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What Makes an Office Chair Ergonomic?

25 March 2024

Using a well-made, ergonomic chair is integral to maintaining good posture. Multiple factors of the chair's design contribute to how it can help you work comfortably and efficiently. Understanding these factors can help you make an informed decision when buying a chair for your home office. Moreover, employers can also furnish their offices to make employees operate optimally at their desks. So, what makes an office chair ergonomic? Well, that's what this article helps answer.

Factors That Make an Office Chair Ergonomic

What does it mean for an office chair to be ergonomic? Ergonomics is a practice that enables someone to work at peak efficiency. Thus, sitting (or standing) in the ideal position is crucial as it helps eliminate strain on your body and helps you focus. Thus, a chair that's ergonomic is one that allows you to sit in that position.

Also, because the sizes and shapes of our bodies vary, chairs should have adjustment options to allow most, if not all, users to sit in the best position. Therefore, here are some factors that can help with making your ergonomic office chair worth the investment.



The Chair Design

Most office chairs have this basic design, but it's still worth pointing out. So, your ergonomic office chair should have the "S" shape design on the backrest. This shape is similar to that of your spine. So, with this design, your lower back will get the necessary support, allowing you to maintain that arch in your lower back.

Seat Height Adjustment

One of the most critical factors is seat height adjustment because it affects the strain on your back and your legs. So, when buying a chair, ensure that it allows you to raise enough so that your hips are slightly above your knees when seated. In that position, your thighs should also be parallel to the floor.

Sitting in this position can help prevent two areas of potential strain and injury. The first is your lower back. Sitting too low will increase the angle between your back and legs to below 90 degrees. In turn, you will force yourself into an awkward seating position. Thus, you may start to experience lower back problems in the long term.

The second area that you can help protect is your knees. Getting up from a low position on your office chair can put excessive strain on your knees. This is because you will be closer to the ground.

Backrest Tilt

The ideal position for your backrest is between 100 to 110 degrees (even taking it to 115 degrees is acceptable). Sitting upright, i.e., at 90 degrees, can put a lot of stress on your pelvis in the long term. Therefore, a chair with a backrest tilt adjustment is handy because it allows you to sit in the correct position.

You are also more likely to slouch forward if you sit at 90 degrees. Thus, you'll compromise the position of your back as you start to spend hours in your chair during work.

Important Tip to Keep in Mind About Backrest Tilt

It's in your best interest to vary the tilt function between the angle range mentioned above when working. Changing the angle throughout the day can help prevent you from sitting in one position for too long. That can help reduce stress on just one part of your body, allowing you to stay healthier in the long term. If your chair allows it, you can open the tilt adjustment.



Lumbar Support

A backrest with adequate lumbar support is crucial for helping you keep your back straight in a rested position. Many ergonomic chairs have basic lumbar support, but some allow you to adjust the support. For example, the BS2 ergonomic office chair by FlexiSpot enables you to move the lumbar support backward and forward. This way, you can ensure that your lower back can rest adequately during a long day at work.

Some chairs may also come with a removable lumbar pillow. The pillow is an alternative to an adjustable lumbar support system. You can also use any cushion on your chair if it doesn't come with either of these two features.

Head Rest

Your office chair should have a headrest so that you can help keep your head in line with your back. Leaning your neck forward can cause neck and upper back strain. You may also start to slouch because of it. You can consider attaching a headrest pillow to the headrest to ensure that you're not leaning too far back on your chair.

Armrests

Armrests are a useful component of an office chair because they help your shoulders rest and keep your elbows in a stationary position.

It's a bonus if your home office chair also has adjustable armrests. This way, you can ensure that your shoulders get the necessary support while helping you keep your elbows in the ideal position. The chair by FlexiSpot linked above allows you to raise the height of your armrests, its rotation, and its distance from your body. Such adjustments can help you find the most comfortable position based on your needs.

For example, if you mostly type, you can rotate the armrest inward to increase the area where your forearms can rest. On the other hand, you may want to rotate it outward when using your mouse a lot. You also have the ability to move each armrest independently to fit your exact needs.

When adjusting the position of your armrests, ensure that your elbows are slightly above your wrists. This way, you'll reduce strain on your elbows, preventing them from being arched. You can help reduce the risk of wrist injuries and conditions.



The Materials of the Chair

Three of the most common materials for ergonomic office chairs include leather, PU leather, and mesh. The most expensive of these three is leather.

Leather offers great durability and exceptional comfort, especially when padded with soft cushioning. However, it's not a breathable material, so you may need to get off your seat frequently to ensure all of your body is getting enough ventilation. PU leather is similar but is less expensive and does not have the same level of durability.

Mesh is easily the most breathable material. That is why it's a common choice for most high-quality home office chairs. It's also one of the more affordable options when compared to its leather counterpart. Therefore, you can sit for long periods in your chair without necessarily feeling uncomfortable. Moreover, high-quality mesh materials like the one of the BS2 chair help prevent damage to soft fabrics, preventing your clothes from wearing quickly.

Thus, the materials of the chair contribute to its ergonomics because it affects comfort and efficiency (for example, working for long periods due to its breathability).

Wheels to Move the Chair Around

Having casters on your ergonomic office chair is not a necessary feature but can contribute to office ergonomics. For example, it can allow you to move around from your desk to a file cabinet near your desk without needing to get off your seat. Thus, you can help prevent any time wastage by making movement more accessible in your workspace.



Additional Tips to Improve Workplace Ergonomics

In addition to getting a good chair for your home office or workplace, there are some other ergonomics tips you can follow to stay healthier and happier during work than before. Here's what you should keep in mind.

1. Keep your seat close enough to your desk. By doing so, you'll help keep your elbows at about 90 degrees. You are more likely to avoid leaning forward in this position.

2. Take frequent breaks during work. In addition to your lunch break, make it a point to get off your seat once every hour. It's even better if you stretch your muscles at this point.

3. Position your monitor screen at the best height. The upper half of your screen should be at eye level. This position will help prevent neck strain because you won't need to look up or downward. You also can help keep your head in line with your back to maintain appropriate posture.

4. Keep your feet flat on the ground. Do not let them dangle because that can hurt your hips and lower back. Moreover, don't keep your heels up because you'll put a strain on your calf muscles.

Last Few Words

We hope the answer to the question "what makes an office chair ergonomic?" is now clear. You must remember that adjustability in any home office chair is crucial because it helps make sure that people of different shapes and sizes can use the chair comfortably. So, make sure to consider well-made chairs with such options because you are investing in your long-term health as well. Practicing office ergonomics can help you prevent various health issues in different parts of your body, and that should be your first priority always.