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Ergonomics. 2000 Mar;43(3):421-33.

Dynamic leg volume changes when sitting in a locked and free floating tilt office chair.

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Department of Vascular Diagnosis and Research, Surgical Clinic, Aker University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.


It is well established that prolonged sitting may lead to swelling of the lower extremities. However, activation of the vein pump system by repeated walking breaks or dynamic tiltable foot-rests have been shown to reduce foot and leg oedema. Some office chairs incorporate tilt mechanisms facilitating movements of the body from the feet up. The present study was undertaken to establish whether a beneficial effect on the transcapillary fluid balance of the legs by enabling such mechanisms could be documented. An office chair where the tilt mechanism could be locked or open was used for the study. The seat position and seat activity level was recorded by a transducer system developed for the study. Calf volume and calf muscle pump activity was detected by mercury strain gauge plethysmography. In the locked position there was a steady increase in volume of mean = 1.2% (range = 0.8-1.8%) for all participants in the 30-min study period. On the other hand, for all participants there was a decrease in calf volume (mean = 0.7%, range = 0.1-1.2%, p = 0.008) when the tilt mechanism was open (30-min period), irrespective of what study period came first. The study showed that upward seat deflection was not associated with concomitant venous obstruction, since such obstruction was detected in less than 2% of the time period with more than 50% of maximal upward deflection. A locked seat mechanism does not prevent activation of the vein pump mechanism, but the study indicates that office chairs that permit variation in seat angle per se stimulate movements of the leg. This, in turn, activates vein pumps and counteracts local oedema formation in seated working postures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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