How to use a headrest (properly)

KC01 headrest

An ergonomic chair is designed to support your body so that you maximize comfort and efficiently, taking into account the health of your body. While many chairs are able to provide a good level comfort, very few will do this in a holistic way that touches on all the major parts of your body. What’s often missing is support for the headrest.

An average head weighs around 10lbs and when the head tilts forward or backward, the weight that your neck and spine effectively have to support multiplies. Even 15 degrees can add an extra 15lbs of weight, with every degree adding more and more weight. This is why it’s so important to keep your head as straight as possible, and your desk setup is an important piece of that.

So what happens when you want to rest your neck? This is where a headrest comes into play. A headrest is supposed to provide you with passive or active relief - passive when you’re not working, active when you are. A headrest will give your neck and spine much-needed relief so that you can continue a long day’s work, but many actually have no idea how to set it up and how to use it properly. Here are 3 tips to make sure that you're using your headrest properly:

1. Check to ensure the design and shape of the headrest are suitable for you by checking the height and width, curvature, and hardness.
Make sure the headrest is high enough and wide enough such that when you roll your head from side to side, your head doesn’t hit the frame. Then check the curvature to make sure it’s not flat and has a curve to it so that it can fit comfortably underneath your neck. Last, check that the headrest is soft enough to provide comfort but hard enough to provide support.

2. Make sure your headrest has the necessary adjustments: height and tilt.
Typically headrests have a height adjustment. This is to accommodate users of different heights and neck lengths so that the headrest can be positioned properly. Most headrests don’t have a tilt adjustment, so be careful to select one that does. Tilt adjustment is important so that you can fit the curvature into your neck. Be wary of chairs that have a high backrest which doubles as a headrest - these are more visual and / or temporary support, and don’t provide the long support that you might need.

3. Adjust the height so that the curvature of the headrest fits into your neck comfortably.
If the headrest is touching your shoulders or is only touching the back of your head, it’s not adjusted properly for you. Next, rotate your headrest so that it’s not too far away from you depending on your preference. If want a more active support so that you can have support while working, then rotate it forwards more. If you want a more passive support so that you can have support from time to time, then rotate it back more. A good headrest should be able to support both of these aspects.

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