Chair crisis for COC’s full-time students

by Emily Mahler 1,060 views0

Katherine Wynkoop’s average day at COC involves moving around the Valencia campus to sit in multiple uncomfortable chairs for 10 hours.

“I always experience back pain from these chairs [and] I regularly need to lay down as soon as I get home,” Wynkoop said.

Including time studying and working on campus, a full-time student is sitting approximately eight hours a day in classes. These students, whether they are on the Valencia or Canyon Country school grounds, are faced with different chairs to accommodate classroom size and subject.

“It depends on which class I am in and the building because all the chairs are different and don’t accommodate to every student,” said accounting major Carolina Galdamez.

When she starts her day, she sits at the TLC in a rigid plastic chair. As she moves along, her seat becomes more and more uncomfortable. Until, that is, when she parks herself on a Wit seating chair, produced and designed by ergonomic office furniture company, Sit On It.

“If the classroom chairs are decent, you wouldn’t need to support your body, but if multiple people are sitting in the same chair, the seat might need to be adjusted to the next person,” Linda Hyman, a senior account manager at The Sheridan Group with 25 years of work experience in seating, said. “Providing you aren’t correctly positioned in your chair, there are many health risks,” 

“Low back pain is one of the most frequent problems seen by health-care providers. The lower or lumbar spine is the most common area of the back for people to experience pain,” according to The University of California, Davis.

The lower and lumbar spine are some of the most important physical elements of a person when it comes to designing a chair.

If you are not sitting in a correct and ergonomic style, there can be many physical struggles that can develop over time.

“You won’t have adequate blood flow from your brain down to your toes, your chest cavity won’t have a regular breathing pattern,” Hyman said. “Online, or students using computers during class time, also have a risk of developing carpal tunnel in their fingers due to blood flow.”

“Clearly if you are not adjusted correctly you won’t be able to focus on the task at hand, like a test or lecture,” Hyman said.

Galdamez, Wynkoop, and their fellow full-time classmates have first-hand experience with struggling to focus.

“The chairs do distract me from class when the class becomes long and my lower back starts to hurt,” Galdamez said. “The pain can vary but, most of the time, it is too strong to the point I can’t concentrate on my classes and the tasks at hand.”

Any physical harm to the body can be stress-inducing, which can exacerbate mental health issues like PTSD. Physical signs for a diagnosis include being tense, angry outbursts and not sleeping. All these particular problems and symptoms can make learning and focusing difficult.

The website for the Anxiety and Depression Association of America says that, “30% of college students reported that stress had negatively affected their academic performance.”  

“I already have had serious problems with mental illness in the past but becoming a full-time student and spending more time in chairs causing me back pain has brought up certain symptoms of my depression,” an anonymous COC student said.

“The chairs are comfortable. Some of the chairs in my math class are new,” Sebastian Vaca, a business administration major is a part-time student taking four units, said. “I am not experiencing back pain from sitting in chairs on campus.”

When listening to Vaca’s answers, onlookers’ eyes rolled.

“How does anyone feel this way?” Vaca hears from a fellow student in his math class.

“At Los Angeles Mission College, we don’t have a wide variety of chairs,” Xochitl Aguiniga, a recent graduate at Los Angeles Mission College, said. “The students on campus get used to the chairs because we have regular seats, computer seats and outdoor seating.”

When it comes to chairs, Hyman said LAMC beats COC.

“Students need to understand that every chair has different features and benefits and if you don’t use those benefits, that’s another reason why back pain and other symptoms can happen,” Hyman said.

To many, chairs can be a unneeded hassle for students, but COC students can take a stand on their seats. Students can avoid the dread of sitting in pain by steering clear of certain designs.

“Students should stay away from chairs especially without a back, arms, made in plastic,” Hyman said.

These ones are especially dangerous to the human body.

“I don’t try to sit in a chair without arms or made with plastic because those are the seats I tend to feel bad results in,” Cierra Sterling, an environmental studies major said.

Sterling has already been setting a good example for students, mapping out where these “bad” chairs are.

“These chairs can be found all over campus like the library and cafeteria,” Sterling states about the COC Valencia campus.

Even if you avoid the “bad” chairs, you can still figure out a way to end up in urgent care.

“Ergonomic chairs are the best for students but if the person doesn’t know how to adjust their chair and it’s to small or large for them, they will be back at stage one,” Hyman said.

These “good” chairs are designed for efficiency and comfort for long periods of time like a working environment. It’s easy to fix these highly detailed designs to your body type.

“Seat slider for taller or shorter people, pneumatic lift for height adjustments, adjustable lumbar support, and height adjustable arms are just some of the important accommodations, that your chair can change with one click,” Hyman said.

It’s important to note for the whoever is buying a mass amount of chairs for anyone:

“One size does NOT fit all,” Hyman said.

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