Arm Rests

Written by Sierra Rein
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The main purpose behind arm rests is to relieve the pressure of gravity from the shoulders, neck and upper back by providing a ledge for the elbows and forearms to rest upon. Arm rests can be found in almost every ergonomically-designed office chair as well as executive chairs, automobile seats, and school desks. However, not all arm rests are designed with comfort in mind.

Some arm rests can only be adjusted in vertical and horizontal positions. Advanced arm rests can be tilted forwards and backwards and swivel on its axis along the horizontal plane as well. To be considered ergonomically positioned, the arm rests should be adjusted so that the arms are placed in an open angle (100° to 110°) while typing. The forearms should rest easily on the work surface and allow the back and shoulders to relax in a comfortable 90° angle.

The best arm rests are padded with gel or upholstered cushions. The soft surface disperses the weight of the elbows and allows the person seated to lean a bit more heavily than he or she would on a hard arm rest. On the other hand, if too much pressure is placed on these cushions, it may be a sign that the person is seated incorrectly--if this is the case, he may have to reevaluate how the arm rests are situated.

Arm Rests for Computer-Savvy Users

Many office chairs now come with computer mouse trays built into the arm rests. These are good options for individuals who spend a long time at their computers, as they can alleviate a lot of excessively repetitive movement (like reaching forward to work the mouse or trackball). Computer mouse trays can reduce the possibility of developing a repetitive stress syndrome (RSI) as well as a number of other back, neck and shoulder pains. Instead, the computer user can lie back in the seat, place his forearm on the arm rest, and use the mouse just as if it were positioned on the desktop.

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