One of the undeniable facts about working for any company and honestly even working for your own small business is that you’ll most likely spend a substantial amount of time sitting in an office chair of some sort. This position alone is, unfortunately, one that will produce added stress to the body and more specifically the spinal column. In order to combat this additional stress, it’s imperative to take the necessary measures to ensure that your posture is correct and also that lower back is properly supported. The most effective way of accomplishing this task is to research and invest in an office chair that is ergonomically sound. [no_toc]
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What is an Ergonomic Chair?
Before we can go into detail as to how to choose the best ergonomic office chair, it’s only right that we first describe what is actually meant when the term ergonomic chair is thrown out there. According to Herman Miller (the leader in ergonomic office furniture), a chair becomes ergonomic when it specifically adapts to its user’s size, workstation, and daily tasks. In other words, an office chair that is specifically designed around persons overall productivity can be correctly labeled as ergonomic.
So How Do I Choose the Right Ergonomic Chair Then?
Now that you understand what an ergonomic office chair is the question remains as to which one is best. The fact is that there are many ordinary computer chairs that claim to be ergonomic but in actuality are no more than a fancy leather chair with no real back support. While there isn’t a singular “best office chair” that exists (due to the fact that every individual has a different body structure and thus requires certain features) one can make an informed decision by simply knowing which features that good ergonomic chairs possess.
#1 A first feature that all ergonomic office chairs should possess is the ability to adjust the height of the seat. In most cases, this is done with the use of a pneumatic level and is quite simple to accomplish. The benefit of this feature is that it allows the person seated in the chair to properly place their feet flat on the floor. This position is one that promotes proper blood flow and improves overall concentration during long work sessions.
#2 Secondly, a good ergonomic chair should be able to accommodate both small and large people simultaneously. In order to do this proper seat depth and width are required. Broken down into easy to understand terms, this means that an individual that is seated in the chair should be able to comfortably rest his or her back on the backrest while still keeping a two to the five-inch gap of space between the back of the knees and the lip of the chair seat. In most cases, this requires an adjustable tilt on the chair being used.
#3 Thirdly, if you really want to correctly call your task chair ergonomic, then it must properly support your spine. A human spine is naturally curved inward and so a good office chair must accommodate this unchangeable feature about our bodies. Failure to do so certainly leads to a flattening of the spine’s natural curve which in turn creates unnecessary stress and strain on the lower spine. On an office chair, this translates to having the ability to properly adjust the back of the chair so it matches up with the spine of the person seated.
The next feature of a great ergonomic chair is an adjustable backrest. As previously stated the backrest should properly support the natural curve of the spine and as no two backs are the same (meaning width or height) backrest adjustment is a must on any good office chair.
#5 The fifth thing that defines a good ergonomic office chair is armrests that are adjustable. When seated in the proper position, your elbows should form a 90-degree angle and your forearm should only be lightly resting on the armrests. Putting unnecessary weight on your forearms can lead to wrist and hand problems down the line, therefore one should adjust their armrests to prevent this.
#6 Finally, the material used to make your ergonomic chair is an important factor that should not be overlooked. On the market today you see a ton of leather office chair and would possibly assume that leather is a superior product but the reality would surprise you. A mesh ergonomic chair is actually preferred because of the fact that material is breathable yet still comfortable enough to sit on for prolonged periods of time.
These six basic features outline not only the benefits but also the makings of a quality ergonomic chair. Be sure to grade your own computer/office/task chair on them to reveal as to whether or not it should be truly labeled “ergonomic”.
If you want something outside your usual everyday office chair, then fortunately for you there are a variety of styles of ergonomic chairs to choose from. The great thing about each of these ergonomic chairs is that although they aren’t your traditional office chair, they still were all designed to provide support, comfort and promote healthy posture.
Two Nontraditional Ergonomic Chairs
#1 Ergonomic ball chair – The first nontraditional office chair we will discuss is the ergonomic ball chair. As the name implies, it is simply a ball that is big enough to hold the weight of a user in ordinary office usage. Where this differs is that the user of this chair is actually using his or her core abdominal muscles as well as back muscles to stabilize themselves. While sitting in this chair, a slight bouncing is encouraged as it actually promotes proper and healthy circulation in the legs, while simultaneously reducing stress buildup in the other parts of the body.
The major of the advantage of a ball ergonomic chair is that slouching while sitting in this chair is impossible because in order to sit in this chair proper posture must be in place or you will fall off. Of course, these chairs include various accessories to fit under different desk sizes and due to the fact that all men were not created the same height. This chair definitely takes some getting used to but after regular usage, the user will see a dramatic improvement in their posture and overall productivity.
#2 The saddle chair – The second and last ergonomic chair we will be discussed is the saddle chair. The saddle ergonomic chair can either be used as a traditional office computer chair or a desk chair. As the name implies the chair actually is shaped like a horse’s saddle and the position that is used on this chair is a cross between sitting and standing. Due to this unique position, the legs are allowed to hang naturally which again forces the lumbar region into a proper and healthy posture.
Most often doctors recommend saddling ergonomic chairs for patients that have been complaining of chronic back problems as they are an effective method to strengthen those same back muscles. Furthermore, physicians generally will recommend these office chairs to customers or patients that have circulation issues as the natural seated position while in this chair promotes excellent blood circulation.