what percentage of time each group spent in proper, healthy seated posture.
Investigators observed 4 different postures among the participants:
Position 1: "Straight posture, back free" (Picture 1)
Position 2: "Straight posture, back resting" (Picture 2)
Postion 3: "C-shaped hunch" (Picture 3)
Position 4: "Slumped posture" (Picture 4)
"A straight posture is essential to healthy sitting. In this posture, vertebrae are naturally aligned and no part of the spine is being overloaded. When sitting hunched or slumped, on the other hand, the angles between vertebrae are too sharp, pressing on spinal discs and increasing the risk of herniation," comments Kotula.
Among the study participants using Adaptic therapeutic chairs, 28% were observed to sit straight with the back free, while 64% sat straight with back resting. In other words, a total 92% of participants maintained healthy, straight posture.
The results for the ergonomic chair group differed dramatically, with only 39% of participants sitting straight. The remaining 61% sat in postures that overload the cervical and / or lumbar spine and the postural muscles surrounding the spine, and that lead to muscle imbalances.
Ergonomic Chairs Are Passive and Therefore Inadequate
Adaptic’s Jaroslav Kotula provides a likely explanation for the high proportion of study participants found to have maintained poor posture on ergonomic chairs: "Even the best ergonomic chair can only passively guide you to the proper posture. As the stabilizing muscles are inactive on such a chair, this posture cannot be maintained for long, and eventually you either slump down in the chair or hunch over in a C-shape, leading to lower back and neck pain. Adaptic therapeutic chairs, on the other hand, are designed to activate the muscles that allow you to maintain proper posture."
Adaptic therapeutic chairs also allow the pelvis to move and the angles between vertebrae and spinal discs to remain natural, reducing the risk of herniation.
Mr. Kotula cautions that the results of the study cannot be generalized to all products with a tilting seat. The Adaptic chairs’ results are in part also due to a carefully calibrated tilt radius, spring weight, and arm- and backrest ergonomics.
"When you sit on an Adaptic chair, the seat only moves around fractionally. It’s not your whole torso tilting, only the core muscle groups. You also have the option of a relaxed position, which is important to prevent muscle overloading," he adds.
ADAPTIC at Orgatec 2022:
You can try out Adaptic chairs at the Orgatec trade fair, Cologne, 25-29 October 2022, Hall 8.1 | Stand: D001
ADAPTIC on YouTube:
Link to detailed report of the study:
A detailed report of the study summarized above may be found at Using a Therapeutic Chair More Beneficial than Physical Therapy - https://www.adaptic.cz/en/health-articles/using-a-therapeutic-chair-more-beneficial-than-physical-therapy
Mr. Jaroslav Kotula,
Adaptic Innovation a.s.
130 00 Prague 3
To the press compartment of Adaptic Innovation a.s.
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