For a lot of us, last year has involved more sitting than we could have ever imagined. And whether it be for the festive season or to start the new year in comfort, you’ve finally decided to treat yourself to that office chair your lower back has been crying out for since April.
All that’s left to do is choose the right one for you. If you are anything like us during your research you've fallen down a few rabbit holes and ended up clocking up another 3 hours sitting on your old chair, and still, feel no closer to making a decision. Hopefully, this might give you a few useful ideas.
N things to look for in an Ergonomic Chair
It is important to say that no two people are the same so, there’ll be no envelopes, prizes, or podiums at the end of the article. On the upside, you might have a useful checklist to help you pick the chair that best suits you and your needs.
Let’s start with the big one. What is the big fuss about? Ergonomic chairs are designed to support your body to do what a lot of doctors would say it was never designed to do, sit for long hours. A good ergonomic chair will support your body in a way that is not just comfortable but actually promotes good posture. The best Ergonomic Chairs could aid you to eliminate poor posture-related aches and pain in areas such as the neck, shoulders, and crucially the lower back .
Mesh vs Fabric
Both have their advantages. Mesh chairs have that modern style that makes them look great in any office, but much more than that, they are extremely practical. They were designed to overcome the problem that so many of us are happy to spend hours researching then invest dollars procuring the perfect chair, only to be too lazy or busy to adjust the chair to suit us. The mesh molds to your back while providing the comfort and support a chair should. They also offer a great deal of breathability to keep you comfortable for long hours spent in front of the screen. (To ensure that it is the deadline and not the chair that is making you sweat.)
Ideally, the mesh should be firm enough to support you while having sufficient soft, interwoven fibers to feel cushioned.
The fabric chair can be especially suitable for those of us who prefer a slightly more cushioned feel. They can also provide a bit more warmth, if Steve from accounts has got carried away with the air-con again, or you simply tend to get cold in the office.
The best of both worlds; most designers tend to have reached a consensus that an upholstered base and a mesh backrest is a marriage made in heaven.
The more you can personalize your chair to your needs, the more likely you are, to create the ideal seating position and eliminate those office aches and strains.
So look for adjustable; headrests, armrests, seat base, lumbar support, and backrest. See below for more details-
When seated, your arms should rest at approximately 90 degrees to your body, so chairs that can move vertically are a real must. Secondly, to accommodate everyone's body type armrests that can move left and right, back and forward can give you the perfect resting and typing positions. One other important feature is cushioning, you'll want to make sure the armrest is padded to protect your Ulnar Nerve.
• Seat base
Make sure that the depth and width of the chair suit you. You want to be able to sit comfortably with your legs supported and able to keep your feet flat on the floor with your knees at 90° to your hips. If you go for a padded seat try to make sure it has a removable cover that you can wash or is easy to wipe down. If you opt for mesh make sure it has smooth rounded edges to prevent discomfort.
• Adjustable Seating Depth
Seating depth is the Goldilocks of functions; if it is not just right, then it is just, well, wrong. This often neglected aspect is essential for good posture allowing you to maintain a neutral position.
The right depth lets you fully support your legs without digging into the back of your knees and inhibiting your circulation. Trying to walk to the water cooler on legs like Bambi’s is never a great look. On that note, try to find a seat with a “waterfall” edge a (curved edge).
Adjustable seating depth means you can use the backrest and lumbar support for what it was intended for. Not find yourself stranded mid-seat that can over time lead to overarching of the lower back, possibly resulting in spasms. At the other extreme, sitting too far forward can cause the opposite problem.
Ideally, it should be height adjustable or tall enough to support your entire back. As we mentioned above, a mesh can offer a cool supportive material. Preferably it should have height-adjustable lumbar support to give you that essential lower back support exactly where you need it. Some higher-end models incorporate features that allow you to adjust the tension of the support.
• Tilt/ Recline and Lock
An essential function to help you change position and also for when you take that well-earned breather. Altering your seating position is vital for maintaining good lower back health. After you have found that perfect position, it is best to have a reliable locking system to safely maintain it.
What can make these chairs even more indispensable is the added feature of a footrest. When this combines with a chair with a great tilt range and good secure lock system, they could help relieve pressure caused by maintaining the same position for too long, allow a brainstorming session away from the screen, or just a brief moment of reprieve, when the boss is out.
Some of the higher-end models provide a tilt and chassis mechanism for flexibility. Ideally, you want to find one that can be adapted to synch with the chair seat(pan) with two or more lockable positions for adaptability.
Last but certainly not least, if you find that the cracking of your joints is startling the semi-comatose cat two-doors-down every time you cock head to peer around the screen to see if your delivery has arrived, then you‘ll know how important this feature is. Try and look for a headrest that can tilt and move up and down to give you maximum support no matter what task you are engaged in.
ConclusionIf you are going to be spending any length of time sat at a desk, then an ergonomic chair that supports your posture could be as vital a part of your office set up as a computer or decent wifi. There is not a one-sized-fits-all model so it is probably worth working out what you are looking for but given that lower back pain is responsible for more than 264 million lost workdays per annum in the USA1 it's almost certainly worth it.