There are many brands of ergonomic chairs on the market today, including Allseating, BOSS, ErgoFast, Eurotech, and many others. With so many different choices of ergonomic chairs and stools, many of which you can probably find in an office near you, it’s clear that ergonomics have become a popular trend in office furniture design. But how many people actually know what makes a chair, or any other piece of office furniture, “ergonomic”? Keep reading if you’re interested in learning more about this revolution in seating and furniture design, and making the most of your health and workplace experience.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, ergonomics, which is also known as human engineering or biotechnology, is a type of applied science that is centered on the design and arrangement of “things people use” so that those people and things “interact most efficiently and safely.” The term may also be used to describe the characteristics and design of an object as a consequence of the use of ergonomic science. This may all sound complicated, but at the end of the day, ergonomic furniture is designed to keep people comfortable and safe as they work, and most importantly, to help workers avoid stress-related injuries on the job. The following factors affect the ergonomic design of an office chair, which is the most important piece of furniture for a comfortable workplace.
A regular office chair can easily leave a person with pain in the back, neck, and shoulders after extended use. It really doesn’t take long to feel these effects if you are sitting in a poorly designed office chair day in and day out. With one of the available ergonomically designed products, such as the popular ergoCentric chairs, this is no longer a problem. An ergonomic chair is designed to provide optimal back support, including lumbar support in addition to a classic backrest with just the right amount of padding, to keep the spine in a healthy straight position. This ultimately limits stress, absorbs shocks, and reduces the likelihood of injury.
The height of a chair may seem inconsequential, but it can make a big difference when it’s wrong. If the height of your chair and/or armrests isn’t right, you will quickly become uncomfortable on the job. Ergonomically designed chairs have adjustable armrests and seats, and sometimes even adjustable backrests, so you can get the perfect match for your height and body type.
The overall size of a chair matters in ergonomics as well. The design of an office chair should not only consider the height of various parts, but also the width of the backrest, and the depth and width of the seat. The backrest should be at least 12 inches wide and the seat should be at least 18 inches wide, if not more, to provide adequate support for the worker.
At the end of the day, all these ergonomic factors can help contribute to a happier and healthier workforce, which makes an organization much more productive in the long run.
Being a larger sized person doesn’t always make things easy. In fact, I think most can agree it’s more of a hindrance than anything else. Whether you are larger because you are 7 ft. tall, or maybe you are just a little overweight, the question that plagues most of us always seems to rear it’s ugly head; am I going to fit in that chair? I’m a big guy (6’2″ 350lbs), and personally I can relate to this in so many ways. When you go over to a friend’s house and you decide to just stand for fear of breaking their furniture, or even worse when you go over to your grandma’s house and all she has is wicker furniture. All of these situations are embarrassing to say the least, but what about your workplace? When you have to sit in a chair for 8+ hours a day, finding the right chair is extremely important.
Speaking from experience, there is a lot to consider when purchasing a new chair when you are big and tall. We spend all the time in the world picking out a new car, or a new cell phone, but what about that thing you are sitting on day in and day out? I’m going to break down some of the more important things to look for when purchasing a chair.
First and foremost, you need to be comfortable.
Choosing your fabric and foam are essential. If you are not a leather or vinyl person, don’t get leather or vinyl. The last thing you want to do is buy something you’re not going to be comfortable with. When you’re spending $500+ on something, it’s not the best time to be adventurous. The same goes for the other options, don’t get a mesh or fabric chair if you know you are going to want something in leather or vinyl. The benefit to leather or vinyl is it has a classy look as well as being a little easier to clean. The benefit to mesh or fabric is they ‘breathe’ a little better, but may not be as easy to clean as a vinyl or leather.
You want to be confident when sitting in it.
This means you need to take a look at the weight rating. Just as I steer away from wicker furniture or cheap plastic lawn chairs, if you are bigger you should also stay away from chairs with a low weight rating. On Sitbetter we do our best to keep pertinent information on each product page. If you are 300 lb.s, don’t buy a chair that is rated for 200 lbs., you will wind up wearing the chair out far before you should. The last thing you want is to have to buy a new chair every 6 months or worse, you could end up breaking it and falling and hurting yourself, or at least your pride. Not that I have any experience with that .
Another really important feature when ordering a chair is the cylinder.
If you are 7 ft tall, you probably shouldn’t purchase a chair with a low cylinder. You want your feet firmly on the ground, but you don’t want to sit in the chair like it is a bean bag all day. This can be tricky when you are taller, because a lot of desks sit at a standard height, and sometimes getting your legs at the proper angle just isn’t possible with the current desk situation you have. Be sure to measure and measure again. Measure your desk from the floor to the underside of the desk. Also measure your current chair and where it sits from the floor to the top of the seat. The measurements for the seat range are posted on most, if not all of our chairs. If you can’t change your desk, do your best to cut the difference by ordering the proper cylinder.
For the most part, many of us sit in our chairs for 8+ hours a day. That is a lot of wear and tear, especially when you are bigger. Sure, you can buy a cheaper chair, that isn’t rated for your height or weight and you may save some money. But in the long-run, if you’re having to spend money on a new chair every 6 months, you will be spending a LOT more. The best thing to do is research, make a smart spending decision, and buy a chair that is going to last a couple of years, but more importantly, a chair that you will be happy with.
It’s easy to assume a chair expert understands furniture much better than they understand the spine, but an expert on office chairs with ergonomic features can actually te
ach you a lot about your back and the support you need to keep it in good shape. If you work in an office, you inevitably spend a lot of time sitting down, and that can put a great deal of strain on your back and, subsequently, on the rest of your entire body. This is why experts have spent years developing furniture that encourage better posture and provide specific support for the lower back.
So, if you want to learn more about your ergonomic needs, ask an expert to explain the following five facts further.
Adjustable Height is Best
An adjustable seating option is always the best way to go, because everyone has different requirements when it comes to the height of where they sit. Once the seat is adjusted, your feet should sit flatly on the floor. Also, your back should be straight, and your shoulders should be level when your arms are on the armrest. Make sure the chair you choose comes with a pneumatic adjuster that allows you to shift the height; typically a height adjustment range of 16 to 21 inches from the floor to the top of the seat is suitable for most users. If you are shorter or taller than average, you may need to look for an option that is designed specifically for your needs, however this height range should work for most people.
Determine Seat Depth and Width
Where you sit in the chair also makes a big difference in your comfort and overall spinal health, not to mention workplace productivity and job satisfaction. When sitting down, you should feel completely supported by the seat. Most people will be comfortable with a width between 17 and 20 inches, but if you have an unusual body shape, make sure to consult with an expert before making a purchase. At the end of the day, you are not going to be comfortable unless you are able to sit with your back against the rest and with a few inches between the back of your knees and the edge of the chair. A seat that allows you to adjust the angle forward is also a must for intensive task purposes.
Consider the Backrest
It’s also imperative to consider the measurements and quality of the backrest when purchasing office chairs. In order to be ergonomically correct, the backrest should measure between 13 and 19 inches high with enough support to conform to your spine’s natural curvature. If you have lower back issues, it is especially important that you consult with a chair expert about this issue. The backrest should be particularly supportive of your lumbar region. Also, it should be height adjustable and/or have an air lumbar support so that you can properly fit the chair to the shape of your back and determine the amount of support needed in your lumbar region.
The seat and backrest material of your office chair should be comfortable. For most, standard seat foam will be comfortable enough for all day sitting. For those that need firmer or softer support, look for chairs that offer memory foam or triple density foam. Mesh seating is advisable for those that want to have a more breathable sitting experience, which can be advantageous in warmer climates. Having a comfortable seat can make all the difference on a long workday.
Last, but Not Least, Look Into Lumbar Support
Any good chair expert will probably tell you that lumbar support is the most important aspect of any ergonomic office chair. If you don’t have proper lumbar support, you will inevitably start slouching, and over time, this can put a great deal of strain on the lower spine, eventually flattening its natural curvature. So, make sure your chair is adjustable, and consult an expert about your unique ergonomic needs.
If you have any doubts about an office chair prior to purchasing, especially when it involves whether it will be a good fit for you and your needs, it is best to consult with an expert prior to purchasing. They can help you make an informed decision and will make you feel more comfortable with the purchase, especially if it is for a more expensive ergonomic office chair. For help finding the perfect chair for you, fill out SitBetter’s chair expert form by clicking here and a chair expert will recommend you some options within 1-2 business day.
When one pictures an office chair in their head there is a universal perception as to what a typical office chair looks like. This image usually includes a set of five wheels, a black nylon five-star base, a cylinder which allows the chair to be adj
usted up and down, a seat, and a backrest. While this is the case for over 90% of chair models out there, there are the unique 10% that break away from the mold. The difference is most commonly found in the shape of the backrest. While these backrests may appear to be odd and out of the ordinary, sometimes when it comes to office chairs the weirder it looks the better it actually is for your back.
Independent Lower Back Support
One popular type of backrest that can be found on specialty ergonomic chairs is a backrest that is separated into two parts, one part for the upper back and one part for the lower back. The advantage to this type of back support is the independent lower back support provides extra and exacting lumbar support, especially favorable for those that suffer from lower back pain. This chair is ideal for lower back pain sufferers as they need additional support in their lumbar region that can often not be achieved with a standard back rest. The most popular office chair model that has this type of support is the Ergohuman by Eurotech.
Chairs that are designed for scapular independence allow for freedom of motion for individuals around their shoulder blade area when seated. The benefit of having a backrest that tapers away from the shoulder blade area is that occupants have the advantage of being able to sit back and avoid interference that is often caused by full back rests. This is helpful for occupations that call for having to reach for the phone, different parts of the desk, for supplies, files, cabinets, etc. when seated. The overall idea of this is to promote healthier sitting postures which are often not achieved with full chair backs. This type of backrest also promotes a more active work environment as users are now able to stretch and bend without having to worry about their chair getting in their way. This type of backrest can be seen on the Allseating Therapod and Office Master Discovery Back Chairs.
Winged backrests are another unique type of backrest that are found on specialized ergonomic chairs that feature a shape that is designed to focus on providing support for the mid to lower back. With two pronounced side contours, the wing shape envelopes the users middle and lower back which works to provide back pain relief. A popular model that features this backrest is the Ergocentric Mycentric.
Perhaps the most odd -ooking of all the backrests available are those that focus on all parts of the spine. This type of backrest provides the most overall back support for those that suffer from upper and lower back pain. This support is unique in that it supports all different parts of the spine through either a strap support system or individual “ribs”. The strap support system is built into the backrest, either covered or uncovered, and allows the user to pull the straps to tighten them wherever they need more support along different parts of their spine. On other chairs that have “ribs” these are located along the middle of the backrest and can be pushed in or pulled out depending on how much pressure is needed along different points of the spine. Both types of support are the best at achieving customized support for the whole back. Chairs that incorporate this distinctive advantage are the RFM Preferred Verte and Allseating CPOD.
To view SitBetter’s extensive line of ergonomic office chairs please click here.
When a person enters your place of business, one thing they likely notice is how you are sitting. If you are slumped over, you may give the impression of being tired or unapproachable. This can be offsetting to customers and fellow co-workers, and
even worse, it can put a strain on your back that can cause you significant amounts of pain over the long-haul. Now, people are turning to modern chairs for the office to help sit in a more welcoming way while also delivering some much-needed relief to their spine and hips.
Here are a few examples of odd-looking seating solutions that work to help people feel better when they sit.
For some businesses that have designated eating areas or those that serve food, bar stools provide a unique way to ease the strain during breakfast meetings or lunch hour. When a person is eating, they extend their arms and wrists in a way that can put pressure on the wrist and elbows. By adding adjustable bar stools, people are able to adjust their seating to be more ergonomically friendly and encourage them to sit better while they are eating. This also allows people to move more freely while they are eating, which is an important part of helping to reduce strain on the spine from sitting in the same posture for extended periods of time.
This can be one of the most interesting sights in a place of business, but kneeling-down seating options have some of the best effects when used for small periods of time. The simple and highly ergonomically friendly designed kneeling chair is perfect for people who want to change the way they sit. It works by opening up the thigh from the upper part of the body. This in turn helps the back hold onto its natural curvature reducing the temptation to slouch or hunch over. It also helps the person kneeling to sit more actively, which can boost the flow of energy.
Saddle type seating is similar to the kneeling solution. When you sit on this odd-looking saddle stool, your legs are encouraged to open just slightly and your thighs are naturally lowered. This helps your back by putting the spine in a curvature that will eliminate pain-causing pressure and allow you to maintain good posture. The height is adjustable, so it is easy to find the best fit for any body type. The saddle stool is perfect for people who move around frequently from room to room, such as in a doctor or dentist office.
While high-backed leather chairs are not uncommon in a corporate building, ones that are designed ergonomically can turn heads at their unique but sleek shape. For people who suffer from chronic back pain, having a chair that can support the various parts of the back and the natural lumbar curve in the spine can be hugely beneficial—so much so that some insurance companies have actually paid for these types of seating solutions as medically certified necessities. The Verte, for example, works by supporting 11 different spots along the spine with its unique back adjusters that allow individuals to get the specific support they need. The arms and height are also adjustable, making this a fully customizable solution for anyone with chronic pain.
If you are looking for a way to feel better at work, it may be a good idea to try one of these oddly shaped chairs. They not only work as a conversation starter, but they can also help promote better posture. Over time, they will deliver health benefits that will help reduce your pain and make you feel more energized.
For more information on ergonomic chairs and to view SitBetter’s extensive collection of ergonomic chairs, please click here!