What is an Office Chair?
We all know that when it comes to an office chair, not all models are created equal. We also know that one size does not fit all. When you’re looking for the perfect office chair for you, you’re going to need to do a bit of research to find it. This is one of those situations where you need to do research online, but you’re also going to have to sit in a number of different models to see what they feel like on your back. Did you know that many people spend more time in their office chair than they do in their bed? People spend thousands of dollars on the proper mattress, but there’s no reason to spend that much on an office chair to achieve the ultimate in comfort. When you find that perfect office chair for you, you’re going to be preventing and reducing back, neck, and leg pain throughout the day, and enjoying more productive time at your desk. View our Office Chair Buyers guide for more info.
The best chairs on the market not only look good, but they provide premium support for your spine and back, while promoting good posture. There are so many models of chair on the market that it can seem overwhelming. Once you understand how the different parts of the office chair affect your body, it will help you to make the best choice. Many stylish and comfortable chairs can be purchased via internet merchants, but it’s also smart to scope out office supply stores, department stores, and furniture stores for the model that’s just right for you.
Ergonomics vs. Style
If you’re not familiar with ergonomics, it’s basically the science of work. Things that are ergonomically designed are meant to enhance the processes, work spaces, and tools in the work place, which effect the human body. The goal is to eliminate stress to the body during work, and that’s why an ergonomic office chair is meant to alleviate stress to your body, while providing support to your back. When you are in a chair that creates good posture throughout the day, you’re going to be a healthier worker.
We spend a tremendous amount of time each week in our office chairs, and you definitely want to find an office chair that is ergonomically sound to help you through those long days. When your office chair works with your body instead of against it, you’re going to find that your long term health will be enhanced. When you’re looking for the right ergonomic chair for you, there are many things to consider.
- User’s Size: This is an important consideration when looking for the right ergonomic chair. We are all different, and size plays a big role in which chair you should select. In general, it is considered that the optimal chair height is 1/4 of the user’s height, but this is only a rule of thumb. Keep in mind that everyone’s torso-to-leg ratio is different.
- How the Chair Will Be Used: There is a lot of different kinds of work being done at a desk, so what chair you will choose should be best for that type of work. For instance, a computer operator will require a different kind of chair than a dentist. Know how you’re going to use the chair before you buy one.
- Style: Style plays a huge role in what chair you’ll select, especially when it’s going to be used in a professional environment. Take for instance the fact that a contemporary styled chair would look tremendously out of place in a traditional office space. Take into account the decor of where the chair will be placed.
There’s no reason why you need to compromise ergonomics for style, and vice versa. You can find a traditional looking office chair that is still ergonomically sound, as well as an ergonomic contemporary design. With tons of colors and looks to choose from, you can find the perfect chair that suits your decor, while still supporting your spine in the proper fashion.
Types of Office Chairs
It’s important to consider the benefits and limitations of certain kinds of office chairs before you make a purchase. There are many different kinds of office chairs on the market, and there’s no one type that is best for each body. Various kinds of chairs will definitely fit certain body sizes and shapes better than others, though. We have narrowed it down to 6 different kinds of office chairs that you will find available today.
- Traditional Chairs: A traditional, or conventional, office chair is a type that comes to mind when you think of office chairs in general. You can find these with ergonomic elements, or without, and almost all of them have a cushioned seat covered with either leather, vinyl, or fabric. Sometimes the seat is made out of mesh. You’ll find that some models have armrests and headrests, and others will not have either of these. Most conventional office chairs will be supported by a swivel base, with casters or four legs. The ergonomic version of the traditional chair will have features which reduce stress to the body throughout the day. These features can include adjustable seat depth, adjustable seat height, lumbar support, and adjustable back height.
- Kneeling Chairs: These aren’t quite as in fashion anymore, but they are still on the market. Also known as Balans, the kneeling chairs put the worker in a position that is like an elevated kneeling posture. This orientation helps to reduce lower back pain and promotes proper spinal alignment. By dropping the thighs to a 60 to 70 degree angle, instead of the traditional 90 degree angle of sitting, the kneeling chair helps to elongate the body, which eliminates stress on the lower back. Not everyone can benefit from this chair, and it doesn’t sit well against a desk.
- Exercise Ball Chairs: This is a completely unique kind of chair, and as the name indicates, it uses a large ball to support the user for long durations of being seated. A great advantage to this kind of chair is that it promotes active sitting and movement. The slight bounce of the ball keeps the legs moving which will keep your muscles busy, while stimulating circulation. This will help to reduce stress and fatigue over time. What you’re basically doing in this unique chair is constantly working your body into the right balance, and therefore keeping your muscles active and loose. It’s difficult to slouch or hunch over in this kind of chair because the seat almost requires you to be in perfect posture. You’ll find that these chairs come in a number of different sizes and colors, and some come with a base frame that has wheels and casters.
- Saddle Chairs: Basically, when you sit on a saddle chair you’re sitting as if you were on a horse. There are no back rests on a saddle chair, and the idea behind the design is that it puts the hips and knees in a 135 degree angle, instead of the traditional 90 degree angle. Saddle chairs put you 8-12 inches higher than a traditional chair, and putting your body in this position keeps the spine in the natural S shape that eliminates shoulder and back pain. You can find the seat in either one solid piece or two divided pieces, and this kind of chair is supposedly healthier for men to use. You can adjust both the height of the seat and the amount of tilt, dependent upon your comfort level. Since this seat is higher than a traditional chair, you’ll need to have a desk that is higher as well. That’s why you will often find desks that can be height adjusted to suit the kind of chair you purchase.
- Recliner Chairs: Many people find that sitting in a reclined position is most comfortable for their spines. If you feel pain associated with lumbar spinal stenosis or any degenerative disc disease, then you will probably experience more comfort in a reclining position that props up your feet. Many of these chairs will come with a small table that attaches and swivels over the lap, allowing you to comfortably work on your laptop in a reclined position.
Office Chair Features
There are many features that you can find that come with your office chair, no matter what type or style. When deciding which office chair is right for you, there are the following features that you should consider:
Not every office chair on the market has a backrest. If your chair does, however, then make sure that it is adjustable to prevent any discomfort when you’re seated for a long time. Most backrests are 12 to 19 inches wide, and should your backrest be separate from the seat, do make sure that the height and angle are adjustable. You also want to look for backrests that support the unique curve of your spine, and pay special attention to good lumbar spine support. Should the seat and backrest be a single piece, you want to look for a backrest that can still be adjusted forward and backward, also with a locking mechanism to secure it from falling too far backwards.
You’ll find that most executive chairs have backrests that will tilt, which gives the lower back proper support. It’s not as common to find an office chair that allows for adjustment of the height of the backrest. When you have this feature, it makes it possible for you to adjust the backrest according to your height so that it hits the proper spot of your lumbar spine.
It’s important to never overlook the chair height, since everyone comes in different shapes and sizes. The height of the office chair should be adjustable so that it fits many body types. Look for a chair that features a pneumatic adjustment level that will be located below the seat. Any seat height that is between 16 and 21 inches should be suitable for most adults, but maybe not necessarily for you. Your feet should be comfortably able to sit on the floor while sitting in the chair, with your thighs horizontal and arms at the same height as the desk.
As we said, people come in all different sizes and shapes, and that’s why it’s smart to find an office chair that has a seat with enough depth and width to support you comfortably. The width of an office chair seat is generally within 17 and 20 inches, and it’s important that the seat be deep enough that you can sit with your back against the backrest with 2 to 4 inches between the back of your knees and the front of the seat. It’s possible to purchase an office chair that has a seat that can be adjusted forward and backward for the ultimate in ergonomic support.
The lumbar support for the lower back is incredibly important when you want the best ergonomic office chair. The lumbar spine has a natural, unique curvature, and sitting for long periods of time without proper support will lead to slouching and hunching. This will flatten the natural curve of your spine and adds unwanted strain. Any good office chair with ergonomic support will fit you properly with a few adjustments, and support the inward curve of your lumbar region.
You don’t necessarily need armrests on your office chair, but if yours comes with them, then be sure that they are adjustable. Ideally, armrests keep your arms at the same level as your desk, and when in the correct position, they help to keep your body in alignment with your desk. If you are not able to adjust your armrests then be sure that it’s possible to remove them should they not be the appropriate height.
Any good office chair will support your weight while you sit upright or lean back. It’s best to find a chair that has a four-pronged base with casters, as these are more stable than the normal four-pronged model.
When it comes to finding the right features for your office chair, think of it like a handy office assistant. What both an office chair and assistant will offer you are great support throughout the day, without even really knowing that they’re there. A great office chair makes it easier to do your job throughout the day, and doesn’t cause unwanted stress or fatigue. So many Americans spend a great deal of time sitting at a desk, and any comfortable, ergonomic chair will work with your body to spare you the unwanted back aches and stress. Before you buy an office chair, it’s best to actually sit in many kinds of chairs to discover what is most comfortable for you. Invest in your office chair as if it were a mattress, as you’ll spend more time sitting in it than sleeping.
Simply put: purchasing an office chair shouldn’t be considered insignificant, but should be looked at as an investment. Americans spend so much time sitting in an office chair that it just makes sense to take the time to find something that truly supports your body and increases your productivity. There’s nothing that makes going to work more dreadful than knowing that you’ll be uncomfortable, fatigued, and in pain while sitting at your desk. You want a chair that helps you to do your job the right way, and it takes a little time and research to find the right chair for you.
Before you begin your search, it’s important to do the proper research that will lead you to the chair that is best designed for your unique body. Go online and read which office chairs are the most highly rated, such as the ones mentioned above. Ask yourself important questions such as how much you’re willing to spend, how you’ll be using your chair, and what style you’d like it to be. Once you get specific with yourself, it will better narrow down your search for the right office chair for your unique body, and your unique life.