choosing the best office chair

Choosing the best office chair might be more important than you think. And not just for your productivity. Making sure you are in the correct position for the majority of your workday is crucial in preventing strains and musculoskeletal problems.

Neck, upper limb and above all, back pain are among the workplace ailments most commonly complained of. Unsurprisingly then, it’s also one of the biggest causes of absenteeism in Australia. And for the sufferer, it can cause great discomfort and pain, and hit productivity.

And the no.1 cause of these problems is poor work posture. The tendency to lean over the desk and look downwards places strain on the neck and back muscles and curves the spine. On top of this, most people still don’t correctly align their chair with their desk and keyboard, which can lead to a host of repetitive strain injuries.

All of this happens because, in reality, we did not evolve to be sat in one position all day. Sounds pretty bleak huh? Well, the good news is that 90% of these problems can be prevented. Even in the home office, finding and maintaining the correct posture is the best way to stave off future issues. With the correct office chair and a little understanding of the ergonomics involved, these problems can be prevented.

So how then how do you choose the best ergonomic chair, and what should you be looking for? Below, we explain everything you need to know to choose the best chair for you.

Defining Ergonomic Chairs

Ergonomic chairs are designed to do more than just provide a place to sit; they actively participate in enhancing the sitter's health by promoting correct posture. These office chairs tend to uphold the natural 'S' contour of the back, reducing spinal stress and pressure on the pelvis. The adjustable backrest in ergonomic chairs aligns with the curve of your back, providing excellent spinal support. In simple terms, they are designed to fit you, rather than you adjusting to fit them.

Who really needs an ergonomic chair?

In truth, a variety of individuals can take advantage of these chairs, especially those who work in a sitting position. From office employees to assembly-line workers and data-entry operators, many report episodes of back pain, muscle soreness, and common aches. A high incidence of health issues like varicose veins, neck stiffness, and leg numbness among seated workers indicates the benefits of using ergonomic chairs for maintaining health in the workplace.

Do ergonomic chairs make a difference?

Yes, indeed! Ergonomic chairs significantly differ from traditional ones by providing complete back support, mirroring the natural curvature of your spine. This not only reduces the likelihood of back pain but also allows for a reclining function that exceeds the usual 90 degrees of regular chairs. This attribute directly impacts and enhances the overall seating experience in terms of comfort, support and body alignment.

Which Chair Is Best For The Office?

To begin choosing the best office chair for you, first of all you need to consider how you use it, and what you use it for. And the answer won’t be as simple as just sitting! Not only do we all have different frames and builds that require a different chair set up. We all have different needs depending on the exact job we do, and even then, we all have our own work styles. And if you have a home office you need to consider the style of the entire house too!

The best office chair will always be the chair that works the best for your frame, your job, and your office. Ergonomically designed chairs take account of all of this, allowing the flexibility to alter your position and find the best and safest position for you. An ergonomic office chair will offer lumbar support to protect your back. They will often come with many other ergonomic touches in the chair design, of course. The subtle slope of the armrests, or the curve of the front of the seat: they might not seem it at first sight, but all of this is designed to keep you in the best position.

But the type of chair must suit the job. Architects and designers will require an ergonomic draft chair so they can work on drawings, whereas most office staff will be best suited to a task chair. Some people will find they are better suited to a kneeling position, or prefer to use an active stool to keep themselves moving.

What’s not in question though, is that whichever office chair you choose, paying careful attention to the ergonomic benefits it offers is crucial. 

Best Chairs for 8-hour Occupations

If you consider a standard workday, you could be sitting for up to eight hours. A chair designed for this intensive use is imperative to maintain productivity and avoid discomfort.

If you opt for an ergonomic chair, your choices range from simple designs to highly adjustable ones like the Desky Pro + Ergonomic Chair and the Desky Elite Ergonomic Chair. These options exemplify excellent comfort, breathability, flexibility, and support for long hours.

What Is The Best Ergonomic Office Chair?

Choosing the best ergonomic office chair can be a complicated business, so we've listed the key things you should be looking for when selecting an office chair.

Chair Seat Material

The material of the support and the seat of the chair itself is important as it affects the amount of padding and support you experience. You also want to choose an office chair made in breathable materials that allow airflow, to help keep you cool during the workday.

Height Adjustable Headrest

Most people have a tendency to lean into their work station. If you work on a computer all day this is only natural. However, it leaves us in a position that is very unnatural for human frames. This leads us to the importance of the headrest. Choosing a chair with a range of options for the headrest setting helps you to relieve the strain on your neck easily.

office chair neck pillow

 

After all, your head is heavy, so having a headrest that allows you to support or rest your neck, whilst maintaining optimal typing position could save you a lot of pain in the long run.

Adjustable Backrest

One of the key causes of lower, middle and upper back problems in the office is the leaning posture adopted by many at work. Many of us use our chairs as little more than stools, ignoring our backrests as we lean closer into our screens. However, this is a mistake. Curving the spine can lead to a host of spinal and muscular problems.

An adjustable backrest allows you to optimise the angle between seat and back, so you can maintain the natural curve of your spine, without placing strain on your back.

Average height of backrests

Chair back height rates as an essential dimension for chair design. Standard back height hovers around 32 to 34 inches, which comfortably supports a wide spectrum of users. However, office chairs regularly offer a wider range in back height adjustment to accommodate different body shapes and sizes.

Best height for backrests

Back support height immensely affects the comfort of those seated. A full shoulder support backrest, such as found in car seats and ergonomic office chairs, measures in at about 26". This size accommodates a comfortable scope ranging from the 5th to the 95th percentile of people.

Incredibly, backrests with heights as diverse as 5, 7, and 9 inches have been found to be equally effective. The depth of the lumbar curve on the backrest of the chair ideally stays between 0.6" and 2.0”.

Is high back or low back chair better?

Choosing between high-back and low-back chairs largely depends on the user’s preference and body type. High-back chairs stand out for offering maximum comfort, thanks to features such as adjustable lumbar support, movable armrests, and tilt functions.

The high backrest effectively supports the whole back, thus reducing the chances of back strain and discomfort.

Bonus: Benefits of High-Back Chairs

Adjustable Lumbar Support

Lower back pain can be very debilitating. When you consider the amount of weight the lower spine and lower back muscles have to support every day, it’s really no surprise these ailments are so common, or that they’re so painful.

However, the vast majority of lower back problems can be easily avoided simply by maintaining the correct seated posture, using a chair that supports the lower back. Lumbar support is designed to fill in the natural curve in the lower back, providing support to the muscles that most need it, and maintaining the natural position of your spine.

And as we are all built differently, the ability to adjust this is crucial to find the best support for your frame.

Is it Good to Have Lumbar Support for an Office Chair?

umbar support in the office chair is highly beneficial. This support helps create a healthy posture by effectively bridging the gap between the seat and the lower back's inward curve. To ensure your lower back is supported while using an office chair, make sure that your backside touches the chair's back, coupled with a cushion that allows a slight arc in your lower back. This arc prevents slouching, lessens strain, and keeps your energy levels stable.

How to add lumbar support to chair

Though many chair models come with built-in lumbar support, you can improvise if yours doesn't. Various special cushions and pillows exist specifically for this purpose. Alternatively, a simple rolled-up towel placed at the lower back can be just as effective. However, always ensure the support maintains the spine's natural curve and doesn't force it into awkward angles.

Adjustable Armrest

Adjustable armrests are a must if you are to avoid repetitive strain injuries (RSI’s) like the dreaded Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. RSI’s occur, as the name suggests, when the tendons and ligaments in are subjected to the same stresses day after day, week after week. These little microaggressions build up to cause inflammation, tendonitis, and much worse ailments.

Anyone who has suffered from this will testify to the importance of correct wrist, shoulder and arm positioning. Typing with the arms bent extends the tendons and ligaments in the arm, making them more prone to strains. Selecting the correct seat height is obviously important here: but then you need to support your arms in the correct position. Which is why you need adjustable armrests.

Are armless chairs better?

The diversity of workspace needs demands an array of office furniture options, among which armless desk chairs are popular. These chairs provide users with a greater range of motion and the freedom to sit in various positions.

More space is a significant advantage when you need to move or switch tasks frequently in a dynamic work environment. While these benefits are undeniable, keep in mind that armless chairs may not be the best option for everyone.

Employee requirements and tasks that involve extended periods of sitting or maintaining stability should also be factored in. According to NIH research, workers may experience discomfort and musculoskeletal disorders from improper sitting positions.

Issues with chairs without armrests

Chairs devoid of armrests may not be everyone's cup of tea; they might affect your posture negatively and potentially dent your productivity.

Discomfort and distraction might plague you throughout the day with improper back support, compromising your performance. According to research published by NCBI, correct ergonomic support is crucial for maintaining body alignment and overall comfort.

Disadvantages of arm chairs

While the benefits of armed chairs are evident, certain potential cons require consideration. Some people find the armrests hinder their ability to move freely.

Also, armrests that are not adjustable can exacerbate bad posture if they do not allow a person's shoulders to remain relaxed and their elbows to bend at a comfortable angle. Arm chairs typically demand more space than their armless counterparts, which can be a downside in smaller offices.

Height Adjustable Seat

For all of the reasons above, making sure you have your seat height correct is crucial. There’s no point in setting all of your other parameters correctly if your chair height is wrong. A height adjustable chair (and seat) is a must for good posture.

office chair dual levers

 

The perfect seat height allows you to move in as close as possible to your desk, whilst keeping your eyes level with the top of your screen. Your arms should be parallel to your body, bent at 90° at the elbow, and be perfectly in line with your keyboard.

Seat Depth

Choosing an office chair with adjustable seat depth will allow you to find the best position to suit the length of your legs. This relieves strain on the hips and knees. it also directly affects the amount of lumbar support provided, as the correct seat depth will help prevent problems.

Adjustable Tilt

Chairs with adjustable tilt allow you to really fine-tune your position and can be especially helpful if you switch between positions often. Even better, once you’re done for the day, you can lean back and enjoy the warm glow of a hard day's work safely done.

360° Revolution

For most of us during the workday, issues come from all angles. Even on a quiet day, we often still need to turn around to access files or papers, or just chat to the intern. That’s why the ability to spin your chair to speak to colleagues, or customers, quickly, and without twisting the spine in the process, is so important.

Many spinal injuries are the result of sudden twisting movements, so a revolving office chair allows you to change the angle of your seat whilst maintaining your optimum seated position.

Castor Wheels

As above, you might not be staying in one position, or indeed in one place, for the whole workday. Being able to easily scoot your office chair over to your drawers or files, or wheel it over to team meetings, means you have your optimum set up in all of these settings.

Footrest

An ergonomic footrest can selectively augment your comfort during taxing workdays. Lengthy spells at your desk or work setup can lead to physical discomfort or tension, specifically in the back.

A footrest can aid in switching postures, efficient weight distribution, and relief from such strains. As demonstrated by trusted ergonomic resources, positioning your feet flat on a footrest abates leg tension and inspires improved posture.

Should you use a footrest at your desk?

Long sitting hours might affect health adversely by compromising the posture and circulatory system. Short stature individuals might seek the benefits of using a footrest to ensure their feet remain in a steady position.

Choosing a footrest at the desk bolsters healthy circulation in the legs and has been researched for ergonomic advantages, as authenticated by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.

Disadvantages of footrests

Footrests could pose minor drawbacks. For instance, footrests made of rigid materials might have sharp edges causing discomfort. Taller individuals might find majority footrests insufficient in height.

gaming chair wheels

Mesh Back For Support And Comfort

Mesh back chairs offer the same level of support, if not more, to chairs with upholstered backs. The key difference is that a mesh back chair allows for airflow, keeping you cool during the workday. Trust us, this can be a godsend on the hotter days! So you can keep cool even when everyone about you is losing theirs.

Chair Seat Material

The material of the seat of the chair itself is important as it affects your comfort. You also want to choose an office chair made in breathable materials that allow airflow, to help keep you cool during the workday.

What Is The Best Office Chair For Sitting Long Hours?

The best office chair for sitting long hours will be the one that allows you to find the best position for you, where the neck, back and arms are all correctly supported. So, there’s no one answer to this question.

Also, this will be defined by the type of work you do. An architect will most likely need a different chair to an administrator, for example. What is certain though, is that you need a chair that is ergonomically designed to provide the support you need.

That means a chair which is fit for purpose, but allows the flexibility to find the seating position which best suits your frame. If you are seated for most of your workday, correct lumbar support and maintaining the correct angle and level to your desk, keyboard and monitor is crucial. See our home office setup guide on the right desk and accessories to pick.

Criteria for choosing a chair long hours

  • Adequate Lumbar Support: The chair should support the lower back and, ideally, have adjustable lumbar support.

  • Adjustable Sections: Chairs with adjustable heights, armrests, and backrests are ideal as they can be customized to your needs.

  • Swivel Base: The chair should ideally swivel to prevent strain from reaching different parts of the desk.

  • Material: Fabric should be breathable to prevent the chair from becoming hot after long hours of sitting.

Best Chairs for Lengthy Streaming Sessions

If you enjoy streaming, chairs that provide superior comfort over long periods will benefit you. While comfort is crucial, durability and flexibility should also be considered. A quality chair possessing these attributes ensures your comfort throughout streaming sessions.

Different Types Of Office Chairs

ergonomic office chairs

Ergonomic Office Chairs

This describes a wide range of chairs, but lets you know that the chair was designed with supporting the human frame, and ease of use, foremost in the designer's mind. Ergonomic chairs are the best for supporting your frame and preventing strains and injuries, and make sure you remain healthy and productive.

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Mesh Office Chairs

Mesh backed office chairs look great, and allow you to stay cool. The breathable mesh material allows for airflow, which is crucial on a long day sitting, especially in summer. A mesh backed office chair will also protect your back, so there is no compromise on your long term wellbeing.

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Executive Office and Boardroom Chairs

Often high back, and a little fancier in design, an ergonomic executive chair offers all of the support and ergonomic features of the office chair, but with a little more luxury. Boardroom chairs will most often be found in meeting spaces, but just because they are not technically workstations, doesn’t mean ergonomics are not important. Far from it.

Sitting all day in meetings can be just as bad for the body. This is why it is important that boardroom chairs are easily adjustable, so everyone using them can find a comfortable position.

Drafting Chairs

Architects or designers often work in an upright position at drafting tables or a standing desk, but this doesn’t mean they don’t need the same level of support in the office. Drafting chairs provide lumbar support and back support, whilst allowing for a high work position. Draft chairs normally feature a footrest so the user can remain comfortable at higher settings.

Task Office Chairs

Task chairs are often the most adaptable and flexible chairs, designed for spaces where they might be used by more than one person. In shared workspaces and hot desking environments, the task chair really comes into its own. It allows for nearly anyone to find a comfortable position easy. Although often not the fanciest of chairs, the task chairs awesome functionality means it is one of the most commonly seen workplace chairs.

Office Stools

Office stools are a nice addition to a standing desk setup. They allow you to take a break without going all the way to a seated position. These adjustable sit stand stools are also designed to keep you active, with some offering a wobble feature which activates your core and keeps you moving throughout the day.

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Gaming Chairs

Chairs built for gamers are becoming more commonplace, even in the office as trendy start-ups look to gamify their office space. Gaming chairs have evolved to be some of the most highly customisable.

Orthopedic Chairs

Orthopedic chairs are a subtype of seating furniture mainly engineered to provide optimal support for your body, focusing primarily on the spine and back. These chairs are tailored to conform to your body's needs, providing the necessary support to maintain proper posture.

With flexible adjustments, they offer relief from discomfort and unease, making your sitting experience much more soothing. The development in orthopedic design has further introduced various amenities, including ergonomic seating for exceptional comfort.

Primarily, the goal of these chairs is to promote effective posture, reducing the risk of muscle strain and joint pressure. This is especially important for people who spend considerable time sitting, such as office employees, students, or individuals with particular health conditions.

Best Chair Type for Prolonged Seating

When searching for the utmost comfort during long periods of sitting, one type of chair stands out: the ergonomic chair. These chairs are designed for comprehensive adjustments to suit your body's optimum comfort.

Regardless of your height, these chairs can be adjusted to ensure your legs and back are adequately supported, a critical feature for taller individuals. An authoritative source cites ergonomic chairs as the best for mitigating strain during lengthy sitting periods.

How much should you pay for an ergonomic chair?

The cost of ergonomic office chairs greatly varies, typically falling within the $200 to $800 bracket. This price range is dictated by features affecting comfort and posture during extended work hours. Top-tier models that offer extensive adjustability may exceed the upper range.

Gaming chairs, a subset of ergonomic chairs, can start around $100 and go beyond $500. Those who are budget-conscious but interested in ergonomics should view our Ace Ergonomic Chair, which offers premium features at a fraction of the price.

Is it worth getting an expensive chair?

Premium ergonomic chairs come with a combination of extended warranties, strong weight capacities, and suitability for lengthy use periods. Let's take, for example, chairs like the Desky Pro + Ergonomic Chair. This chair offers a range of features that make it worth the investment, such as:

  • Height-adjustable arms, back, and headrest that allow you to customize the chair to your body shape and size.
  • Breathable mesh back and fabric seat that provide optimal cooling and comfort for long hours of work.
  • Synchro-tilt mechanism that allows the seat and backrest angle to change together automatically, offering perfect support to your body as you go from upright to reclining positions.
  • Waterfall edge seat that reduces pressure on the back of your legs and improves blood circulation.
  • Sturdy five-caster wheel base that enables easy repositioning and mobility.
  • Capacity to support up to 330 lbs of weight and is suitable for users up to 6’4" tall.
  • Available in black or white finishes to match your workspace aesthetic.

Is An Ergonomic Chair Worth It?

Ergonomic chairs allow you to easily find your most comfortable position, boosting your sense of wellbeing and your productivity in the workplace (or home office!). They also provide support to the areas of the body which suffer most from extended periods of sitting. So, if you want to protect your health in the long term, and remain happy and productive into the future, investing in an ergonomic chair is definitely worth it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do some office chairs not have a headrest?

Adding a headrest to an office chair isn't always beneficial, according to some ergonomic professionals. It may restrict neck mobility and limit the frequency of posture changes, potentially causing stiffness and discomfort. Thus, the absence of a headrest on some ergonomic chairs is by design intended to promote postural versatility and movement during the workday.

What type of chair is best for posture?

When it comes to boosting posture, not all chairs meet the mark. An ideal chair for maintaining good posture is versatile, catering to various body shapes and sizes. Along with adjustable lumbar support, these chairs, perfect for posture, incorporate other essential features.

This adjusts to your lower back, curving away from the back of the chair, promoting posture alignment. It's like the chair is giving your back a comforting hug; this encounter can foster ease, comfort, and proper body alignment.

How can I sit in an office chair without back pain?

To alleviate stress on your back, adhere to the following seating guidelines:

  • Sit close to your desk with your head upright.
  • Keep your upper arms parallel to your spine and your hands at 90-degrees on the work surface.
  • Position your legs at 90 degrees, directly above your ankles.

What type of chair should be used in a workplace?

A workplace chair should offer robust support for various seated postures. Inclusion of an easily adjustable backrest and flexible lumbar support is imperative to cater to lower back support.

A study published in the NIH affirms the importance of adjustable lumbar support in preventing work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Ergonomic chairs, such as the Desky Elite Ergonomic Chair are designed for just this purpose.

What is the best ergonomic position for office chairs?

Choosing a chair that supports your spine is crucial for maintaining a healthy posture. Here is a quick guideline:

  • Adjust the chair's height so that your feet rest flat on the ground or on a footrest, with your thighs parallel to the floor.
  • If your chair has armrests, ensure that your arms comfortably rest on them, with your elbows aligned with your body and your shoulders relaxed.

Following this guidance will encourage you to maintain a good posture, reducing strain and long-term health risks.

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