Pain Free Working

A Complete Guide to Ergonomic Chairs

Is your office chair killing your back? It’s probably high time that you upgraded to an ergonomic chair. However, before you make any sudden changes in your office, you need to learn about its benefits and considerations. A new ergonomic office chair is quite the investment, so it’s vital that you have all the information before you commit to a product.

What is an Ergonomic Chair?

Many people assume that office chairs in general are ergonomic. While they are designed to adjust to different body dimensions, chairs are only considered ergonomic when they suit a specific worker in terms of size, the type of workstation and performed tasks.

Thus, an ergonomic chair is a seat tailored for a desk worker, with varying support features to suit specific kinds of desk workers. For example, an ergonomic dentist chair consists of features that may not be found on an ergonomic computer worker’s chair.

Additionally, an ergonomic chair conforms to the user’s shape, supports the spine and other bones, as well as keeps joints and tissue in a neutral position.

Components of an Ergonomic Chair

What exactly makes a chair ergonomic? Here are the five main features, along with optional ones, of a good chair:

Seat Height Range. A good chair can adjust to a wide range of heights, from tall to short.

Seat Pan Depth Adjustment. The seat pan slides so the front edge of the seat adjusts further or closer to the backrest, catering to long and short legs so it doesn’t cut off blood flow to your knees and feet.

Backrest Adjustment. The back support adjusts vertically for longer body dimensions. In addition, angle adjustment alleviates stress on spine. The chair also offers lumbar support.

Armrest Adjustment. Armrests adjust by width and height to offer comfort and reduce strain while working.

Stability. A chair with a five-point or more base offers good stability.

Headrest Adjustment (Optional). Similar to a car seat, a headrest adjusts to varying neck lengths for customized support.

Casters or Wheels (Optional). The chair allows you to move freely so you can easily roll between stations or different parts of a single workstation.

What are the Benefits of an Ergonomic Chair?

Ergonomic seating offers a number of benefits for employees and companies at large, but let’s take a closer look at the advantages for desk workers.

It improves your posture

With your shoulders directly above your hips, the backrest (and headrest, if included in the chair) reduces back, hip and neck pain and strain. Additionally, no stiffness in your neck, shoulders or back means less risk of complications like cervical spondylosis, since your spine is protected.

It promotes blood circulation

Do you ever feel numb in your knees and feet from sitting down for too long? This happens when you don’t receive enough blood flow to your legs, caused by non supportive chairs. When adjusted correctly, you can sit comfortably while working.

Your stress decreases and productivity increases

More comfort means less physical pains distracting you from completing tasks. Plus, less risk of injuries and complications from bad seated posture means less chances of calling in sick.

How to Use an Ergonomic Chair

Using an ergonomic chair is not as straightforward as simply plopping on a chair. For maximum benefits, here are tips for sitting on an ergonomic seat.

Push your hips back onto the chair

Your hips must move back as far as possible in the chair in order to see what kind of adjustments need to be made in other parts of the chair. Then lean back to see if you need to change the height, headrest, etc.

Adjust the seat pan depth

Slide the seat pan further or closer according to your leg length. Make sure you can fit a closed fist between the back of your knees and the front edge of the seat.

Unlock the backrest angle adjustment

Don’t lock the seat so that it’s at a fixed angle. As long as it still offers the proper support, the chair allows for easy immediate adjustment as you’re stretching or moving your back slightly forward. Shifting postures ensures you never put too much pressure on your spine for a long period of time.

Adjust your armrest so your arms create an “L” shape

Increase or decrease the height of your armrest so that you can rest your arms comfortably with your shoulders relaxed. The elbows should bend at a 90 degree angle.

Make sure your feet rest on the ground comfortably

As you sit on the chair, your feet should rest flat on the floor without any pressure. That requires adjusting the height of the seat so your knees are slightly above your hips. This supports blood flow in your legs.

What to Look for in an Ergonomic Chair

While ergonomic chairs do offer more support than generic office furniture, not one single chair will cater to everyone’s needs. When looking for chairs, as yourself the following questions:

  • What kind of support are you looking for? Do you have any health issues that require a particular type of chair? Do you need a headrest?
  • Does the chair suit your body dimensions? Can you adjust the chair to suit your height and other body dimensions so that you aren’t straining any parts of your body?
  • What is your budget for an ergonomic chair? Have you considered the cost for maintenance and repairs?
  • Is the chair suited for your desk? Do you need to make any other workstation adjustments in addition to the chair?
  • Do you need a chair with wheels? Will the wheels disrupt your work? Are the wheels/legs suitable for your office flooring?
  • Does the chair suit your profession? Does the chair offer the support you need for the amount of time spent working while seated and the type of work you do? Do you need adjustable arms rests (if you are a computer worker)?