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What Are the Ergonomics of a Chair?

22 February 2024

Prolonged sitting has a fair number of consequences, and this naturally becomes a cause for concern for people who spend a long time sitting. For many of us, because of the nature of our work, we do spend at least 30 hours a week sitting at work.

This is bad, not only because sitting for long periods of time comes with its own risks, but also because most chairs that are used in offices are far from ideal for this long stretch of sitting.

This is why ergonomic chairs are suddenly all the rage nowadays, and why you can find all sorts of office chairs.

What Makes a Chair Ergonomic?

What are the ergonomics of a chair?

Most ergonomic office chairs will have a number of features that help with managing your posture and making sure you're sitting correctly. When designing these chairs, ergonomists carefully observe how people interact with the environment they work in and deduce how to fix any issues.

Ergonomic chairs, when set up correctly, can help you adopt good posture, maintain said posture and keep you from suffering from the negative effects of bad posture - such as injuries, aches or pains, and even musculoskeletal disorders that can last for a very long time.

A lot of features of ergonomic chairs have to do with adjustment. This is because different people have different body shapes and stature, and therefore need the chair to fit around their bodies in a different way to maintain good posture.



Seat Width & Depth Adjustment

The depth of the chair needs to be adjustable so that you can determine how much support your thighs are receiving. The space you should have between the back of your knees and the chair itself should be about three fingers wide.

Ergonomic chairs have seat sliders so you can adjust the depth how you like to make sure you're sitting properly.

However, because designers obviously can't cater to everyone, chairs are designed around the average. So if your body type falls within a specific range, you'll be fine with a regular ergonomic chair. For some, however, the chair will not be enough and they may need additional ergonomic materials to make sure they're sitting properly.



Height Adjustment

Another major feature of ergonomic chairs is the height adjustment. Most chairs do have this, and come with a gas lift so you can shift your chair higher or lower based on your height. This is important because the right height means that your forearms stay in-line with your desk so you're not putting pressure on your shoulders or elbows.

The correct height also means that your neck stays in the right position. You should not be looking up or down while you work, and your arms should be at a 90 degree angle to your body. Your legs should be flat on the ground - or on a surface - and your knees should be bent at or slightly below your hips.

This is only possible if your chair allows you to adjust its height, because again, everyone has a different body shape and will need a chair at different heights to achieve this.



Adjustable Armrests

Not every ergonomic chair comes with adjustable armrests, but it should. Armrests are important not only to keep your arms at the required 90 degree angle, but also to make sure that your shoulders remain supported and you don't strain your arm.

Ergonomic armrests also usually come with width adjustment so that your arms stay close to the body. You want your arms to be in line with your torso and bent at 90 degrees at the elbow. With adjustable armrests, this becomes possible.



Back Support

Another major feature of ergonomic chairs is that they should offer enough back support - particularly to the lumbar region. The backrest of these chairs is usually height adjustable so you can set it at whatever position is most comfortable for you and provides enough support.

A good chair will be able to match the contours of your spine and keep you supported.

Good chairs also come with tilt mechanisms and other such options that make sure that your spine remains supported even when you make larger movements, or lean back.

Sometimes, the backrest will come with a headrest as well, that helps support the neck and the back of the head. This is important when it comes to reducing the tension in your shoulders and upper torso. However, not all chairs come with a headrest (in fact, most don't) but you can always choose to add one yourself.



Five Star Base

A five star base is the five legs of the chair that you find in most office chairs. This is not just an optional feature, but somewhat of a requirement by the DSE for offices that have 5 or more screen users. A five star base helps with keeping the chair from tipping when you move around in it, so you can safely adjust your posture. It also helps you reach out for different parts of your desk without putting much strain on yourself.

The base is usually made of aluminum so it's very strong and durable, and keeps you stable. The castors on the chair should be selected based on the type of environment you work in. On hard flooring, you need break loaded castors, while on softer surfaces like carpet, you need soft floor castors.

You might not have known that a five star base is less about moving around in the office and more about ergonomics but don't worry, most people don't. A five star base does offer a lot of support, so if ergonomics is a priority for you, make sure your chair has one.



Fabric

You'd be surprised how much the fabric of your chair can affect your wellbeing! Good ergonomic chairs would have suitable fabric and padding to make sure that the frame of the chair doesn't dig into your back uncomfortably. You should be able to lean back in your chair without hurting yourself, even if you stay that way for long periods.

The padding of the chair should be firm but not so firm that it becomes hard. You should be able to sit in your chair for a decent amount of time without feeling uncomfortable.

Chair covers should also be easy to wash and durable so that they don't wear out too easily from use. Durable fabric and covers will help the chair last longer.

This should also be coupled with breathable fabric and material. This means that the fabric should allow air and moisture to pass through easily, so that the air circulation around your body doesn't die out when you're sitting for long periods of time.

Breathable fabric helps keep you cool and comfortable.



FlexiSpot's Essential Office Chair (C3)

If you're looking for an ergonomic office chair with all the features needed to keep you protected during a long work day, the Essential Office chair (C3) by FlexiSpot is your answer.

It provides reliable ergonomic support in multiple ways. For one, it comes with the lifting mechanism that allows you to adjust the height of the chair to whatever you need so you can sit comfortably. Height adjustment is practically a necessity for office chairs since a very large number of injuries that stem from sitting too long actually come from working at the wrong height.

The chair also provides good lumbar support so your back remains safe and the pressure in your body can be released. Back support is important since back problems don't go away so easily. The chair also has a lock-in tilt position, which lets you lock the chair at an angle whenever you want to rest. With this chair, you can spend your lunch break right there at your desk if you want to nap, or just take a five minute breather between different tasks.

There are also adjustable armrests attached to the chair. These are not only liftable, in that you can adjust the height, but come in 3 adjustable positions so you can pick whichever one works best for you and work at that. This keeps your arms, wrists and shoulders supported.

The chair also has an adjustable lifting headrest. The headrest makes sure your neck and the back of your head gets adequate support, and you can also adjust the height of the headrest to meet your needs better. It also has an attached hanger at the back, so that if you want to take off your coat, you can take care of that easily.

The chair is made of mesh material, which is very breathable and allows air to pass through, so you don't end up tired and sweaty after a long day of work. It also has a seat depth of about 21 inches, which should work out for most people.

If you're looking for a good ergonomic chair, the FlexiSpot Essential Office chair (C3) is a great option. FlexiSpot's items are designed with ergonomics and safety in mind, and can easily cater to all your office needs.