Ergonomics Buying Guide: How to Get the Right Office Chair for You
Here at Dual Monitors Guide we always emphasize on the importance of ergonomics, which is why we feature and review wide range ergonomic products, ranging from desks and chairs, workstations, monitor stands and LCD arms, keyboards and mouse, etc. We have touched ergonomic office chair many times in our past posts, but in this entry, we will dig deeper into this subject matter to help you find the best one that suits your body’s specific ergonomic needs and your nature of work.
(Image from Amazon)
Ergonomic office chair are great for people who sit on their chair and work on their workstations for hours, most especially those who work in front of their computer all day. Ergonomic chairs provide excellent back support, providing comfort and help alleviate lower back pain and neck and shoulder pain which all stems from prolonged sitting and putting the body in bad positions. The curved design of ergonomic office chair is aimed for our back’s lumbar support (supports spine’s natural curve) to discourage slouching and help keep the spine in healthy position.
Getting the Right Ergonomic Office Chair
How the Chair Fits and Provides Support to Your Lower Back
With hundreds of choices in home and office solution stores, and thousands of options online, it can be tough for anyone to find the right office chair to fit his specific ergonomic needs. Indeed, there are lots of things that should be considered, not just from the style, build and quality of the chair, but also the seat’s performance in relation to users’ ergonomic needs. Two of the most common factors are the height adjustment and depth lumbar adjustment. These two factors determines the type of support it can provide to the body, especially to the lower back, which gets all the stress in prolonged sitting.
Depending on your nature of work, there are ergonomic office chairs equipped with features to help you perform certain tasks with minimal strain for your body. Though feature-packed products are usually more expensive, their benefits justify their price tags, as they can greatly help in your work efficiency and productivity.
To help you find the right office chair for you, this buying guide from Dual Monitors Guide will enumerate the most important features you need to look for at brick and mortar home and office supply retailer stores as well as online merchants like Amazon.
Different Types of Ergonomic Office Chairs
Style and types plays a big role in the functionality of an office chair. Aside from the basic ergonomic chair, unique types provide specific support such as ergonomic ball chair and ergonomic knee chair. Both may look a little different from each other, but provide the same kind of back support. There is no such thing as perfect office chair, as there are no one-size fits all solutions for ergonomics. Each of us have unique ergonomic needs and comfort preference. It is your job as a shopper to search for the best chair that fits your needs.
Some Unique Options
Ergonomic Knee Chair
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Designed to put you in a kneeling-like position rather than sitting on a flat surface, ergonomic knee chair comes with some padded elements to provide good knee and back support. Users have to distribute their weight evenly to the two pads to remove some weight on the knees. Some chairs also come with back pad for users to lean back. The pads can also adjust in height and in angle to fit every user’s specific needs, particularly on kneeling steepness, to keep the chair comfortable.
This chair greatly reduces stress and pain from extended sitting. It is best for used for office settings and is available in different materials, colors and designs. Those products that uses wood and leather finish are more expensive.
There’s a bar that attaches the knee pad to the chair. Users have to slip into this bar to sit and use this type of chair.
Ergonomic Ball Chair
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Ergonomic ball chair looks like an exercise ball attached to a chair, and that is indeed the concept behind this piece of office furniture. It does look odd, but it is really designed for office use. This product combines the features of a standard office chair and inflatable ball to encourage active seating. This means users will be forced to maintain good balance, posture and keep their spine aligned as they sit, activating core muscles. This chair emphasizes the importance of proper posture, which is very important especially for people who work on extended period of time and experience lower back discomfort and pain.
Many ergonomic ball chairs comes with back support and armrests, as well as pump to add and decrease air inside the ball. This type of chair can accommodate users of any weight and size, and most models can adjust height to pair with different desk surface elevations.
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Balls for ergonomic ball chairs come in two different styles: the egg shaped (a.k.a Swiss egg chair) and fully round ball. Most computer users prefer the latter though, as its shape makes it more comfortable to use. Both may need a little learning curve, especially if the user is not used to balancing on an exercise ball.
Basic Features to Look for in Ergonomic Office Chairs
Many office chair manufacturers make different product lines, and each product line usually emphasizes on a set of features that fits specific type of user. Build quality and optimum support are the two most important aspects to look for. But most products available in the market today bring more things to the table, making it even harder for shoppers to choose the right one. Let’s take a closer look at these features:
Seat and Lumbar Support
The seat is where you will rest your behind and support your whole weight. Thus, it should make you feel comfortable even for hours of sitting.
Make sure the fabric material is breathable. Leather and vinyl are also good options, as they can last longer, however, they are usually expensive. Also, make sure there’s comfortable padding so you can have better time sitting.
Armrest as its name suggests, provides support for your arms, shoulders, and wrist. A good ergonomic office chair come armrest that can fit to your specific needs. Look for an office chair with adjustable armrest so you can rest your elbows and keep them close to the side of your body. This will help minimize the stress from your shoulders.
It can be really tempting to rest your arms on your armrest, but this is actually not a good idea, as it puts your arms and shoulders in awkward position, which can lead into serious injuries in the long run, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Good computer sitting posture includes arms at surface level of the desk, eye level slightly above the top bezel of the monitor, thighs horizontal to the floor and knees slightly higher than the hips. However, the height of both our desk and chair can vary from time to time, depending on the work you want to do, and your comfort level.
An office chair should have a height adjustment range of 16 inches to 21 inches from the ground. This adjustment allows users to plant their feet firmly on the floor and keep their legs in good position to encourage good posture.
Seat Width and Depth
The width determines the comfort of the backrest of the chair. Typically, office chairs width ranges from 12 inches to 19 inches. In choosing office chairs, look for backrests that can adjust its tilt angle (forward and backward) to fully provide support for your back. There are ergonomic chairs with separate backrest upgrades. Should you opt to purchase the backrest separately, look backrest with adjustable height and angle (forward and backward tilt).
Depth of the office chair determines how you can lean back and put your back against the backrest. Most chairs have a depth level of 17 inches to 20 inches across. Again, like in most aspects, there are no hard and fast rules in terms of depth, as our needs vary from each other, and can also change from time to time. A good rule of thumb however, is to still have a few inches of space from the back of the knees to the chair’s seat.
Swivel, Tilt or Recline Function
Swivel is also another important factor for ergonomic office chair, particularly for workstations, as it allow users to reach objects and points in your workstation without stretching your body excessively.
Tilt and recline are two important comfort features that plays a big part in your day-to-day grind in your workstation. Being able to recline to a proper angle, you allow your body to get the rest and support it needs, as much of your weight is focused on the back of the chair. Recline lets you give your back a rest while still seeing your work, as you can still reach for your keyboard and mouse without straining our arms, shoulders and eyes.
Also, being able to tilt or recline promotes better blood flow throughout the body, which is very important when sitting in extended period of time.
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There are lots of different designs and styles of office chairs out there, which can make the choosing even more confusing for anyone. There is no one fixed rule for choosing the best seat to fit your needs, as we all have different needs and preferences. However, there are basic features you can look for to help yourself find the best ergonomic office chair suited for your body type and nature of work.
Do Your Homework
The best way to get the bung for your buck is to do your own research. You can start by looking researching your options online. Surely, there are many local brick and mortar office supplies stores and home furnishing stores in your area, but the widest selection at the best prices can be found online, such as online retailers like Amazon. Researching online gives you the ability to compare and contrast products easily, read reviews and know more about products’ build quality and performance through real purchases.
(Image from Amazon)
What We Recommend
There are quite a lot of great choices in Amazon, you can start your search at Best Seller selections. One of the best rated office chairs in Amazon right now is the SPACE Seating Professional Dark Air Grid Back from Office Star. This chair has uses an impressive eco leather seat with mesh which combines comfort, durability and breathability. The one-touch pneumatic seat adjustment makes height adjustment easy and convenient for users, while the 2-to-1 Synchro Tilt Control with Adjustable Tilt Tension keeps users comfortable in their workstation. The height adjustable angled arms come with soft PU pads, providing great comfort for your arms, and shoulders as well.
When looking for an ergonomic office chair, consider how it moves in relation to your movement and workstation needs. You should be able to move freely in your workspace, without any hindrance. If you’re using a larger desk, an office chair with wheels or swiveling seat may be the best option for you. Also, make sure you shop for chairs that offer fully adjustable features, as they provide better flexibility and versatility.
For more ergonomic and workstation buying guides, check out Dual Monitors Guide today!