An Ergonomic Office Chair Buying Guide For Greater Comfort At Work
Many workers are advised to get more active, both on their commute and during the working hours.
One factor that some of us overlook is the office chair. The best ergonomic office chairs will help with comfort, posture and back problems. But, not all chairs use the same features, to the same standards.
In this ergonomic chair buying guide we will look at the following:
- the shape of the chair
- the cushioning across the seat and other components
- the style of back rest
- the use of materials
- adjustable elements and how they aid the user
- the general look and how it fits with the decor
What style and shape of ergonomic chair do you need?
Starting with the shape of the chair, it is important to consider this from a pretty general perspective before looking more closely at the features. There are different types of desk chairs out there for different needs and tastes.
There are ergonomic chairs that are minimal, more like stools than anything else, for posture and fitness. Then there those with extreme shapes and bucket seats like racing chairs. In the middle are the ones that try to look and operate more like a typical office chair, just with a better shape.
The choice here come down to the look, which we will discuss further later, but also the capacity, functions and needs of the users. Bucket seats with extreme options will be too much for many, while others won’t get the comfort they need from anything less.
A lot of this comes down to the use of cushioning.
There are different approaches to the cushioning on the seat and the shape of the back and sides of the chair. Some seats are simple with minimal padding, leaving the hard work to the back of the chair.
Others go all out to cushion users and provide enough space for those that may be a little wider or heavier. A great feature to look out for here is a waterfall edge. This helps to improve circulation to the legs, which is vital for those sitting at a desk for a long periods.
Some of these racing chairs are quite enclosed with padding in many places – such as up the sides and on the arm rests. Sleeker ergonomic office chairs focus on the shape of the back rest, the posture provided and the presence of a lumbar support.
The back rest is crucial here to stop users from slouching. When browsing options, look at the following:
- presence of a head rest
- lumbar support
- the materials used.
Some back rests are tall enough to accommodate users of different heights, with a built-in head rest for added support. Some will find that this is too high or at an odd angle. Others will prefer a mid-back chair where the backrest stops below the shoulder. Some of the more extreme ergonomic shapes can take a little while to get used to, but there are lots of benefits to those with back issues.
When it comes the materials used, there are lots of options and elements to consider.
One of the most important place to start with the materials is with the material used on the backrest. A good shape and posture is a brilliant start, but it isn’t much fun if users get all clammy and uncomfortable during the day.
Breathable mesh backs are a popular choice with many users that want to stay cool and comfortable over long periods. Some work better than others, so check the user reviews. Then there is the material of the seat. There are lots of choices here with real leather, faux leather and other types of upholstery.
There are additional factors to consider with the comfort, durability and cost. Real leather may feel nicer and tougher, but will be much more expensive. Some cheaper synthetic materials feel rough and snag too easily.
Of course the most important element to consider in this ergonomic chair buying guide is the adjustability.
Check the specification of any top chair for the following:
- adjustable seat height.
- adjustable back tilt
- adjustable head rest
- adjustable arms
The adjustable height is crucial for users of different sizes and for a comfortable position at different types of desks. What sort of level of recline is there on the back rest once you are in a comfortable position?
Some offer little other than a small tilt and a straight back, while others go into 45 degree and even 90 degree tilts for a napping chair. Is the head rest removable?
Can you change the angle or height. This is important for those a little taller than average. Then there are the arms. What is the range of motion here. Do they go up and down, back and forwards or offer a more fluid 360 motion?
Finally, there is the look of the chair.
The look of the chair is a lesser consideration by comparison, but still important in many offices. A lot of brands work to create the perfect executive chair with lots of padding and an old fashioned look – like antique looking leather.
Others are more stylish and contemporary. It depends on if this is for a managers office, cubicle or at-home set-up. Racing chairs with bold colours and branding work at home, but not in a communal environment.
Take the time to research the best models for the best results.
As this ergonomic chair user’s buying guide shows, there are more considerations to keep in mind than users might expect. The shape and look of the chair is a great starting point to make sure that it matches the setting. Yet, the cushioning, materials and adjustable elements are just as important.
Take the time to read through all the specifications and user reviews to find out what it can really do. Some will promise a lot in terms of function and adjustments but may not be that easy to use or particularly comfortable. Browse carefully and you could find the perfect ergonomic chair.
Benefits Of Using An Ergonomic Chair
First of all, the basic office chair has a more simplistic, familiar shape that many of us are used to.
The ergonomic chairs are often taller, larger and with more curves. Then there is the price. Sometimes we have to pay a little more for the privilege of these ergonomic chairs.
So, why are we paying more. What is it about these chairs that makes them more beneficial?
The answer comes down to the way that they help different parts of the body.
- the back and related pain
- the neck and support in this area
- the seat for greater comfort
- the positioning and support of the arms
- the overall posture of the user.
The top 5 benefits of using an ergonomic chair – by body part.
The back rest:
The back rest is an important part of this design. There are different approaches here. Some use a flexible, breathable mesh that works with the movement of the body.
This combines support and comfort to help users over longer periods of time. Then there are those with thicker padding and cushioning. This can help those that like a softer approach, or have specific medical issues.
For example, many ergonomic office chairs now include an adjustable lumbar pillow. This can provide essential relief to worker over long hours, potentially easing long-term back conditions.
The shape of the back rest is also important, especially in those with minimal padding. Some are curved to mimic the spine, ensuring that users work in the best position without slouching.
The neck and head rest:
Further up the back rest is the neck and head support. Standard desk chairs often stop below the shoulder, with no support in this area.
Many ergonomic models go beyond this. There are high back chairs with greater support at the shoulders and neck, then some that go further with a head rest.
This is great for better comfort and posture. This is something soft to lean back on. The best models are also adjustable to suit different heights and users. The only problem is that this is sometimes an issue for the very short.
The seat itself is sometimes overlooked in favour of other ergonomic elements in the chair. However, the shape can make a big different to the support and comfort offered to the user. Some, such as big racing chairs, have a large bucket shape.
This is great for larger users that want a little more security. Many also now have a waterfall edge to the seat. This slight curve works with the position of the legs to improve circulation.
Where are your arms as you work? They aren’t always in the same place for long, as we move between tasks. Yet, many of us have a clear posture for a comfortable typing position. Adjustable arm rests that move with the user are a great tool here.
They can provide the optimal angle for the armrest to the keyboard, and better support more generally. This ease pressure and maybe even help with carpal tunnel syndrome. Even better are those that fold away for certain tasks or are completely removable.
Posture via tilt and other angles:
The best ergonomic chairs will have plenty of adjustments across the model for the best angles and posture. This means the most comfortable experience with the greatest support. We have seen this in the adjustments to the head and arms rests, but there is also the adjustment in the height and tilt.
The seat height adjustment is standard with most desk chairs. But, many ergonomic office chairs offer greater options with the tilt. Some go back 90 degrees for napping. Many can also lock into place.
Finding the best ergonomic chair for your needs.
This 5 benefts of using an ergonomic chair show that the best ones are those with plenty of options and great freedom of movement. They should work with the body for a great experience, instead of working against it.
This means flexibility in the back and adjustments, adaptive features and the chance of long-lasting comfort and support. Test a few out, see what works and improve your work environment significantly.