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Chin Med J (Engl). 2012 Oct;125(19):3505-8.

Effects of backrest density on lumbar load and comfort during seated work.

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Department of Occupational & Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Peking University, Beijing 100191, China.



Seated workplaces have greatly increased in China. Many researchers have found that seated work is a risk factor in the development of low-back pain. Backrest can reduce the load on the lower back by transmitting more of the weight from the upper body to the floor via the backrest so as to prevent low-back pain. To design a suitable chair backrest for seated office work, some backrest parameters must be optimized. In this study, the role of backrest density on lumbar load and comfort were investigated. The goal of the study was to help establish criteria with which backrests that alleviate and prevent low back pain during seated office work can be designed and selected.


Twenty volunteers (10 men and 10 women) were seated in three backrest conditions (10 kg/m(3), 25 kg/m(3), and 40 kg/m(3)). Pressure data, including contact pressure (CP), peak contact pressure (PCP) and contact area were collected during 15-minute trial. Subjective data were collected after each pressure test.


Backrest density had a significant effect on backrest pressure variables. CP and PCP increased with increasing backrest density. Contact area decreased with increased density. In terms of user preference, the backrest with low density was most highly rated.


Backrest density plays an important role in lumbar load and comfort during seated work. During designing and selecting backrests, backrest density should be focused on so as to alleviate and prevent low-back pain during seated office work. Backrest density at 10 kg/m(3) got the lowest CP and PCP and largest contact area. Backrest with low density can reduce lumbar pressure and increase support contact area, which could raise comfort feeling. Backrest density at 10 kg/m(3) is better to maintain a balance between providing effective support and alleviating excess lordosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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