The use of a physioball is common at your local gym or physical therapy clinic for rehabilitation and strengthening/wellness. But over the last few years people have been using them as their main chair/seating at their desk as a replacement for an office ‘task’ chair.
One of the most common reasons voiced by users, is that it allows them to ‘move around’ while seated. Unfortunately in doing so, the user tends to sit for prolonged periods of time, decreasing circulation while in essentially a ‘static’ position. When a ball is used as an office chair, a person will fatigue quickly having to hold themselves up, causing them to slump or change their position into one that is not considered a neutral posture.
Additionally, unless the ball is fully inflated, the user will ‘sink’ into the ball; this will position the pelvis forward and prevent a person from being able to sit up straight, causing them to hunch over. A ball ‘chair’ also has a tendency to roll out from under a person as they transition to sit or stand. It is not height adjustable, so it cannot be fitted to the individual user, and due to the lack of adjustability it cannot meet the needs of the user to position themselves (or maintain) into a neutral posture while seated.
The only way to ensure the user is getting the support needed throughout the day while seated is having a ‘task’ chair that allows the user to adjust the height of the chair, the seat pan angle and depth, along with the seat back angle and height- to customize their position for achieving a neutral posture. And the best way to feel the benefit of ‘moving around’ is to get up and move/walk around for 3-5 minutes of every hour seated. This increases blood flow, oxygenates the muscles and research shows a person is more productive and efficient doing so, to name a few benefits.
So, despite the benefit a physioball can provide when used at a gym or physical therapy clinic, it is not recommended to use all day as an office chair; the risk factors far outweigh any short term benefit they might provide.
For more information on office and industrial ergonomics, products and furniture, including ‘task chairs’- you will find additional articles on the JR Ergonomics Blog.
If you would like more information on setting up your workstation ergonomically, choosing the right chair or have other ergonomic questions or concerns, feel free to contact me via email or phone. Jennifer Rappaport, MOTR/L, CPE • 503-380-5550 • firstname.lastname@example.org