If you spend long hours at the office, an ergonomic chair is a must-have for you. It can provide the much-needed support to your spine, prevent health issues, and contribute to your motivation and overall mood by providing a comfortable work environment.
Ergonomics is a word that gets thrown around a lot when it comes to furniture and especially chairs, and most of us assume that it only has to do with orthopedics, but what does ergonomics really mean?
What Does Ergonomic Chair Mean?
The science of ergonomics focuses on creating and designing objects that humans can interact with in the most efficient and safe ways possible. Therefore, ergonomic chairs are designed to maximize your efficiency and safety.
Ergonomic chairs are comfortable to sit on, but they also have other functions. For example, the placement of the height adjustment lever is decided by the science of ergonomics. All levers, buttons, and screws are designed to make the chair as easy to use as possible and most efficient.
Why Buy an Ergonomic Chair?
There are a variety of reasons to buy an ergonomic chair. To give an overview of the general benefits of an ergonomic chair:
- Properly supports upper and lower back, and neck,
- Relieves pressure from the hips and shoulders,
- Promotes better blood flow,
- Aligns the spine, and
- Improves productivity and mood.
As you can see, an ergonomic chair provides a much better environment for you to work in. If you’re feeling unmotivated at work, suffering from chronic back pain, or have posture problems, buying an ergonomic chair can help you kill a few birds with just one stone.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can head over to our post, where we explain chair ergonomics in detail. We’ve also included some of our best ergonomic chairs picks among a wide range of models.
How Do You Know If a Chair Is Ergonomic?
As we mentioned, an ergonomic chair doesn’t just mean good back support. Let’s look at the functions and features that make a chair ergonomic.
One of the most critical features of an ergonomic chair is the height adjustment functionality. You should be able to adjust your seat height to achieve the best sitting position for your posture health and spinal alignment.
If your chair is height adjustable, you can easily set your chair to your ideal sitting position using these simple steps:
- Sit in an upright position with your hips slightly pushing back,
- Keep your knees bent at a 90-degree angle,
- Keep your feet parallel to the ground, and
- Adjust the seat height until your feet are flat on the floor.
A chair that’s too high can put too much pressure on your hips, and having your chair too low may cause you to tuck your feet under or sit on your leg regularly. This can lead to an imbalance in your spine over time and cause chronic discomfort.
Another important feature that contributes to the ergonomics of your office chair is the recline setting. An ergonomically designed chair should allow you to adjust how much the chair reclines at any time.
You might think the ergonomically correct sitting position is upright and that the recline function is for kicking back and relaxing only, but did you know that you need the recline? Cornell University says the ideal thigh-body angle is around 100-110 degrees. This makes the reclining functionality extra important as you want a chair that can hold your weight at a certain angle. An ergonomic office chair must have a good-quality, durable recline mechanism.
Quality of the Materials
The type and quality of the materials are of great importance when it comes to chair ergonomics.
For starters, the material should be strong and sturdy. The chair may be made of plastic materials, which is perfectly fine, but the pieces, handles, and buttons should not feel too loose or wobbly. The parts you’ll interact with the most, such as the adjustment levers, the back rest, and other moving parts, shouldn’t hurt your hand.
Additionally, whether the chair seat is made of fabric, mesh, or leather is also very important. The material should be good quality and breathable to prevent excessive sweating, which can be an issue if you work long hours. If you’re having trouble deciding what material to pick, check out our comparison of leather and mesh office chairs.
Five-Star Base and Castors
Office chairs move around, thanks to the wheels at the base of the chair that is called castors.
An ergonomic chair should have a five-star base and five legs that resemble the shape of a star. The base allows you to maintain your balance and move around freely. If it’s not made of quality materials, it might wobble or make too much sound every time you move, meaning that the design is not ergonomic.
You may have heard the term “lumbar” before, but do you know what it means? The lumbar spine refers to the region that curves inward in your lower back, and it’s essential to keep this area supported to keep your spine aligned and posture straight while you’re sitting. Robust lumbar support prevents back pain and can help you maintain your posture.
While some office chairs provide adjustable lumbar support, gaming chairs offer a different solution by including a detachable lumbar support pillow. If your chair doesn’t feature a lumbar support functionality, you can also easily get a lumbar pillow online for an affordable price.
The neck support is another important feature when it comes to ergonomics. Proper neck support can help you keep a neutral spinal position, and it can help eliminate chronic pain in the neck and shoulders by relieving tension in the area.
Unfortunately, neck support is only possible for chairs that feature a high back with a headrest. While some office chairs have detachable headrests that you can adjust to support your neck, others, like gaming chairs, provide neck support with the help of a detachable neck pillow that’s similar to a lumbar pillow.
You can find a few gaming chairs with neck support in our gaming chair buying guide.
To adjust the neck support properly, sit in an upright position as described above, and place the support under the inward curve on the back of your neck so that your head is fully supported while you’re looking straight ahead.
An ergonomically designed chair should definitely take your posture into account, and the best way to maintain a good posture is to have a fully extended back support.
Most office chairs have a low-profile backrest, and while that may be sufficient for short instances of sitting, it is less than ideal for working long hours. On the other hand, gaming chairs are rarely low-profile as they are specifically designed to be sat in for long hours.
If you’re looking for good back support, we’ve recently reviewed a great ergonomic office chair that has an extended back and a detachable headrest that just might hit the spot.
Last but not least, an armrest is a crucial feature that contributes to your spinal health by providing extra support to your body as you sit.
An armrest can help you maintain a straight posture more easily and relieve the stress that accumulates on your shoulders. Ideally, your armrest should be positioned so that your elbows come down directly at your side and touch the armrest at a right angle (90 degrees) when your shoulders are fully relaxed.
An ergonomic chair should have adjustable armrests. While most office chairs provide 2D (two-directional) adjustment, most gaming chairs offer 3D or 4D adjustment, providing more options and allowing for better customization.
An ergonomic chair is an essential item for any office. It provides support to your spine, which in turn helps you maintain good posture and prevents health issues like back pain, neck pain, and muscle spasms.
As we said, the ergonomics of a chair involve much more than just the back support or comfiness. An ergonomic chair should be optimized so that your interactions with the chair are safe and efficient.
To decide whether a chair is ergonomically designed, you can look at some of its features like the recline function, the lumbar and neck support, the backrest, and the armrest. The base of the chair and the castors also contribute to the ergonomics of the chair, as well as the quality of the materials used.
If you think your chair is not fulfilling your needs, it may be time to get a new one. You can use this article as a guide for picking a new chair, or you can also head over to our post on the best ergonomic office chairs, where we have reviewed 6 of the most popular ergonomic office chairs currently on the market.