If you’re wondering what you look for in an ergonomic office chair, then you’ve come to the right place. Whether you are looking for an office chair for your home office or even for the workplace, the principles are still the same.
If you’re anything like me, you probably sitting at a desk for hours on end. Towards the end of the day, do you notice yourself feeling a bit of pain or even just tiredness in your shoulders or back and feel the desire to slouch?
Let me guess, you are feeling tired because you are sitting at a chair that is uncomfortable, and as a result, your back is starting to ache. Your back is starting to ache because you are probably sitting on a chair that is not adjustable or possibly even sitting on your uncomfortable, stiff kitchen chair at home, and as a result, you feel irritable and anxious.
You feel irritable and anxious because you have to sit in this one stiff position for hours on end, and as a result, you are concerned that your back pain will only get progressively worse.
I bet you’re guilty of this!
Who knows, you may even be sitting on your couch, bed, on your kitchen chair at a table or even on the floor. If that’s the case, you are not alone! Many people who have had to work from home at short notice had very little home accessories or equipment available to them and are suffering the consequences of this poor office setup as a result.
For years as a student studying from home, I often found myself tucked up in bed on my laptop or even sitting at the kitchen table for the whole day hunched over a laptop or books.
As a result, I know all too well about the dreaded complaint that is back pain. Fear not though as I will teach you everything you need to know to set you free from this detrimental posture that you find yourself in.
This slouching behaviour and poor posture is often attributed to the chair that you are sitting on, and believe it or not, this can lead to a lifetime of pain and agony as progressive degeneration of the back muscles and discs occurs due to regularly adopting a poor posture.
We all know that sitting is an enemy of a healthy posture. So, let’s tackle that enemy head on by teaching you exactly what to look for when choosing an ergonomic office chair.
By the end of this post, I can guarantee that you’ll be able to sniff out a chair that is not only ergonomic and comfortable to sit on, it will also be suitable for your height, regardless of whether you are short or tall person.
So, join me as I teach you how to say goodbye to back pain and discomfort once and for all and learn how to choose an office chair that meets all your needs and desires.
You should be able to adjust the height of the chair. Using a lever to lower and raise the seat, you can adjust the chair so that it accommodates your height instead of you accommodating the chair.
Additionally, you should be able to have your feet flat on the floor based on the height. However, this may depend on the height of the desk, as good posture guidelines dictate that arms should be at a 90-degree angle when positioned in a typing manner.
This is why you often see people with footrests underneath their chair or on the floor so that they can have their feet planted on a solid surface while also achieving a good height at their desk.
Furthermore, an important characteristic of a good posture is having your thighs almost parallel with the floor and knees at approximately a 90-degree angle to the floor. The height range should vary between 15 and 22 inches, thus being able to provide for the majority of heights and desks.
The back of the chair should be adjustable based on your posture and your preference. You should be able to tilt the backrest forward and back at certain angles, and also lock the preferred position in place. This is to ensure that you are not slouching or leaning too far back or too far forward while you are seated in the chair.
Ideally, the chair will be in an upright position the majority of the time so that you are not deviating away from your normal posture. However, there will be periods throughout the day where you will feel the need to stretch or move your posture, which is completely acceptable and even recommended. As a result, this is why the backrest should be adjustable.
In addition to being adjustable, the back of the chair should also offer lumbar support; this is especially important for your lower back, which is more susceptible to back pain and injury.
I’m sure back pain is something that you shudder at the thought of; it’s highly unlikely that you have never experienced lower back pain as it is the most common type of back pain that people complain off.
With lumbar support, the back of the chair should have a curve that sits into your lower back and forms a groove with the natural position of your spine.
The lumbar support offered by an ergonomic chair should also be adjustable, so depending on the height of the person sitting on the chair, they can adjust the back curve to accommodate their height.
Did you know: Back pain affects a whopping 60 to 80% of the population at some stage in their life, In addition, it features on the list of the top 10 diseases and injuries that affect people worldwide. Not only that, but it is also the leading cause of activity limitation and workplace absence throughout much of the world.
The width and depth of the seat is an important factor as this is where most of your weight is positioned on the chair. It should be a suitable width and depth to fit all of your body on, including ¾ of your thigh. The seat typically should be around 17 to 20 inches wide.
Depth of the seat is also important because the distance from the front to the back of the seat will determine if you are able to leave about 2 to 4 inches between the back of your knees and the seat. This is so that there is enough room for you to move your knees on the chair.
If the seat depth is too large, it will also impede the ability of you to sit properly into the chair with your back supported by the backrest. This is a common factor that causes people to slouch or develop back pain.
Many adjustable chairs come with a seat slider function which essentially allows you to move the base of the seat inwards and outwards. This will allow you to sit more ergonomically into the chair with your back supported by the lumbar support region and also allow you to have some space in between your knees and the seat base.
The seat itself should also have a tilt function at the front and back of the seat. This is so that you can position your hips slightly above your knees.
When choosing a seat, the material that it is fabricated from should be taken into consideration. Material that is comfortable to sit on should be a priority. It should also be breathable, for example mesh chairs.
While sitting on the chair, a breathable material will encourage increased airflow and also help to keep you cool while you are seated. This is particularly important for people working in warm climates.
The material itself should offer high-quality padding to minimize fatigue, discomfort and imbalance while being seated. I’m sure we all can relate to sitting on a bicycle for hours on end which had a very poorly padded seat. Not a pleasant experience. I’m sure you can agree that this is not something that you would like to experience on a daily basis.
Tip: Bear in mind that the material should be easy to clean, e.g. leather is an easy fabric to wipe down. This is especially important if you are someone who eats al-desko (i.e. eats at your desk).
More often than not, these minor mishaps with food and drinks tend to cause stains on the base of the seat; that may raise eyebrows when people see the stains, if you know what I mean.
Armrests on the chair should be adjustable and it should be possible to both lower and raise the height of the armrests. The armrests should not hinder your ability to position yourself closer to the desk.
If this is the case, the height of the armrests should be either lowered or raised, typically lowered, so that the user can manoeuvre the chair to be close enough to the monitor or laptop.
In addition to this, armrests should not cause the user to impede their mobility or shrug their arms or shoulders while they are typing. Generally, armrests can be tilted back in line with the back of the chair. In many cases, they can even be removed, so you can decide if you want to use them or not.
Funnily enough, I always feel as if I am going to fall out of the chair if I don’t have the armrests lowered. Do you feel like this too or am I alone on this one?
You should be able to swivel the base of the chair so that you can move without having to twist your body in the direction that you want to go without getting off the seat.
Movement and stability
Most chairs will be equipped with a 5-star base which has wheels to allow easy movement while being seated on the chair. These wheels should be free moving and free moving. Additionally, they should not cause any damage to the floor while moving on the chair.
These five spokes should allow for optimal stability while being seated. So, no need to fear falling off the chair or experiencing any of those heart attack inducing wobbly moments that you have when sitting on flimsy chairs.
What is your health, happiness and productivity worth to you?
If you are purchasing a home office chair yourself, the price may startle you, but don’t be discouraged by this as you need to consider it as an investment, and a long-term investment at that. A decent chair should last you a considerable amount of time. Additionally, this will be one of the most used pieces of furniture in your home office.
Think about it, you’re probably going to be spending at least 8 hours a day, five times a week for months, or even years on end, seated on this chair. As such, it really is something that you cannot afford to be stingy on.
If you think about it in another way, this is without a doubt an investment into your health and well-being. A quality office chair could ultimately save you years of suffering, pain and agony that is associated with back pain. It could also save you hundreds if not thousands in medical bills, absenteeism and costs associated with being out of work.
I’m sure you don’t want to be one of the 60-80% of the population suffering the dreaded injury that is back pain. Your home office chair is an investment into your health, happiness, well-being and even productivity, and its value should not be underestimated.
So, there you have it a complete list of what you should look for in an ergonomic office chair. I bet you will never look at your chair in the same way after reading this.
Unfortunately, the chair is only one component of a successful home office. Now you’re probably thinking what else needs to be considered for a work office or home office to be a healthy and comfortable workplace?
I’m glad you asked, because if you don’t want your posture or back pain to get worse, then reading these easy tips and guidelines in Setting up a home office checklist – the essential guide could be the wisest thing you do all month!
What key points are you going to take away from this article? Will you use the checklist on your own chair to see if it can be improved? Or have you been motivated to invest in a good quality ergonomic office chair in a bid to protect her health? I would love to hear your feedback and questions in the comment box below.
Additionally, if there are any topics that you would like me to cover, please leave them in the comment box below as well.