How To Buy The Best Office Chair
If you work in any type of office, you most likely spend a great deal of your workday sitting at a desk. If you are in a field with particularly grueling demands, spending ten or more hours sitting and staring at a computer screen is not unheard of. This takes a heavy toll on your body, particularly on your back, neck, shoulders and hips.
A good office chair is crucial to preventing muscle and skeletal strain and pain. If you end your days sore and feeling far older than your age, if your body is protesting when you stand up, if your productivity is down due to pain, investing in an ergonomically-correct, good-quality office chair will make a huge difference in how you feel at the end of a long day.
Proper Sitting Position
While every individual has slightly different needs, there are general guidelines for the most ergonomically correct sitting position. These guidelines include:
- Shift your position periodically.
- Get up to stretch at least once every 45 minutes.
- Feet should be flat on the floor.
- Keep knees aligned with the hips, and ankles aligned with the knees.
- Hip, knee and ankle joints should be slightly open.
- Your back should be nearly straight.
- Hold your head in alignment with your spine.
- Bend elbows between 90 degrees and 120 degrees.
- Keep wrists aligned with your forearms.
- Shoulders should be relaxed.
- Your computer screen should be no more than 30 degrees below your line of sight.
Desirable Attributes Of An Office Chair
The more time you spend sitting, the more important it is to have a good chair. While good looks and style are important, your final decision should be based on comfortable support. You might spend more time in your office chair than you do in your bed, so do not scrimp when it comes to buying a chair that can be adjusted in multiple ways to fit your body. Your chair should provide as many as possible of the following five adjustment features to provide the most ergonomic support.
Back Height: Good lumbar support is the most important factor for avoiding lower back pain at the end of the day. You should be able to adjust the height of the chair’s back so the lumbar pad hits right against your lower back. This supports the natural curve of your spine and prevents fatigue.
Seat Height: Even the most basic office chair allows you to adjust the seat height. You should be able to keep your feet flat on the floor with your knees in alignment or slightly lower than your hips, and your back against the lumbar support.
Seat Depth: While sitting with your back against the chair’s lumbar support, your knees should be at least 2 inches away from the edge of the chair seat. An adjustable seat depth lets you find that sweet spot.
Seat Tilt: The more hours you spend in your chair, the more important seat tilt becomes. A slight forward tilt to the seat puts your hips in a more natural, comfortable position, and avoids painful pressure on the backs of your thighs. If the seat tilt is not adjustable, then there should at least be a downward slant to the front of the chair seat cushion, called a waterfall seat.
Arm Height: The armrests should hold your arms level with the height of your desk, and in alignment with your shoulders. Your shoulders should be in a natural position, with no upward hunching or pressing against your body.
Other important features of a good office chair include:
- Five-wheel base for easy movement around the office
- Swiveling frame so you can reach what you need without stretching
- Steel or aluminum base for strength and durability
- Chair seat wide enough for at least an inch of clearance on both sides of your thighs
- Leather or mesh chair coverings. Leather is the most luxurious and stylish, but can be hot. Mesh allows better air circulation, and won’t stick to bare skin.
Once you start shopping for an office chair, you will quickly realize there are a bewildering number of brands, styles and prices. The following chairs receive enthusiastic thumb-ups from buyers and high praise in reviews.
Aeron Chair by Herman Miller
One of the forerunners of the ergonomic office chair revolution, the Aeron is available in a variety of styles and sizes to suit any customer’s needs. Its multitude of adjustable features allows you to tailor the chair for your needs, and look stylish at the same time.
Think Chair by Steelcase
While the Think Chair looks deceptively simple and elegant, it offers multiple adjustment points. It also has built-in flexors in the seat, back and front-seat edge that automatically conform to your posture and hold you in the most comfortable sitting position.
Boss LeatherPlus Executive Chair
This imposing-looking chair is stylish enough for the boss and comfortable enough for anyone who will be putting in long hours at the office. It does not have as many adjustable features as some other chairs, but it provides excellent support and comfort at a budget price.
Alera Fraze High-Back Chair
Heavily padded, this comfortable seat has a futuristic look reminiscent of a space captain’s chair. The cushioning will keep your back, legs and arms comfortable, and you can adjust height and tilt for further refining.
Herman Miller Fully Loaded Mirra Chair
This space-age looking chair has a mesh back that automatically shapes itself to the contours of your body for supreme comfort, while only needing a few adjustments to fine-tune the fit. Available in a wide range of colors, the Mirra will improve the look of your office along with your sitting comfort.
If your job requires long hours hunched over a computer screen, purchasing a good quality, ergonomic office chair will greatly improve your comfort and your productivity. Your back will thank you while you wonder why you waited so long.