The Complete Guide to Ergonomic Desk Chairs
It’s the question we get asked every day: What is an ergonomic chair? To explain this very important item of office furniture, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to chair ergonomics. We’ll explain the various benefits and features involved so you can make an informed buying decision that will benefit both your health and your efficiency in the office.
What Does 'Ergonomic' Mean?
If you’re here to get an answer to the question “what is an ergonomic chair”, we’ve got you covered. Because people are spending more time in front of computer screens than ever before, the need for comfortable, supportive office seating has never been greater. That’s why more and more people are thinking carefully about chair ergonomics. As well as chairs, there are a range of ergonomic products designed to make the most of your desk space.
The formal definition of ergonomic is:
The science behind the design, construction or arrangement of things people use to ensure maximum safety and efficiency. In relation to office chairs, this means a design that gives the user support and comfort in order to minimise the risk of pain while sitting at a desk.
What Are the Benefits of an Ergonomic Desk Chair?
Now that we’ve covered the ergonomic chair meaning, we can delve into the many benefits associated with having a comfortable, adaptive and supportive sitting position while working at a desk. Leather, fabric and mesh desk chairs with the full range of adjustment options can all drastically improve your posture and reduce pain in the workplace. There are many benefits associated with chair ergonomics, but here are a few of the most impressive.
Reduces Neck & Back Strain
If you sit in an inappropriate position for hours at a time, you’ll probably suffer from pain in your lower back, shoulders and neck. Over time, the consequences of this scenario can be devastating. Lower back pain is one of the leading causes of office-based work absence. And long-term neck pain can lead to a debilitating condition called spondylosis — the loss of cartilage in the vertebrae.
Seating with your legs planted on the floor, your back straight and your eyes level with what you’re reading will significantly reduce the chances of developing these painful conditions. Office chairs for back pain are designed to manipulate your body into the healthy sitting position required.
What is an ergonomic chair? Well, it’s a chair featuring a range of functions designed to create the best possible sitting position for the individual. A good product will give you the option of making the following changes:
- Headrest adjustments
- Armrest adjustments
- Seat height adjustments
- Backrest tilt adjustments
- Backrest rigidity
Supports Better Posture
As a simple rule of thumb, the best possible sitting position is one that keeps your back straight, your thighs parallel with the floor and your arms at a right angle. Ergonomic desk chairs feature a range of adjustment options to ensure all of these positional objectives are met. You can adapt your seat to your height and body shape — ensuring a good working posture at all times.
Reduces Pressure on Hips
A hard, rigid or uneven seat can make your hips work harder than they need to. Ideally, an upright seated position that keeps your thighs parallel to the floor will minimise the strain on your hips and prevent both short-term and long-term pain. An ergonomic chair may also include additional padding to reduce the pressure further.
If you’re in chronic pain while working at your desk for hours at a time, you won’t be able to fully focus on your work. You may need regular breaks away from your workstation. And even when you’re at your desk, your concentration levels won’t be anywhere near their best. But an ergonomic chair is designed to relieve strain on your body — and therefore pain. You’ll be happier, more motivated and, ultimately, far more productive when you have an ergonomic chair taking the strain.
Studies into sitting positions have revealed that sitting still for just one hour can significantly increase the risk of developing poor blood circulation, heart attacks and strokes. An ergonomic chair can help to reduce this risk in two ways:
- Allows you to change your sitting position regularly
- Promotes a healthy sitting position that can optimise blood circulation
Note: Even with an ergonomic office chair, you should aim to stand up and move around a little every 45 minutes or so.
Features of an Ergonomic Desk Chair
What does an ergonomic chair mean? At first glance, it looks like any other chair. However, a good product gives you a host of adjustment options and enhanced features — designed to manipulate your body into the perfect seated position. The most effective features to look out for when choosing an office chair are:
Adjustable Seat Height
A one-size-fits-all approach to office seating will always result in pain and discomfort for at least a few employees. That’s because the height of people varies so greatly. The most important feature of any ergonomic chair is seat height adjustment, as the optimum sitting position for everyone involves the feet being firmly planted on the ground while the upper legs are perfectly parallel to the floor. In most cases, a simple lever to the side of the chair allows the user to set the seat height in very precise increments.
Lumbar support is a design feature that takes away pressure and strain from the lower back. Without it, users must resort to additional items — such as cushions — to reduce the space between the lower back and the backrest. Made with hygienic, breathable fabrics, today’s lumbar support is more effective than ever. And if it’s designed correctly, it will maintain the natural curvature of your spine for long periods.
Adjustable Tilt & Tilt Lock
Many ergonomic office chairs allow reclining. This is a great feature to have when you’re switching between different tasks — or when you want to relax for a few minutes. But there will be times when you need your upright sitting position to be fixed firmly in place. An adjustable tilt and lock mechanism allows you to find the perfect tilt angle for you that won’t move when the backrest takes your weight.
Adjustable Arm Height
In most cases, the optimum position for your forearms while typing should be at a right angle with your upper arms. For the best results, make your armrests and extension of your desk. To do this, you’ll need to adjust them so they’re exactly the same height as your desk. A good chair allows quick and easy changes to the height of the arms.
Adjustable Seat Depth
When asked “what is an ergonomic chair”, too many retailers forget to talk about seat depth. In simple terms, seat depth is the distance between the back of the seat and the backrest. An ergonomic chair allows you to slide the seat back and forth to find the perfect position for your body. You’ll know you’ve found the perfect seat depth when both your back and thighs are fully supported.
Shorter people have a tendency to perch on the edge of their office chairs to ensure their feet remain on the floor. But sitting like this offers no support for their backs, which can lead to pain and immobility over time.
Built-in Head & Neck Support
A high-quality ergonomic office chair should allow the user to adjust the height of the headrest for maximum head and neck support. If your headrest can take the weight from your neck and upper back, the muscles in those areas can relax. This doesn’t just prevent pain, but it also promotes better circulation.
Note: If you’re sitting perfectly upright to type or use your computer, you won’t need your headrest. However, if you decide to recline for a while, a headrest at the perfect height can maximise comfort and support.
Find an Ergonomic Desk Chair Today
Now that we’ve answered the question “what is an ergonomic chair”, you’ll probably want to start searching for the best products around. At Office Supermarket, we stock a wide selection of ergonomic chairs — made by some of the most respected manufacturers in the world. Whether you’re trying to alleviate chronic back pain or looking for ways to prevent it, we’ve got options for people of all shapes and sizes.
Sometimes referred to as orthopaedic chairs, the best products are those that offer all the possible adjustment options and the full spectrum of seating positions. The Calypso Ergonomic Office Chair, for example, is available with or without arms. Featuring inflatable lumbar support and a curved foam back, this is a great option for everyday use for people trying to prevent back pain in the future.
If you’re looking for an elegant ergonomic office chair that provides maximum support for your back and head, the Titan Ergonomic Office Chair is ideal. Featuring an integral headrest, sculpted lumbar support and padded armrests, this premium product combines aesthetics with ergonomics to create something very special. A robust gas lift delivers seat height adjustment with pinpoint accuracy. And weight tension control makes this particular chair suitable for every possible body type.
Lightweight, manoeuvrable and compact, the Ergo Tag Mesh Office Chair keeps you cool during the long working days of summer. Made with premium black mesh and chrome coloured components, this contemporary chair features a headrest, adjustable armrests and a lock-tilt mechanism with torsion control. Approved by physiotherapists, the Ergo office chair allows the user to make adjustments for their particular body weight.
What Is an Ergonomic Chair? — FAQs
Are ergonomic chairs worth it?
At Office Supermarket, we believe that the health and well-being of employees are of paramount importance. And while ergonomic chairs might be a little more expensive than other options, you simply can’t put a price on the welfare of workers. However, there’s a sound economic reason to invest a little extra in a quality ergonomic chair. Thanks to all the posture-related features, people can create the perfect seating position for them. Over time, this should increase productivity levels in the workplace — more than paying for the slightly more expensive ergonomic chairs.
Are ergonomic chairs comfortable?
By answering the question “what is an ergonomic chair”, we’ve demonstrated that the various features included in a quality product are designed to deliver maximum comfort. The combination of lumbar support and the ability to create the perfect sitting position for the individual means comfort is usually guaranteed. Anyone can make an office chair more comfortable if they have the full range of adjustment options available.
What does an ergonomic workstation look like?
At the centre of every ergonomic workstation is an ergonomic chair. Your sitting position is the single most important aspect of achieving and maintaining a healthy posture while at your desk. But there are other items you can add to maximise your comfort, including footstools, ergonomic keyboards, ergonomic mice, so-called sit-stand desks and accessories such as writing slopes. And if you know how to clean a desk chair, you can maximise your personal comfort and productivity in the workplace.
How do you sit in an ergonomic chair?
The great thing about an ergonomic chair is that it allows you to create the perfect sitting position for your body’s specific dimensions. That said, there are still a few basic principles you must adhere to if you’re going to get the maximum benefits from your chair. For example, while typing or using your computer, your feet should be firmly planted on the floor. Your upper legs should be parallel to the floor — creating a right angle with your lower legs. Your back should be straight but fully supported by the backrest. And your arms should be bent at right angles. Experiment with different adjustment combinations until you’ve achieved your ideal sitting position.