About Computer Chairs

Purchasing the right computer chair has proved to be a challenging task for the community. Many people are regularly experiencing neck and low back pain with established postural problems, as a consequence of using an inappropriate chair.

Statistics demonstrate that about 80% of office workers over a 5 year period will call a Chiropractor, Physiotherapist, Osteopath or Massage Therapist to treat an injury sustained from sitting in an office chair. Injury rates increase steeply, if the chair that the individual is sitting in for their 40-50 hour week has not been ergonomically set-up properly.

The computer chair must provide specific and precise postural support; not just comfort. Purchasing from an expert in spinal health is a superior option to purchasing from a sales person, who naturally has good intentions, but lacks the sophisticated education and training to prescribe correctly.

Human time line de-evolving

Office Worker Injuries at a Glance

Musculoskeletal injuries (involving muscle, bone, nerve, disc, tendon and ligament tissues) within the workplace account for around two thirds of all injury occurrences. Low back injuries account for around half of these.

Statistics vary, but office workers with musculoskeletal injuries account for around 5-15% of all musculoskeletal injuries, which is a lot of suffering people. There are also those office workers whom are injured, but do not report.

While office work may seem relatively low risk, there is health issues associated with the use of computers. There are three broad categories.

  1. Neck and back pain due to prolonged sitting, with an ergonomically undesirable chair. (This category dominates).
  2. Repetitive strain injuries to the upper limb. Eg, Carpal Tunnel injury or elbow tendonitis.
  3. Eye strain: Glare or inadequate lighting resulting in eye fatigue, blurred vision or headaches.
Lady with a bad back
Lady with a sore neck

Benefits of Highly Ergonomic Computer Chairs

An ergonomically advanced computer chair, rated 4 or 5 stars, will improve your sitting posture. Its adjustability and support will allow the operator to maintain their natural spinal curves, which subsequently reduces spinal disc pressure.

The operator will experience:
  • Lengthier time periods of comfort.
  • Reduction in fatigue.
  • Improved work efficiency, productivity and overall work quality.
  • Reduction in injury rates, e.g. back pain.
  • Reduced chance of early spinal degeneration.
  • Less worker absenteeism.
  • A happier, rewarding working day.

Read more on Ergonomic Office Chairs...

Lady happy to be working at her ergonomic desk

Reasons for Replacing your Current Computer Chair

  • The chair does not appear to support you properly.
  • The chair is uncomfortable.
  • You're experiencing symptoms when sitting such as headache, neck or low back pain.
  • Your body is undergoing postural changes: e.g. Shoulders rounding and/or mid back hunching.
  • The seat pan or backrest is the incorrect size, that is, too small or large.
  • Your weekly seating hours have increased dramatically and the chair is not advanced enough.
  • The chair is broken or too old.
  • The chair is not adjustable enough.

Criteria for purchasing a computer chair

Often, the decision is based on price, style and look, materials used, delivery/pick up time frame and quality etc. At FFB, we regard the two criteria listed below as being critical in determining whether you should purchase an entry level or advanced chair.

  • Pre-existing state of Spinal / Postural health.
  • Hours per week usage.
Spine conditions
Business man incorrect desk

Scenario 1:

If you are concerned or suffer from some kind of postural / spinal health complaint
You are required to sit in a computer chair for the majority of the day.
Advice: Purchase a 4 or 5 Star Ergonomically Rated Advanced Chair.
Why: Injury progression is high or the initiation of an injury is high.

Scenario 2:

If you are not concerned and do not suffer from any spinal / postural health complaint
You are required to sit in a computer chair for only a couple of hours a day.
Advice: Can purchase an entry level computer chair with Ergonomic Rating from 2 Stars onwards.
Why: Injury development is unlikely.

The concept of ERGONOMICS

What does the word 'Ergonomic' actually mean?

Medical Dictionary: The applied science of equipment design, as for the workplace, intended to maximize productivity by reducing operator fatigue and discomfort.

What does an Ergonomic computer chair mean?

In broad terms, it implies that the chairs design is advanced to some extent, thereby assisting the operator to sit more efficiently, compared to a simple designed entry level chair.

Why do most computer chair retailers advertise their products as being 'ergonomic'?

Whether the chair is mildly or heavily ergonomic, it assists with the sale of the chair.

Is this advertising misleading?

Yes. The public are frequently purchasing chairs that are inappropriate for their spinal needs.

How do we assist the public, so that the term is not misused?

The computer chairs ergonomic value must be quantified. To assist consumers, Furniture for Backs has provided their computer chairs with an ergonomic rating.

The scale is as follows:

  • Very Low - Star Rating
  • Low - Star RatingStar Rating
  • Moderate - Star RatingStar RatingStar Rating
  • High - Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
  • Very High - Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Ergonomic Sitting

How to Set-Up your Computer Chair

  • Firstly, set the computer chair up for the operator, then…
  • Secondly, set the desk up for the operator and the computer chair, then…
  • Thirdly, set the accessories (keyboard, mouse, monitor, phone etc) up for the operator, the computer chair and desk.

Depending on how adjustable the computer chair is, will determine how effective the chair will be in complying with the operator’s body shape & posture.

Step 1: Seat pan tilt. Generally most operators will begin with the seat pan horizontal to the floor. If the chair allows, tilt seat pan backwards or slightly uphill, so that front of seat pan is marginally higher than back of seat pan. This will prevent operator’s buttocks from sliding forward due to the uphill angle of the set pan. The operator can assume a more consistent posture.

Step 2: Seat pan height. Adjust the seat pan height so your feet are flat on the floor and your knee joints are angled at around ninety degrees. The operator should sense, at the back of their thigh (hamstring region) a sense of evenness with no excessive pressure in any particular point.

Step 3: Backrest height. Needs to be positioned so that the lumbar support section on the front of the backrest, marries in with the apex of the operators lumbar curve. Its height dependant, therefore shorter operators will adjust it to a lower level, whilst taller operators will adjust it to a higher level.

Step 4: Backrest Reclination angle. Adjust the angle of the backrest to around 100°-110°. The idea is to lean against the backrest and transfer your upper torso body weight onto it. This will reduce the weight and therefore pressure applied to the lumbar region, in particular the discs.

Step 5: Arm Rest Height. With your elbows at 90 degrees by your waist side, adjust the armrests so that they just touch the elbow/forearm surface. From here, simply elevate armrests further by half an inch. This will take pressure away from the shoulder girdle.

Step 6: Guard the Chair. Once the chair has been adjusted for your body requirements, make sure no-one disrupts this positioning.

Adjustable chair angle
Adjustable chair seat
Adjustable chair back
Adjustable chair back angle
Adjustable chair armrest

How to Set-Up the Desk, Computer and Accessories

Desk:If your desk is height adjustable (electric), then you’re in luck. The reality is that most desks are not height adjustable. Unless you’re an operator of average height you will have to compromise the chair seat pan height. Either down or up to establish an ideal desk height, which allow the forearms to sit naturally.

For example:

Shorter people may have to raise the seat pan height to reach the desk. Their feet may not be firmly on the ground, therefore a foot stool maybe required for leg/foot support. Tip: If possible, cut or trim the legs of the desk to achieve suitable height.

Taller people may have to lower the seat pan height to sit with the desk surface. This will require them to extend the legs out further to ease the buttock pressure. Tip: Raise desk onto blocks to achieve suitable height.

The operator’s ‘Reach Envelope’ is the area on the desk that the operator can reach easily with their hands, without having to lean forwards or to the side. It’s roughly a semi-circle formed by both the operator’s hands, whilst the back remains leaning against the backrest. Items such as the keyboard, mouse, telephone and other accessories that are utilised regularly need to be located within this arc-like area.

Keyboard: Should be located on the desk, directly in front of the operator. The position of the keyboard in relation to the operator’s hands is determined by their inherent body dimensions. With the operator’s elbows positioned at the sides of their trunk, the keyboard should be located directly under the eventual hand position.

Mouse: Located directly in front of the operator, but slightly to the right or left of the keyboard (depending on your handedness). Remember: Elbow at side, then mouse under hand & don’t reach.

Monitor: Should be positioned on the desk, directly in front of the operator.

The monitor’s height is relative to the operator’s eye level, whilst they are sitting correctly. Parallel to the ground the monitor should be located so that their eyes bisect around three quarters up the screen. That is one quarter above and three quarters below. Exception: Operators utilising bifocal glasses will have to lower the monitor accordingly, but ensure the head is not dipping, only the eyes.

Depending on the operator’s eyesight, the monitor can be positioned at around one arms distance from the operator’s fingertips, whilst sitting correctly.

Various height desk

Operator Sitting Behaviour

Now that the chair and work station is set up, the operator needs to know how to sit in the chair. 

Key considerations are:

Sit on the seat pan, and whilst leaning slightly forward at the trunk, push your buttocks as far back as you can until the buttocks wedges into the space where the backrest and seat pan merge. Why: Allows the operator to maintain the natural lordotic curve of the lumbar spine.

Lean upper body against the backrest (Not forcibly, but with a soft lean). Why: Transferring upper body weight onto the backrest, reduces lumbar disc pressure.
Use foot stool if you are a shorter operator, or if you simply prefer to use one. Why: Prevents the operators’ buttocks from slipping down the seat pan and assists blood flow up legs.
Operator to position chair so that their stomach gently touches the front of the desk. Why: Prevents operator from leaning forward/slouching their upper body.
Elbows/forearms need to be supported: At the front edge of the desk surface or the arm rests, or both simultaneously, depending on the operator’s body shape or personal preference. Why: Takes pressure away from shoulders and allows upper body to be pushed back a little.
The forearms, wrists & hand’s need to be used in a neutral or parallel position: Not heavily flexed or extended. Why: Reduces any unnecessary pressure on the carpal tunnel, where nerves & blood vessels travel through to the hand.
Sitting at desk

Other Key Points

  • Don’t slouch… Operators, despite utilising a suitable computer chair that has been ergonomically set up for them, will often continue to slouch. We must be educated how to sit up correctly. This is more important if you are utilising a substandard computer chair.
  • Get up regularly… Operator’s must not sit for too long. Our bodies rely on regular movement. Muscles require blood flow. Spinal discs require nutrition, which can only be met when we move. Leaving your desk regularly means every 20-30 mins depending on the individual’s needs. Regular breaks from sitting are recommended with standing, walking or lying.
  • Mouse usage: Swap hands… As an injury prevention measure, it is good practise to regularly use the mouse with your non-dominant hand. This gives the dominant hand a break from its repetitive over use. Tip: Spend 5 minutes a day over a few months building the required co-ordination for the non-dominant hand to become efficient.

About Mattresses

The mattress is the most used piece of furniture in the household. In fact, one third of your entire life is spent lying on one. All health care professionals advocate that adults require around 8 hours of high quality sleep per night to maintain our wellbeing.

Many people underestimate the value of high quality sleep for their wellbeing. Rest & recuperation is simply more important now, compared to the past. Our daily work demands are increasing dramatically. Whether your energy is used for the employer, the kids or both; we are all working longer, more intense hours. By the end of the day, we feel fatigued. The correct mattress will assist in replenishing this lost energy.

Health care providers are bombarded daily with patients suffering from spinal injuries because of their usage of an inappropriate mattress. Poor posture cumulatively develops due to insufficient spinal support when sleeping. Those initial aches and pains, if not attended to early, will eventuate into permanent spinal degenerative change, in the years to come.

Lady sleeping in bed

About the Mattress Industry

The general public have traditionally purchased mattresses from large retail stores. There are literally hundreds of these larger retailers, all of whom are claiming to sell the best mattresses backed up by expert advice. The general public is faced with several problems making mattress selection very difficult:

  1. Stores have too many mattress options due to their overextended range and sales staff are obligated to demonstrate most of them.
  2. All retailers sell the same categories of mattresses; however it’s difficult to compare one mattress product in one store with another product in another store. Most mattresses have been rebadged and renamed, simply to differentiate their products from other stores. It’s very confusing. Unfortunately, most consumers do not have the time or energy to research the products, so it becomes guess work.
  3. Mattress sales people also lack the knowledge required to understand complex health complaints, particularly spinal conditions. This is a serious dilemma because mattresses are not a cheap purchase. Purchases can’t be justified on comfort alone; postural/spinal support is equally important. This requires specialist medical attention, particularly for those individuals whom have undergone some spinal surgery or whom suffer from other complex body problem.

Retailers attempt to manage this huge problem, simply by claiming that their product range has undergone scientific studies. In most cases, this is false information and is simply a marketing exercise. Claims that a mattress is “orthopedic” or “medically-approved” should be viewed skeptically. There has not been extensive medical research or controlled clinical trials on the topic of mattresses and low back pain etc.

Some retail stores have endorsements from health care organisations that support a particular mattress range, only because the health care organisation receives a ‘kick-back’. Once again it helps retailers with improving credibility and helps to justify selling overpriced mattress products.

  • Retail stores are large, noisy and do not allow for privacy. Mattress selection is difficult when other shoppers walk by and stare at you as you are lying down. This environment forces you to evaluate the mattress range too quickly. This invariably results in shoppers purchasing the wrong mattress, or alternatively simply walking away from the mattress store confused.
Bed salesman
Testing a mttress

The benefits of sleeping on a new mattress?

There are a number of health benefits when purchasing a new mattress:

  • Improved sleep quantity & quality.
  • Better recuperation leads to improved energy.
  • Better spinal & body support means reduced aches, pains and stiffness.
  • Preservation of body posture and alignment.
  • Better hygiene.
  • Improved immune health & wellbeing.
  • Overall, a better night’s sleep.
Woman sleeping on a new mattress

When do you need to replace your mattress? Check list.

  • Are you finding it difficult to fall asleep?
  • Do you toss & turn at night?
  • Are you waking in the morning tired?
  • Can you regularly sleep 8 hours per night uninterrupted?
  • Is the mattress 10 years & older?
  • Does the mattress support your spine properly, or is it sagging?
  • Does your mattress cause low back, neck or shoulder pain & stiffness when sleeping?
Replace your old mattress

About Spring mattresses?

Spring mattresses utilize tempered steel coils in a variety of configurations, with layers of upholstery insulating your body from the spring unit.

The factors below will determine mattress performance, durability, support & comfort.

  1. The number of springs: There are approximately 300 coils in a double bed, 375 in a queen- size and 450 in a king-size.
  2. Spring shape:
    • Hourglass-shaped springs are used in the original inner-spring system, called the Bonnell System. (Picture)
    • Continuous coil springing is made from a single length of wire shaped into a system of coils. (Picture)
    • Pocket-spring mattresses consist of a grid of approximately 1 inch springs, each in their own fabric pocket. (Picture)
  3. Wire gauge: The thicker the wire, the more durable the wire. Thicker wire also possesses a lower gauge number. Eg 14 gauge.
  4. Active turns: The more turns, the softer the bed and the longer the springs will last because the work is spread around.
  5. Distribution of springs: Known as ‘zoning’, there are firmer or softer springs located in specific parts of the mattress.

Read more about Pocket Coil Mattresses...

bonnell spring
continuous coil
pocket spring
mattress zoning
Bonnell Spring
Continuous Coil
Pocket Spring
Mattress Zoning

Latex Mattresses

Latex is the most common non-sprung mattress on the market.

Facts / Benefits / Properties

  • Health care professionals highly recommend latex mattresses.
  • Spinal support is more consistent and longer lasting compared to other mattress varieties.
  • Maximum body surface conformation, therefore reducing pressure points.
  • Partner disturbance is almost non-existent.
  • No springs to make noise. Hence, they are noiseless.
  • ZONING: Different sections of the mattress have greater and less support to assist with precise body support.
  • PIN CORING is paramount. Are small holes (vents) located throughout entire mattress that provides air flow for cooling purposes; reducing heat build-up.
  • Are natural, biodegradable products better suited for the environment.
  • Sleeping hygiene is superior due to inherent antimicrobial and anti-bacterial properties.
  • Allergy sufferers (asthma, hay fever) benefit from its hypo-allergenic properties.
  • Should not have layers of cheap foam or fillers to compromise the quality or durability.
  • Weigh significantly more than sprung varieties (Approx 80kg for Queen size).
  • Available as Tight Top, Pillow Top and Gusset Top options.

Read more about Natural Latex Mattresses... 

latex mattress

About Mattress Upholstery, Quilting & Ticking

The comfort layer of the mattress is the section between you and the springs or latex core, and comprises of two layers.

  1. The ‘ticking’ is the external surface of the mattress. This fabric can be made up of silk, cotton or wool amongst others, all woven with a particular stitching pattern - which will get covered up with a sheet!
  2. The bulk of the comfort layer is the internal insulating layer which will vary in composition and thickness. Manufacturers will vary these fillings. The better the filling, the longer the mattress should last.

Mattresses generally have three comfort layer options:

  • Tight Top – Firm feel with small comfort layer built in.
  • Pillow Top – Medium feel with larger comfort layer added on.
  • Gusset Top - Plush/Soft feel with very large, thick comfort layer added on.
Firm - Tight top mattress
Medium - Pillow top mattress
Plush - Gusset top mattress
Firm - Tight top
Medium - Pillow top
Plush - Gusset top

How many hours of sleep do you need each night to remain healthy?

With sleep, experts will tell you that there is no "magic number." Not only do different age groups need different amounts of sleep, but sleep needs are also individual. While you may be at your absolute best sleeping seven hours a night, someone else may clearly need nine hours to have a happy, productive life.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult sleeps less than seven hours per night. In today’s fast-paced society, six or seven hours of sleep may sound pretty good. In reality, though, it’s a recipe for chronic sleep deprivation.

There is a big difference between the amount of sleep you can get by on and the amount you need to function optimally. Just because you're able to operate on seven hours of sleep doesn't mean you wouldn't feel a lot better and get more done if you spent an extra hour or two in bed.

How much sleep do you really need?
Age Sleep Needs
Newborns (0-2 months) 12 to 18 hours
Infants (3 - 11 months) 14 to 15 hours
Toddlers (1-3 years) 12 to 14 hours
Preschoolers (3-5 years) 11 to 13 hours
School-age children (5-10) years 10 to 11 hours
Teens (10-17) 8.5 to 9.25 hours
Adults 7 to 9 hours

What are the best positions to sleep in?

Great Option: Flat on your back with your arms by your sides and your legs out straight. Make sure you use a low pillow. High or multiple pillows can compromise neck alignment no matter how you position your body. This can result in neck, shoulder and back pain, as well as headaches and potentially migraines.

Great Option: On your side with your top arm by your side or behind your body, to open up your shoulders. Avoid snuggling both of your arms into your chest as this places your upper spine into a hunched position, creating rounded shoulders.

Poor Option: On your stomach with your neck turned to one side. If you regularly sleep in this position you run the risk of neck injury. The low back region in this position is also compromised, as it is held in a hyper-extended position. You need to train your body to sleep on its side or back.

Which is better: Slats or a Base?

In short, it does not matter. As long as both options are supportive and don’t bend or slump. Have your partner initially lie on the mattress, and then have them lightly jump on it, whilst the other partner views them at the foot end of the bed and at ground level. You will see whether it’s supportive or not.

mattress slats

Mattress Size

Single 92cm x 188cm 3’ x 6’2
Long Single 92cm x 204cm 3’ x 6’8
King Single 107cm x 204cm 3’6 x 6’8
Double 138cm x 188cm 4’6 x 6’2
Queen 153cm x 204cm 5’ x 6’8
King 183cm x 204cm 6’ x 6’8


Shopping for the right pillow is an essential part of building your perfect sleep system. The wrong pillow will reduce your sleep quality and quantity.

Although the pillow, compared to the mattress, is much smaller in size and far less expensive, it still requires careful consideration. Just as your mattress should provide good support for your body, your pillow should give you the right cushioning and support for your head and neck. The position of your head and neck when sleeping needs to be similar to that when you’re standing. For this to occur, the pillow needs to fill the exact space between your body surface and the mattress surface.

As a general rule, it makes sense to utilize a contoured pillow, as it will inherently support the head & neck more efficiently. Health care providers recommend this pillow variety strongly. However, there are those individuals whom have tried them and can’t sleep with them. The only other option is to use a traditional flat type.

Question: Are you predominantly a side, back or stomach sleeper?

Side Sleepers: The space between your head and the mattress surface is greater therefore you require a thicker pillow (relative to your size).

Back Sleepers: The space between your head and the mattress surface is less therefore you require a thinner pillow (relative to your size).

Stomach Sleepers: The space between your head and the mattress surface is the least therefore you require a very thin pillow (relative to your size). Health care practitioners don’t recommend this sleeping position, as it compromises the cervical & lumbar spine. However, if this is the only position whereby you can sleep effectively, then so be it.

pillow shape

Special needs of children?

It’s simply not good enough to purchase a single size mattress that has pictures of animals on it, and pass this onto your child. More consideration is required, so let’s look at the facts.

  • Kids are shorter in height than adults and therefore do not weigh as much.
  • Their bodies are very flexible.
  • Like adults, kids require adequate recuperation from a busy day’s study/sport activities and need to replenish. Sleeping hours range from 10 to 15 hours depending on their age.
  • Due to rapid growth patterns and brain development, children require much more sleep than adults, therefore are lying longer.
  • Their immune systems are generally not as strong as adults and are susceptible to infections, allergies and sensitivities.
  • Correct spine & postural alignment is required as they grow.
  • The head & neck region requires specific support from a contoured pillow.

Tip: Kids love to jump on sprung mattresses. There is no bounce on a latex variety. Mattresses with a Pillow Top or Gusset Top profile will damage with obvious impressions when repeatedly jumped on; therefore the Tight Top profile is preferable.

Tip: A mattress protector is a must: to improve hygiene, to avoid damage from water spill and to provide an extra layer of comfort.

Tip: Elevate the head of the bed slightly with a pair of 3 inch lifts. This will improve the drainage to the ear, nose & throat. (Warning: don’t lift up head end of mattress as it may damage the mattress & create a bend in your child’s spine).


The best recommendation for children is a latex mattress tight top with 5 zones.

Best size for longevity is King Single, to allow for the extra growth years.

Latex contoured pillow.

Age to go from cot to mattress: 2-3 years.
child sleeping

Care for your mattress.

Turning your mattress:To help preserve the quality of your mattress, it should be repositioned every three months to ensure that the mattress is evenly worn. This means rotating it 180 degrees.

Mattress Protector: A mattress protector is a product that fits securely onto the mattress of your bed.

Mattress protectors not only keep your mattress stain free, but they also help control allergies and protect against dust mites. It's important to make sure the mattress protector is waterproof. Stains and spills can easily happen, and having an extra layer of protection will provide some security for your mattress.

Since the mattress protector keeps your bed clean, it can get pretty dirty itself, so make sure it's machine washable. Washing a mattress protector is significantly easier than cleaning a mattress. Machine washing is also important for controlling allergies and asthma. Since you can't really wash your mattress, using a protector that can be removed and cleaned is an easy way to remove dust and dead skin cells. A protector will also keep dust mites and bacteria from causing health problems.

A mattress protector is ordered in the same size as you would purchase sheets (queen size etc).

Base or Bed Slat support: Ensure your base or bed slats are structurally sound and are supporting the mattress. Any sagging of the base or slats will reduce the efficiency of the mattress and its lifespan.

Don’t jump on it: Get a trampoline.

Mattress Protector

Why FFB does not have a trial period!

When it comes to buying most things, money-back guarantees are typically a good thing. But do you really want a mattress that someone may have used for several weeks? Straight off the bat, you should know that major bedding manufacturers do not allow retailers to return mattresses just because they didn’t feel good. So any retailer offering you the chance to return a mattress after you’ve given it a test run is almost certainly putting returns back into inventory and selling them as new. Just the thought is enough to keep you up at night.