Ergonomic Office Chairs

The term ergonomic office chair is widely used throughout the office chair industry and yet if you asked a group of office chair manufacturers and suppliers to define what is meant by ergonomics when applied to office seating chances are you would get many differing answers and opinions.

The truth is that an ergonomic office chair is really just a concept, a convenient term that has found favour with the office seating market. Dictionary definitions of ergonomics vary widely stressing words like productivity, fatigue, discomfort, efficiency, safety etc.

So, here is a definition of ergonomics in relation to an office chair

“An ergonomic office chair is an office seat that has been carefully designed for the user to be able to work productively, efficiently and safely as well as minimizing any feeling of fatigue or discomfort.”

Let me caution by saying just because a chair is described as ergonomic in no way means it satisfies the above definition. There are some truly abysmal examples of office seating which are dishonestly called ergonomic.

So now we have some idea of what an ergonomic office chair needs to achieve to be worthy of such a description lets consider the features and functions a chair needs to meet our criteria.

Read on to discover the 5 essential features required in an ergonomic office chair.

Seat Depth Adjustment

This feature is missing from the majority of Office Chairs, nonetheless I believe it to be essential. People come in all heights and sizes and so the ability to set up the seat depth to suit your leg length is an important one.

When correctly set up the seat depth of your Ergonomic Office Chair should be adjusted so you are able to place your clenched fist between the edge of the chair’s seat pad and the back of your knee.

Height Adjustable Back

Back height adjustment is important and good ergonomic office seating will enable you to adjust it to give good lower back support. Avoid chairs with exaggerated lumbar foam infill supports, a slightly curved foam back shell is all you need provided you adjust it to suit your back. Some Office Chairs come with adjustable ergonomic lumbar supports which adjust as well as or intead of the back, the majority of these are fine when correctly adjusted.

Arm Height Adjustment

For the most part it is a good thing to have arms on your office chair, individual users may prefer to not have arms on their chair though, particularly those who like to get their chair close up to their desk. Nonetheless, properly used, height adjustable chair arms are definitely beneficial particularly for minimizing or relieving Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).

You should set up the chair arm height to make sure that your lower arms are level with your desktop. Keyboard and mouse use should be comfortable and you should not be stretching or straining to reach them.

Pneumatic Seat Height Adjustment

Gas lift height adjustment is almost universal in modern office seating. When correctly adjusted your feet should be firmly on the floor with your upper legs angled slightly downwards, if you are tall you’re best advised to avoid cheap imported chairs as they are unlikely to suit you because of poor height range adjustment. Conversely, if you’re not very tall you may need to buy a footrest to help you achieve the correct seating position with some models.

If you are a large framed person make sure that the gas lift cylinder rating is suitable, normally they are rated around 18 – 20 stones. Up rated gas lifts are generally available for better quality Office Seats.

Adjustable Tilt Tension

Cheaper Office Chairs come with a fixed tension setting for the seat base and this is often combined with a permanent contact back pad. This means that the seat and back move in ratio with each other. This is fine if you are the correct weight for the chair’s mechanism.

For anyone falling outside the fixed mechanism weight design getting comfortable in this type of chair is just not practical

If you are light framed moving forward in one of these chairs feels as though it is attempting to catapult you out of your chair. They are also very difficult to lean back in as your body weight is insufficient to move the back easily. On the other hand, if you are large or heavy framed you may well find the opposite problem as your chair has you bouncing around all over the place.

So, make sure that the tension on your Office Chair can be adjusted to suit your own weight. Also, try and avoid permanent contact back chairs instead select a chair that has independent seat and back tension adjustment. A number of top quality chairs come with automatic tension control where the mechanism automatically compensates for the user’s weight taking away the need for separate tilt tension adjustment.

If you apply the above criteria when selecting a new Ergonomic Office Chair you will have an excellent chance of choosing a chair which will give you many years of good service.

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