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At the end of the day, many office workers stand up and with a scornful look at their computer desks, wander from the office with the discomfort of tightened muscles and cramped spines. Each such sufferer thinks longingly of days when the discomfort of the office might be eliminated in favor of a hammock or bed. While hammocks and offices may not be such a good match, there are innovations in office ergonomics, which are revolutionizing the way people look at their desks and chairs.

From 1984 to 94, Repetitive Stress Injury compensation claims rose 770%, with an average claim running approximately $43,000 according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc. Reducing the risk of such dangerous, and potentially debilitating injuries can be accomplished with a solid understanding of ergonomics and by creating an office (at home or work) environment that encourages proper posture, positioning and comfort.

There are three essential principles to ergonomics and these are:

1) The need for multiple, safe positions in which to sit and operate is paramount.
2) When force must be exerted by an individual, it should be done with the largest appropriate muscle groups.
3) All joints should be maintained, for as long as possible, at the mid-point of their range, especially those of the head, trunk and upper limbs.

Deviation from these rules contributes to unhealthy working conditions that will lead, over the course of time, to unfortunate (and avoidable) physical trauma. In addition to the physical devices, which can be used to reduce the danger of improper ergonomics are several techniques. The Feldenkrais and Alexander techniques, for example, can both help improve posture, breathing and coordination in ways that will reduce the possibility of repetitive or long-term stress injuries. Yoga and Tai-Chi have similar capacity and add physical exercise, which strengthen muscles and improves flexibility as well.

But such techniques are not always sufficient. For this reason, human ingenuity has been applied to the problem of working ergonomics and has developed such devices as are possible to reduce the physical strain of working and amazingly improve the comfort of office life.

The Aeron chair by Herman Miller is the result of intensive studies into the human body and represents the finest in office ergonomics. Winner of the Design of the Decade (1990s) award of Business Week and the Industrial Designers Society of America (ISDA), the Aeron chair has so many comfort-enhancing features that it seems more like a luxurious throne than an office chair.

Designed by Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick, the Aeron chair undergoes load testing by 20,000 drops of a 200 pound weight at various locations to insure its strength and durability as well. It's durability, however, is not what makes the Aeron chair so unique.

Because humans come in different sizes, the Aeron chair comes in three different sizes, all of which can be adjusted to fit a particular user. This means that there is an Aeron chair that will fit nearly everyone alive. The Kinemat tilt mechanism with tension adjustment allows for comfortable weight shifts while the vertically and depth adjusting lumbar pads assure the user of proper back support, reducing spinal trauma and increasing comfort. Even the arms can be adjusted individually allowing for height and pivot adjustments based upon the user's size and intent (mouse/keyboard use, etc).

As skin temperatures can increase by as much as 20% in foam padded chairs, Stumpf and Chadwick designed the amazing Pellicle suspension system. The Pellicle material distributes weight and promotes air circulation. It even comes with a five-year guarantee to not fail. It is the Pellicle suspension system that truly distinguishes the Herman Miller Aeron chair from other high quality designs.

Although it comes with a hefty price tag, the Aeron chair can eliminate thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost wages. At the same time, it will assuredly give each worker a newfound sense of comfort in the office and a chance to get up and head home with head held high, rather than bent with discomfort and stress.