The Scandal of School Chairs

An Alexander Technique teacher in Ireland, Richard Brennan, has petitioned the Irish government to improve school chairs by replacing old chairs with ones that do not slope downwards.  Downwards sloping chairs cause slumping, encouraging poor posture which can lead to back pain.  There are health and safety regulations which ensure good seating for adults in the workplace, but children are not protected in schools.

In my last blog, I wrote about BackCare’s Schoolbag Survey.  Fifteen years ago, BackCare commissioned an ergonomically designed rucksack for children to protect their young bodies from the damage caused by carrying too heavy and poorly distributed loads.  In 2005, BackCare launched a campaign Protecting Young Backs which included a publication ‘Your Back in the Future – How School Furniture Is Ruining Our Children’s Physical Health’.

This is a subject which is important to me.  In 1998, I started the Campaign for Better Seating to draw attention to the effect of poor seat design on back health.  In theory, if we have good posture we can use that good posture anywhere.  But some seats make good sitting posture impossible, for example, the downward sloping chair found in Irish schools and many British schools.

It is now recognized that poor posture, whether in sitting, standing or moving, is the background to much back pain.  Good sitting posture is the interaction between the person and the chair.  No one chair is perfect for everyone, and the chair can never do it all.  We have to do our part.  Alexander Teachers have been teaching good posture for over a hundred years.  There is now research evidence that the Alexander Technique is beneficial for chronic low back pain.


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