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Ergonomic Office Chairs: Key Things to Consider

Whether you are working from home or making your return to the traditional office, an ergonomic office chair is crucial for staying comfortable throughout the day. With so many choices to choose from, how do you pick the chair that is right for you? Our team of experts have put together a guide of the key things to consider when buying an office chair. By using these tips, you can make an informed decision about the chair that you are buying and feel more comfortable with your purchase.



Height Adjustability

Being able to change the seat height of your office desk chair is essential to keeping you comfortable during long days. Ideally, your seat should be adjusted so that your thighs are roughly level with your hips (or slightly lower than them). By setting your chair to the proper height, you can eliminate neck and back strain throughout the day.

If your chair is adjusted too high for your body, you may keep scooting forward to keep your feet on the ground, which could result in poor posture. If your chair is set too low, your knees will be higher than your hips, potentially creating stress on your feet and lower back. This can lead to long-term joint and back issues.

An adjustable-height chair lets you pick the correct level for long-term comfort. Choosing a chair with height adjustment means that you can adjust your chair over time, as needed. Herman Miller office chairs, Steelcase office chairs, Haworth office chairs and other top brands typically have height-adjustment features standard on their task chairs, but double-checking is always worth it in the long-run.

Tilt Control

The angle of your seat is another important factor to consider when choosing your chair. Because any chair you buy probably won’t be perfectly suited to your needs right out of the box, the option to adjust the tilt of the back of your chair is a huge benefit. Many office chairs offer adjustable tilt controls, which allows you to adjust the resistance that the chair offers when you lean back into it. If you are looking to stay engaged with your work, a firmer tensioning, which will keep you upright and focused is desirable.




Seat Dimensions

Whether you’re small, large, or right in the middle, there is an office chair for just about everyone. For obvious reasons, you will need an office chair that is large enough for your body. Because there may not be a ‘perfect fit’ for everyone, many chair manufacturers include other options, like fully-adjustable arms that can move inward if your chair is slightly too big. We will discuss arm adjustments later in this article, but they also play a factor here. To find your perfect fit, we recommend checking the length and width of the seat for any chair you’re considering. Most major chair manufacturers also offer ‘big and tall’ chair lines, which often have a higher weight capacity and larger seats. Once you know the dimensions of the desk chair in question, see how those numbers compare to colleagues’ chairs or other seats you find comfortable.




Armrests

Having adequate arm support can mean the difference between being uncomfortable an hour into your day and staying comfortable all day long. Not only does keeping your arms supported in the correct place keep your elbows comfortable, but it can lead to reduced shoulder and neck strain over time. Thankfully, most chair manufacturers offer multiple options of arm adjustment to help you find the right solution.


Fixed Arms:

Stationary arms that are locked in place, meaning that there is no adjusting them.

Height Adjustable Arms:

The most popular option. Height-adjustable arms are typically either mounted to the back or side of the chair and have an adjustable level, button, or gear that moves the armrest height higher and lower.

Fully Adjustable (4-way) Arms:

If you are looking for armrests that can accommodate multiple people’s needs or have a chair that is slightly too large for your body, this is the option for you. In addition to moving up and down, fully adjustable arms can move forward, backward, and side-to-side.



Materials and Padding

Office chairs come in many different finish and material options. While most people associate the material selection and color as purely aesthetic, choosing the right material can mean staying comfortable for longer periods.


Upholstered Fabric:

Your typical upholstery that is standard on most office chairs. Provided durability and a soft surface for you to sit on.

Leather:

Leather and leatherette options provide a classic, mid-century aesthetic to even the most modern office chairs. Leather seat pans and seat backs offer little ventilation but is one of the softest and most durable options.

Perforated Plastic:

Chairs such as the Herman Miller Sayl Chair and Knoll Generation Chairs come with a perforated plastic back. This allows for increased flexibility and ventilation to keep you supported in the right places throughout the day.

Ventilated Mesh:

Mesh seat pans and seat backs provide support and ventilation for the entire day. Firmer than upholstered fabric and leather, mesh seats and backs provide maximum support for your body. Herman Miller Aeron Chairs are know for their signature Pellicle Weave Mesh.



Mobility

Office chairs come with many mobility options. From a sled-based desk chair to a fully-mobile chair with a castered chair, evaluating your specific needs is necessary when choosing the type of chair you want to purchase. If you will be mainly stationary and want to eliminate wear on your carpet or floor, a post-leg or sled base chair may do the trick. If you are an active worker, and turn and move throughout the day, a castered, mobile base is a better option for you.




Lumbar Support

If you have an achy back, lumbar support is crucial in an office chair. Even if you do not currently experience back pain, lumbar support on your office chair can help prevent it in the future. There are many different types of lumbar support that are offered, so how do you choose what’s right for you?


No Lumbar Support:

Provides minimal support for your lower back, and you rely on your seat back to keep you comfortable.

Standard Lumbar Support:

Provides a fixed lumbar support beam in the lower section of the seat back.

Adjustable Lumbar Support:

A slider or lever on the back of your seat can be adjusted to the height level that you prefer.

Active Lumbar Support:

Many top brands off their own version of active lumbar support, which is a hands-off approach to adjusting your lumbar support. Herman Miller offers PostureFit support, Steelcase has their LiveBack Seatback, both of which move with your body to keep you supported, regardless of what position you are sitting in.


Adjusting your office chair is crucial: Watch the video below to learn how to set up your office for maximum ergonomic comfort


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