Chances are if you work in an office environment, you or your organization has debated the merits of implementing an ergonomic chair in your workspace. Getting the best computer chair for long hours of work is important. The adjustability and customization these chairs boast mean they often carry a hefty price tag. Despite this initial up-front cost, the benefits you reap from sitting in an ergonomic chair might mean that it ends up paying for itself over time. In this article, we will cover the four main components of an ergonomic chair to help you decide if the one you have your eyes on is worth the investment.
Experts say that when considering an ergonomic chair, you should break it down into its four major components: backrest, seat, armrests, and base. These factors can all be beneficial on their own, but a chair should have all four of these variables present (and of high quality) to ultimately be worth your money.
The perfect backrest will be height adjustable (much like a good desk!). This means that the back support, including the lumbar cushion which supports your lower back, can be adjusted to your exact height. This is important because the human spine is not a perfectly straight line- rather, it’s slightly curved in the shape of the letter S. Because no two people are exactly the same height, the shapes of their backs differ, necessitating a backrest that can adjust to accommodate a user of any stature. The entire backrest should also be able to recline on its own as opposed to in tandem with the seat. You should be able to lock the backrest in place when the desired angle is achieved to prevent slipping of posture throughout the day. Make sure you also consider a material that you like for the chair. For example, a fabric office chair will be different to a mesh office chair.
When it comes to the seat of an ergonomic chair, a key term to know is the “seat pan”. The seat pan is the area of the chair that you’re actually sitting on, usually the area between the back of the buttocks and the backs of the knees. Because everyone’s body has different measurements, it is essential that the seat pan depth be adjustable as well. Too shallow of a seat pan and you’ll be squished in the chair balancing all of your weight on one small area. Too deep of a seat pan and your back won’t touch the backrest, or you’ll find yourself putting undue pressure on the backs of your knees and calves. Just like the backrest, a good seat pan will also have an adjustable angle, meaning you can recline or lean your seat forward throughout the day to redistribute your weight appropriately. This prevents your pelvis from staying in any given load-bearing position for too long.
The armrests are a little bit trickier than the seat pan and backrest. Firstly, they come down to personal preference- some people prefer to forego armrests altogether in favor of a more open range of motion. If you do decide to choose a chair with armrests though, remember that they are just that- rests for your arms, not supports. The armrests should never support any amount of weight greater than your arms. This means you don’t want to lean on the armrests or bear down onto them to hold your weight, as this could cause tension in the shoulders and neck. It’s also important to ensure that the armrests aren’t spaced too widely apart or close together. The pads should fall just under your elbows, and ideally, they should be able to pivot inward and outward to match the angle that your arms naturally rest in. Lastly, good armrests should be height adjustable so that you aren’t forced to hunch your shoulders or reach down to meet the armrests.
The base is the final component of a good ergonomic chair, and arguably the simplest of the four. According to the experts, all you really need in a good chair base are five or more legs with casters. A caster is a wheel with rotational capabilities that are fixed to the leg of each chair. These wheels allow for smooth, rolling movement. If you have fewer than five legs on a rolling office chair, the chair is far more likely to tip over, which could result in injury.
All four of these components work in tandem to reduce stress on your body throughout the day and bear a load of your body weight evenly across as great a surface area as possible. Properly adjusting your backrest and seat pan will align your shoulders, hips and spine for maximum comfort and support. The armrests will allow your arms to fall into their natural position without straining to rest them on the desk in front of you. An ergonomic chair also reduces slouching, promotes good posture, and helps prevent neck and shoulder pain, especially while working at a computer.
Just because a chair is marketed as ergonomic does not mean it will excel in all four of these categories. It’s up to you as a buyer to understand the function behind the components of a high-quality ergonomic chair so that you can look for one that fulfills all of these facets. Over time, a good ergonomic chair can provide a reduction of back pain, shoulder stiffness and neck soreness, and give you relief from the day-to-day ailments of office life. While they may be a little bit pricier than a standard office chair, the physical relief they bring can make ergonomic chairs well worth the investment.
Khalil ur Rehman is a proud born and raised in Abbottabad. Khalil has worked as a journalist for nearly a decade having contributed to several large publications including the Yahoo News and The Verge. As a journalist for The Hear Up, Khalil covers climate and science news. [email protected]
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Umar Nisar was born and raised in the busy city of Abbottabad. As a journalist, Umar Nisar has contributed to many online publications including PAK Today and the Huffing Post. In regards to academics, Umar Nisar earned a degree in business from the Abbottabad UST, Havelian. Umar Nisar follows the money and covers all aspects of emerging tech here at The Hear Up.