We believe there is a gap between what many people want from an ergonomic chair and what the state-of-the-art can currently provide. Because even when adults try to sit well and use high-quality seats and well-adjusted work stations, tiredness and back pain is not far away, especially in high-strain areas like lab work and dentistry.
Ergonomics and back care experts say that the human body is not adapted for sitting for long periods. In our view the problem is not sitting per se, it is what we all do while we sit: intensive and continuous concentration on our work. Backlift is a new seating technology that was developed by reverse-engineering occupational strain, by looking at how mental focus affects physical posture we found a new way to help you to sit more comfortably.

Concentration pulls the head and back out of alignment The posture/concentration pattern starts young: when children focus on reading and writing, concentration dramatically contracts and collapses their backs, and they start to lean on chair backs and desks for external support. At Backlift we call this distortion pattern ‘Eyepull’, because concentration is like an unconscious, magnetic force on the eyes and head.

As we get older we usually sit a little straighter, but Eyepull still subtly drives postural contraction. The dynamic is so common it is easy to overlook, we don’t really notice people being pulled forwards into tiring, strainful posture as they stare at their screens: it just looks like everyday concentration. The way to make more comfortable seats and workstations is to help our backs to self support better – even when you focus hard. Backlift is a mechanism that fits in the seat pan that directly helps your back to work in an optimal way. It reactivates the anti-gravity reflex that powers the effortless good posture you see in young children, giving all-day comfort even in high-demand situations.

and good seats and proper ergonomic setup cannot fully prevent it.

The Eyepull model highlights the way concentration is stronger than good seat and workplace design. One of the foundation ideas (and great successes) of ergonomics is to have good sightlines and height-adjusted furniture. Obviously it is very helpful not to have to bend down/over in order to work, but major upper body strain can happen even when you sit straight and have optimal horizontal sight-lines. Because yepull doesn’t only happen when you look downwards. The image right highlights how concentration unconsciously pulls the head along the sight-line. The person here is sitting quite straight and using an eye-level monitor but she is still strongly pulled towards the screen, making her forward head position much heavier for her back to support.

Eyepull also reduces the effectiveness of saddle/standing seats and standing desks. The advantage of elevated seats is they are dynamically similar to standing, so the lower and mid back tend to stay comfortably aligned when working. But again the upper body is pulled along the line of concentration with every working angle and posture, making hard work for the back.

This kind of displacement strain is not a problem that can be helped by a different seat or changing the monitor position. When we work we concentrate, and when we concentrate we unconsciously contract and pull ourselves out of shape, which makes Eyepull very difficult to consciously change. However, Eyepull has an Achilles Heel: of course we need to focus to do our work, but we don’t need to have a contracted posture in order to focus. The change in your back is a passive side-effect and there is a simple way to stay in better shape while you work.

If you keep your back slightly more expanded than Eyepull passively contracts it then concentrating will not pull you out of shape. affect your posture. It is a net/general effect: if your back stays generally expanded then it will naturally and effortlessly self-support itself. There is no need to think about good posture – like you see with young children it innately happens. Your back is designed to work well, it just needs the right physical conditions.

The principle of Net Expansion > Contraction is the basis for most postural and muscular rehabilitation techniques. We developed a mechanism that builds the dynamic directly into the act of sitting. So all the time you sit for work you stay optimally expanded: not enough to distract you from your work or tire you out, but enough to counteract the passive pull of concentration.

Backlift is not a seat design, it is a compact, universal mechanism that fits into the seat pan, and can work with almost any existing design with very little adaptation. We have developed the technology with the support of Prof. Jerome Rotgans, an expert in Dental Ergonomics. The Backlift self-support effect is particularly helpful in high-focus/high-strain area like dentistry and lab work where people have to concentrate continuously and sit upright, but it helps with all-day comfort anywhere.

For presentation purposes we have added the Backlift mechanism into typical/generic seats and also into a platform for using at standing desks. The shape of the seats don’t reveal how they feel: the mechanism is internal and it works directly in your back. We are made for sitting to be comfortable and we retain the ability to sit in a similarly easy, unforced way. With Backlift you don’t sit ‘soldier straight’ but your back is more comfortable being more upright. Perhaps the greatest advantage of Backlift is that you don’t notice your back even when you work hard because it stays all-day comfortable – even when you concentrate hard.

Perhaps the best how Backlift feels can comes from seeing how easily young children sit, , because it is how our backs are designed to feel. As we grow up concentrating on study and work often overrides this, but a little gentle physical expansion can reset the balance. Seat design companies and back care experts stress the importance of sitting well, but without actually saying how: the importance of Backlift is that it practically makes it much easier to do so.

We hope to find a seat manufacturer to combine good seats with self-generated good posture and take working comfort to a new level. Words and pictures can only say so much, so this is an invitation to get in touch and experience the difference for yourself.