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What Are Armrests For?

24 June 2021

In the field of ergonomics, office chair armrests have been a never-ending source of debate. Many people are curious about the influence armrests to have on their performance. Certain manufacturers believe that adjustable armrests have numerous advantages, while others think that armrests prevent users from getting near the desk.

Modern ergonomic chairs have had adjustable armrests in terms of width and/or pivot. Width adjustment maintains arms close to the body, while pivot motion provides better support for various arm postures. These modifications, particularly the capacity to move arm support inward of the seat borders, were crucial when combined with height adjustment. It allowed natural support of the arm from the shoulder and wrist from the elbow, independent of user size.

Armrests, when appropriately built, can ease the strain on the neck, arms, shoulders, back, and buttocks. Armrests can also lower strains on the spine by roughly 10% of body mass, and just using armrests to stand from a sitting position reduces pressure on the hips by 50%.

Armrests on office chairs

Armrests were basic attachments used on chairs to support employees before the arrival of desktop computers into offices in the 1980s. As time passes, so does the evolution of office equipment. Office chairs have been developed to encourage extended periods of sitting. By the 1990s, the repetitiveness of computer work and the detrimental effects of extended sitting had inspired the creation of workplace ergonomics. This led to the invention of adjustable office chair armrests, which provided support for the user's upper torso.

The relevance of armrests in work chairs extends much further than visual elements, and many people are beginning to recognize the value of keeping your arms comfy while working. Though detractors of armrests on chairs argue that they cause our shoulders to hunch, resulting in poor posture, this appears to be a valid issue. However, the remedy is not to eliminate the requirement for an armrest in a work chair but rather to choose office ergonomic chairs with adequate armrests. An ergonomic office chair armrest serves its role without causing your shoulder blades to shrug and inhibits leaning positions.

Benefits of armrests on office chairs

  • Movement: Armrests are somewhat helpful for individuals who struggle to switch between sitting and standing. Sturdy armrests can be incredibly beneficial to them and keep pressure off their lower backs. 
  • Relief: Armrests enable you to relieve upper back muscle stress and assist your elbows in minimizing muscular exhaustion. It also allows our shoulders to relax and relieves pressure.
  • Posture: If you've been battling with bad posture, it's time to reconsider your seating habits. Armrests allow you to relax your shoulders and avoid leaning forward.

Factors to consider when choosing office chairs with armrests

The presence of armrests in an office chair should not be the sole consideration; nonetheless, selecting the proper size, type, and armrest structure is what truly matters. The issue comes when people neglect to consider the aspects that determine whether an armrest is a good or bad thing in the workplace.


The ideal armrest height range should be high enough to be level with your workstation and low enough to fit under the desk. You can easily reach your desk and work comfortably if you have the proper height. If the armrest is excessively high, it will interfere with the neutral position of the shoulder, inducing muscle stress. Furthermore, if the height is incredibly low, the danger of pressure distribution at the forearm or wrist grows.


Since everyone's shoulder widths vary, it's critical to have armrests that could be pushed closer or farther away from the upper torso, especially if multiple individuals will be using the chair. The ideal seated position is with your elbows exactly under your shoulders. 

When the armrests are overly broad, the shoulders are flexed outwards. The elbow is positioned away from the sides in this stance. The forearms reach the keyboard at an angle, requiring the wrist to bend to type. This awkward positioning might cause discomfort.


Suppose you commonly adopt arm positions with your wrists near to each other without the support of a desk. In that case, rotating armrests can be extremely useful in providing complete coverage of your forearms in certain positions.

Pivoting armrests are significantly more beneficial than ones that rotate outwards. Look for at least a 15-degree tilt.

Instead of hunching and uncomfortably glancing down at your phone when you need to check it, you may sit properly on your chair with your arms well-rested. If you need to return to your workstation, return the armrests to their neutral position.


Some armrests are also length customizable, which means they may move forward and back to provide optimal coverage of your forearms in various postures. Because each arm size is unique, it will adjust to the limbs of both short and tall height to maintain an ergonomic condition. If the armrest is too lengthy, the user may not come as close to the workstation as desired. This broadens the user's reach. It causes the user to slump forward, resulting in a non-neutral back position and shoulder discomfort.


Some people may prefer to have armrests, while others may not. Collaborative office environments are usually the best areas to have this style of chair. It may also be appropriate for small working areas or having a desk with a limited amount of space beneath. Nevertheless, very few chairs with flip-up armrests allow for any adjustment other than flipping upwards. This could be a disadvantage in terms of ergonomics. Take your time thinking about this decision. Make sure the length and width of the armrests are appropriate for your workstation and physique.

Selecting the ideal chair isn't complicated if you understand the significance of having the proper armrests for your chair. An excellent office chair with ergonomic armrests is flexible and suitable for a variety of people's demands. The presence of armrests in the rear of the seat also facilitates more natural shifts from desktops to portable devices. The interaction between the arm and the seat emphasizes the need for today's seating solutions as a whole. Like the human body, all components are interconnected.