Sunday, November 26, 2017

My quest for the Holy Grail of chairs

I sold my beloved Herman Miller Aeron chair last night. I was sad to see it go, but the Aeron could not keep pace with my body's remarkable capacity for deterioration.

I sat on the Aeron at an old job and loved it, so much so that I paid $1300 for one for my home desk. But it never felt quite the same. Maybe the one at work was worn in better, or maybe its supernatural comforts were all in my head, tricking me to stay at a job that was sucking my soul dry. For whatever reason, it didn't work out between the two of us, and now the Aeron is just another carcass in what is becoming a vast chair graveyard.

There's lots of bodies buried in there. Kneeling "chairs." Exercise ball "chairs." Ergonomic fucking super chairs. Amish kitchen-table chairs. Adjustable chairs wrapped in felt for traction. Dining room basic-bitch chairs. (And yes, I've tried standing desks, but those are not chairs.)

Of course, no chair can solve my problems. My chronic pain issues go back to birth, so I'll probably always struggle with disc herniations and hip pain. But the right chair can make a difference. Case in point: the Örfjäll/Sporren. It's from Ikea. Of course it is. Why do I bother shopping anywhere else?

I bought it on the weekend. So far, so good. This chair works okay for me because I can sort of hitch my lower ribs over the back of it, which keeps my spine elongated. (That's a hot tip I got from the Gohkale Method.) Plus I can roll my shoulders back, which is hugely important. All sitting is rough business, though, and no chair will ever be perfect. But I'm hoping the simple, common sense ergonomics of this chair will help me power through the winter writing.

Of course, getting up from a chair is the most important thing. Just stop writing every 25 minutes and stand and stretch, Saso, gawd. I also do this stuff called Foundation Training. It's been a lifesaver, literally. The rehab exercises Eric Goodman has come up with -- plus the brilliance of my rehab trainer Nicole -- have made a huge difference. I'm not normally one to spread the gospel, but I see so many people in the world struggling with back pain, especially writers. This program may be worth checking out.

My advice for back pain sufferers is this: Listen to your body, work on your posture, learn how to breath, get up and move, and don't feel hopeless --- you can get better. Oh! And don't spend on your chair what you should spend on your mortgage.


  1. I've tried some of Esther Gohkale's methods. The stretch lying and shoulder roll worked for me, but I couldn't master the funny walk or the back-hitch sitting method that you are trying. I always ended up kind of slipping down.

    Lately, I've been using a HAG Capisco chair, which kind of does the hitching for you, or at least stretches out your back. Whatever you think of the chair, at least the video is fun:

    1. I end up slipping down too. Every time. And then I hitch myself back up. If I throw my yoga mat over the chair that helps. Gives some extra traction. But then I get bummed out that I'm sitting on such a ridiculous contraption.

      Love that video. Haha. Curious about that chair. I must try one. Amazing that it does the hitching. Thanks so much for sharing it with me, Lex. I need all the chair help I can get!