Back in Action Blog

Why Don't We Sell Mesh-Seat Office Chairs?

Published on  – 7 minute read

Our advice, built up over 30 years, is to avoid sitting on chairs with a mesh seat while working at a desk. 

Yet it’s easy to find other opinions   Ergonomists, health professionals, and sitting experts like us often disagree?   Why?  

Let’s start by stating our own position and how we arrived at it. 

Here at Backinaction we have concluded that sitting healthily at a desk or table, especially for high concentration tasks and work, requires that the base of the pelvis is supported by something very firm.   

“Very firm” Includes high-quality foam, or adequately padded wood, but definitely doesn’t include a mesh or hammock-style of seat... nor any form of sitting with springs and it.

To explain :- when the base of the pelvis is firmly supported, and the user is prepared to spend a couple of days learning to take advantage of that, then the spine and neck above the pelvis aligns easily and effortlessly leading to greater movement, greater variety, and a dramatic increase in alertness and sense of well-being. 

Most people will agree this picture shows near perfect posture and poise .. the body is in movement too with the neck perfectly balanced and the sitter doing some muscle work to genrrate heaslrth but not enough to be too much through a working day      .   at the end you can reveal what type of chair is being used…

When the base of the pelvis is not supported firmly then it tries to fall over backwards,  just like this wall is falling over because the foundations aren’t good enough. 

That piece of wood is there as an emergency to hold the wall upright, but long term the answer is to correct the foundations. People just don’t deliberately build walls with weak foundations and then install pieces of wood to keep them from falling over!!!!

So a soft seat that gives inadequate foundations is equally silly.  The pelvis WILL fall over and a backrest WILL become essential.  But its an answer to a problem that should not have existed and I has consequences… it traps the lower part of the back against a backrest, even a backrest with a perfect shape, and pokes the neck forwards.  Together this restricts movement which leads to muscle decay, circulation problems and a drop-in energy level. 

You might want to know how we can be so sure of this.  And the answer is because way back in the 80s we did lots of research and ever since we have learned more and more from our customers by noticing which types of chairs solve significant back issues. 

The counter agreement often put forward by ergonomists and some health professionals is that support under the pelvis is not necessary because the backrest of the chair is the vital part, controlling the person's shape whilst requiring no skill or understanding on the part of the sitter.    But since that view of the world became established back in the 1950s the epidemic of back pain has grown and grown and there is no evidence we've seen the Lumbar support approach works as well as the pelvic support approach.  On the contrary, the majority of people who contact us about needing a chair to be back pain are already sitting in something with good lumbar support!... but because the seat underneath them is too soft they are sitting in a curled position with the head poked forwards, the lungs compressed, and the ligaments at the back of the spine stretched too much. 

It would be understandable if you ask how come so many thousands of economists and health professionals could continue to support an approach that we believe leads to ill-health.    We certainly don’t think it’s because they lack caring. They will be passionate about the quality of their work.  We think however there is one fundamental difference. If we sell a chair and it doesn’t work we end up with a bad review and probably a chair back. In addition to our own research and our very caring attitude as a company, we exist with the acid test of consumer results.  It is in our interest to find the solutions that work best, to teach people the best way of using them, and it’s all very little interest to us if laboratory research indicates the opposite of our customers. That would just cause us to doubt the research. 

Health professionals, on the other hand, tend to rely almost entirely on theoretical conclusions or on what their patients tell them about things. They very rarely carry out their own user-based research. 

There is another factor: companies don’t like staring up demands for large expenditure so companies have always resisted allowing any professional advice into their organisation that implies that they should change their approach to sitting.  . One bank once told us that if they allowed the truth to get out they would have to change over 10,000 chairs!   Is it surprising if the experts that companies by Ian have remained supportive of the conventional approach to sitting that they are paymasters wish to continue with? 

So... you are free to make your own choice, but here’s our challenge to anyone out there within the corporate world.  Take any department that currently use his lumbar support as their primary method of sitting and let us instruct the department in active healthy sitting whilst you place them on Cheers with firm support under the bottom that support movement and variety. Paragraph if you don’t get an improvement in staff well-being and staff energy levels we will give £1000 to charity 

Take any department that currently uses lumbar support as their prime method of sitting and let us instruct the department in active healthy sitting whilst you place them on chairs with firm support under the bottom that support movement and variety. Paragraph if you don’t get an improvement in staff well-being and staff energy levels we will give £1000 to charity