Finding an office chair that properly fits an individual in every aspect can be a tough task considering most chairs are designed to fit what many manufacturers consider to be the norm, individuals that are 5’5″-5’10″ and weigh less than 250 po
s. Unfortunately that leaves many sitting in a chair that does not fit them correctly or a chair that can not support their weight, especially when a business standardizes one chair model for their entire office. Even worse, a chair that is not properly fitted to the individual can lead to work related health issues such as back pain, lumbar pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and other aches and nuisances. If you do not have an ergonomist on hand, which most companies do not, the perfect fit chair can be achieved with a little research. When researching potential chairs it is essential to take a look at all of the features and adjustments the chair comes with.
Users should be able to sit with their feet comfortably on the floor or on a footrest without pressure on the underside of the thighs. The thigh-to-torso angle should not be less than 90°.
Users should be able to sit in the chair without undue pressure against the back of the knees, their back properly supported by the backrest and with adequate thigh and leg support.
Seat Pan Angle
This should allow users to support their feet on the floor or footrest. This should not cause the user’s torso-to-thigh angle to be less than 90°. Forward seat pan angles should not cause users to shift excessive weight to their feet or experience the sensation of sliding out of the chair.
The seat should be wider than the hip breadth of the user with allowance for movement and clothing. The seat width should not limit the ability to use the armrests comfortably.
All backrests should provide adequate lumbar support and backside clearance. For tasks requiring upper body mobility, the backrest should not interfere with the user’s movement; a mid or low back chair is would be recommend. For users who prefer reclining postures or greater upper back support, the back height should be tall enough to provide support for the shoulder blades.
The width of the backrest should provide adequate support for the curvature of the user’s back without causing localized pressure points.
The height and shape of the lumbar support should coincide with the lumbar curve of the user’s back. The support should be firm, but not cause localized pressure points. An adjustable backrest often helps the user achieve the correct positioning.
This should allow users to sit in a variety of postures while supporting their forearms and/or elbows in a manner that avoids lifting the shoulders, this often results from armrests that are positioned too high, or leaning to the side to reach the armrest, this results from armrests that are positioned too low. The armrest height should allow accessibility to, and performance of, tasks.
The length of the armrest should allow users to sit close enough to the work surface to perform their tasks while maintaining contact with the backrest.
Inside Distance Between Armrests
Armrests should allow users to sit in a variety of postures while supporting their forearms in a manner that avoids lifting the shoulders and/or excessive outward positioning of the elbows. Armrests should allow accessibility to, and performance of tasks. The inside distance between the armrests should allow the user to enter and exit the chair easily. The hips should comfortably fit between the armrests or supports.
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Article credit: Office Master.
So you are on a quest to find the ultimate ergonomic office chair, one that is going to keep you sitting comfortably throughout the day while keeping those unnecessary aches and pains away. Does such a chair even exist? Your first thought might be to get in your car and drive to the nearest Staples to find your new ergonomic chair, but then you remember that they only carry cheap office chairs that are not designed for all day sitting. Your next thought then may be to visit an online office chair retailer, but you are not sure where to even begin looking with the wide selection of chairs to choose from. If you are looking for the one universal ergonomic office chair that works for everyone, think again, because such a chair does not exist. To find the ultimate ergonomic office chair for yourself, you need to first figure out what is going to work best for your body and your needs rather than purchasing a chair just because everyone else has it or you have heard it is popular.
The first step towards finding your ultimate ergonomic office chair is to figure out the dimensions needed to accommodate your body size. First, determine the seat depth(length of the seat) that will be required for your new chair. This is a crucial step because a chair that is too long will put pressure on the back of your knees and a chair that is too short may not fully support your legs. A good way to determine your ideal seat depth is to turn towards your current office chair; if your current seat depth already works for you then make sure your new chair will have the same seat measurements. If it is too long, look for a chair with a smaller seat depth and vice versa if your chair’s seat is too short. If you prefer a softer sit while working look for a chair that offers seat foam upgrades such as a gel seat or triple density foam otherwise some chairs come standard with an extra thick seat.
Next you will need to figure out the seat height range necessary for you to be able to keep your feet flat on the floor while working(or on a foot rest) and work with your height. You will also need to take into consideration the height of your desk to ensure your chair will fit underneath your desk if needed, especially if you would like a chair with armrests. Most standard desks are 29″ measured from the floor to the top of the desk, however some have higher workstations or adjustable desks that can be lowered and raised if needed. If you are a shorter individual a standard cylinder that comes with most office chairs may be too tall for you causing your legs to be bent at an awkward angle. The same can be said for taller individuals who need a longer cylinder and higher seat height adjustment range. Certain specialty ergonomic office chairs offer different cylinder size options to accommodate individuals of any height from children 4′ tall to adults that are 6’8″.
Having the right back height for your office chair can be of particular importance for those who suffer from back pain and even for those who want to avoid back pain. A good way to determine the back height that will be needed for your chair is to look at your current office chair. If you currently suffer from upper back you will want to look for a chair that’s back will come up high enough to support your shoulder blades. Have a friend measure your back in its entirety from the top of the seat on your current office chair up to your shoulder blades to calculate how tall you will need your back rest to be. If you experience neck pain look for a chair that comes with an adjustable headrest. Again you will need to measure your back to ensure you do not pick a chair that has a back that is too high or too low, otherwise your headrest may end up turning out to be detrimental rather than helpful. Many people suffer from lower back pain from having a chair that does not have proper lumbar support which is why it is crucial to find a chair that offers built-in lumbar support, adjustable lumbar support, or air lumbar support to prevent lower back pain.
The last factor to consider is how adjustable you will need your ultimate ergonomic chair to be. If you work for more 8 or more hours a day, you will likely need a highly adjustable chair that allows you to recline throughout the day with tilt lock and tilt tension control(allows the user to choose the amount of tension needed to recline back in their chair and to lock their chair in the upright position when typing then unlock when recline is desired). If you are a taller or shorter individual, it may be beneficial to have a seat slider adjustment that allows you to determine make your chair’s seat depth either longer or shorter. If most of your day is spent hunched over typing it would be beneficial to have a chair with back and seat angle adjustment to allow you to lean your back rest and seat forward while doing extensive typing. A chair with an adjustable back rest can benefit just about anyone if the chair comes with built-in back support, then the individual using the chair can adjust the back to reach their lumbar region rather than having a chair that pre-determines it for you and risking having it not fit your back properly. The level of adjustability need will vary amongst individuals and will require some thinking to decide which adjustments are absolutely necessary and which you may be able to live without.
A new ergonomic chair does not come at a cheap price, which is why you need to do your research and make sure that you know exactly what you need to keep you sitting comfortably. Make sure to look at the chair’s warranty, if the chair is warranted for only a few years this is a good indication of how long the chair will last you. Contrarily, if a chair has a ten year or lifetime guarantee this is a good indication that the chair is built to last and withstand tough working conditions. You may need to put a little extra money than you hoped to get your ultimate ergonomic chair but in the long run it will save you from visits to the chiropractor, money spent on having to replace a bad chair, and aches and pains caused by sitting in a poorly designed chairs.
So, you’ve finally decided to get with the 21st century and set up an ergonomic office! You might only have a few dozen questions or so on how to do it, why go to all that expense and where to go, etc, etc, etc!
Some great questions, because setting up an ergonomic office can not only be confusing, but expensive, so do it right the first time, not guessing about how to go about it and spending far too much on the wrong products!
I googled ergonomics, and I came across a particular ‘ergonomic’ e-tailer who was passing a chair like this one off as an ergonomic chair! Now, don’t get me wrong, this might be a perfectly great chair, but an ergonomic office chair?…. Not a chance!
So then you start looking around, and discounting the chairs which likely are not ergonomic office chairs, you start to see the price tags and the coughing, hacking and spasming starts!
After you wake up, drag yourself up onto your chair and sip some water…. let me explain to you just why it makes economic sense to set your employees up with as good of ergonomic office chairs and accessories as you can….
A recent study shows that the average employee, when outfitted properly with a sensible ergonomic office, chair, accessories and everything, is going to be 10-15% more productive.
Imagine that, figure if that employee is paid 40K a year, and gets even 5 % more productive…… (does math in head….. grrrr, not coming….. )…. carry the two…. ohhh forget it (grabs calculator)…. That’s 2000 more a year in productivity!
So figure, if a chair costs $800, keyboard tray, monitor arm, footrest and light another $600 or so…. (grabs calculator again…)… that setup pays for itself in 8 months! Or 4 months if you go with the 10 percent!
Quite simply, putting together an ergonomic office makes great business sense!
So how to do it? Well, you don’t have to take my word on it, you can look at Cornell University’s ergonomic website and see what they recommend. In short, however, a good chair, monitor arm, keyboard tray, footrest and task light. I’ll recommend the Freedom Chair as a great high-quality ergonomic office chair, and Humanscale’s keyboard tray, monitor arm and footrests are very good and quality pieces as well.
So, who to buy from?
Find someone who knows what the heck they’re talking about!
If their idea of an ergonomic office chair is like the one about…. ummm not likely a great place to shop!
Of course I recommend SitBetter.com, but heck, I’m biased!