The single most used piece of furniture in almost any business is an office chair with most of us clocking around 8 hours everyday sitting in one. If you will be spending the majority of your day sitting in an office chair, it is best to familiari
ze yourself with the functions and capabilities to ensure you are maximizing your chair’s usage. Knowing how to properly adjust your chair can also save you from unnecessary work related pains that can occur from sitting in a chair that is not properly adjusted to your body. It can also provide you with insight as to why your current office chair may not be the best fit for your needs, especially if you are experiencing any pain during the day while sitting in it. While some features of a chair may seem relatively self-explanatory, it is best to get fully acquainted to understand the benefits of having your chair properly adjusted and what features your current chair may be lacking that you may need.
Seat Height Adjustment – Perhaps the most basic adjustment of all, the seat height should be adjustable on almost every office chair. This adjustment can typically be found on the right hand side of the chair, located just to the right underneath the seat. To ensure your chair’s seat height is properly adjusted, make sure that your chair is lowered enough for you to place your feet flat and firmly against the floor. Your legs should form a 90° angle. You may need to adjust your chair’s seat height periodically if you wear heels while you are working as this will add height and cause your legs to not form that necessary 90° angle.
Tilt Tension – Tilt tension is a great feature most office chairs possess that allows the user to control the rate and ease with which the chair reclines for different weights and strengths of users. This adjustment always comes in the form of a knob that is located directly underneath the seat. By twisting the knob one direction it will allow the user to lean back in the chair much easier and without much pressure. By twisting the knob the opposite direction, the user will have to exert more pressure into reclining back in their chair.
Back Height Adjustment – Back height adjustment allows positioning of lumbar support(if your chair has built-in lumbar support) within a fixed range to alleviate back stress. If your chair comes with an “S” shaped back or has built-in lumbar support you will want to adjust your chair’s back to have the curved protruding portion align with the curve in your lower back. This allows you to feel the full advantages of having a back rest with lumbar support especially if you suffer from lower back pain. Back height adjustment is usually a knob located near the bottom of the back rest that can be loosened to move the back bar up or down, ad then tightened once the desired height is reached.
Tilt Lock – A tilt lock control locks out the tilt function when the chair is in the upright position. This feature is advantageous if you want the ability to recline in your chair for a few minutes but want to return it to lock in place in the upright position while tasking. Most office chairs that have tilt tension control will have tilt lock control as well. Tilt lock control is a lever on the chair that when pushed down allows you to recline in the chair, and when the lever is pulled up when your chair is in the upright position you are locked in place.
Adjustable Armrests – If an office chair comes with arms, most of the time they will be height adjustable armrests which is your standard up and down adjustment. More advanced arm adjustments include width adjustability, pivoting, and sliding forward and backward. Proper ergonomic thought deems your arms should not be resting when typing, as that slows the blood flow to an area that requires it because of the movement. However, having the ability to adjust arms up and down can help prevent this. Most armrests that are adjustable have a button on the side of the arms that allows you to either pull the arms up or push them down depending on your needs. While arms are not an essential feature to have on an office chair, they can come in handy when your arms need a break from continuous typing.
Having an office chair with basic adjustability is crucial as not every person can conform to a standard office chair. If your current office chair does not contain the above adjustments(excluding adjustable armrests) it may be time to start searching for a more ergonomically correct office chair. In the long run an adjustable chair can save you from back pain and other work related ailments that can occur from sitting for long periods of time in an awkward position. The aforementioned adjustments are the bare minimum that every office chair should contain, however, there are many more adjustments available for an even more ergonomic sitting experience.
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Most would think it is common sense when talking about the subject of how to sit in an office chair considering most of us sit in one for hours on end everyday. While office chairs certainly are easy to use with a little bit of knowledge, most of us are not familiar with how to properly adjust and sit in our chairs in order to avoid pain and injury. When even starting to consider purchasing an office chair it is important to pick out a chair that will allow you to adjust your body and posture to conform ergonomically to you. An ergonomic chair will come with adjustable seat height, back/lumbar adjustments, armrest adjustments, and a tilt lock. While most are not familiar with chair adjustments it is essential to learn about your chair and become properly educated on how to use it before using it just as you would for say a car or bike. However, an office chair will not take nearly as long to figure out as either of the aforementioned.
When sitting in an office chair the first area of the chair to focus on is the part you sit on all day, the seat. With your back against the backrest, the seat should support most of the length of your thighs without applying pressure to the back of your knees. Waterfall seats (which most chairs now come with) are ideal for allowing you to sit comfortably and properly. Your seat height should be set so that your thighs are approximately parallel to the ground when your heels are firmly planted on the ground. If it is not possible to have your feet flat on the ground because your work station is too high and not adjustable, a footrest is a good addition to keep your feet flat and body in proper posture. Movement throughout the day is encouraged, so do not feel as if you always need your feet to be planted on the ground. There is generally a lever on the right side if not the left that when pulled up allows you to move either up if your taller or down if you are of shorter stature. A tip for adjustment is to start with your seat at its highest and lower it gradually until it is at a comfortable height. as you cannot usually raise your seat while you are sitting in it.
The backrest of a chair is an important feature, especially if you suffer from mild to severe back pain. A chair that comes with adjustable lumbar support is recommended for those that suffer from back pain. If your backrest does come with built-in lumbar support, its height should be such that you feel firm support over the lumbar curve of your lower back. Chairs that are S shaped also provide natural back support that will fit to the natural curvature of your spine. If your chair lacks lumbar support, adding a lumbar cushion or lumbar pillow can help aid your back. Lumbar support products should only be added if your seat has sufficient depth in order to avoid pushing yourself up to far that your upper legs are not properly supported. While sitting in your chair, it is usually easier to lower the backrest than raise it. So begin with the back rest as high as it goes, then sit in your chair and gradually lower the backrest until it fits comfortably.
Another feature that is crucial for a good chair to have is adjustable armrests. Most chairs that have adjustable armrests can easily be lowered or raised by pushing a button in and manually pulling the armrests up or pushing them down. Armrests have to be at the right height for your body, if they are too high it will force you to position your arms awkwardly. If armrests are too long you might find yourself to be slouching or sitting in an awkward position which might start to cause a back ache. While typing, your arms should be able to swing freely. Armrests should be positioned about half an inch below your elbows, with your elbows hanging comfortably at your side. If your arms are resting on the armrest while you are typing, you will be inhibiting the normal arm movement which will cause extra strain on your fingers and their supporting structures.
The backrest angle should be set so that you feel the backrest while you are in your preferred sitting position. You should not have to lean back to feel it, nor should it force you farther forward when you are sitting. Your back rest angle should allow, however, to move forward and backward with added pressure while still providing you with lumbar/back support. Usually, underneath your chair there is a knob that allows you to adjust the backrest to the amount of pressure you want. After finding that perfect spot make sure to lock your backrest angle to ensure it stays in place. Usually by pulling the lever up you can unlock the back angle and pushing down locks it into place.
It is important to remember that not all chairs are built the same, meaning that some levers and knobs may be in different places or may be used differently depending on the chair. Also, some chairs may not come with all the features mentioned above and may only possess one or two. What is the key takeaway is take some time to get to know your chair and how to use it when purchasing a chair or even if you already have an office chair you like. In the long run, it can save you from hours, days, or years of suffering from common work related injuries that occur from not sitting properly. If you are not happy with your current chair and its features, look into a chair that has all the adjustments mentioned in order to ensure that it is ergonomically correct.