Having an ergonomic office chair has become a necessary piece of office furniture for any business where employees are required to sit consecutively for multiple hours at a time. While purchasing an ergonomic chair is certainly the first step towards achieving a comfortable work environment, another essential step to take after purchasing is to fully understand how each adjustment works on your new ergonomic chair. No matter how adjustable a chair is, it will not benefit the user unless it is properly adjusted to meet their needs and specifications. If you have recently purchased an ergonomic office chair with advanced adjustments that go above and beyond the typical seat height adjustment most chairs come with standard, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with your new chair in order to utilize its full capabilities and comfort potential. By educating yourself on the features of your office chair, you will be able to properly adjust your chair to fit your body and you may even find yourself pleasantly surprised with additional features you were not even aware of when purchasing. We have outlined a few advanced adjustments found in highly ergonomic office chairs that your chair right now may have or may need, and how to properly use this adjustments.
Seat Slider – A seat slider is typically an add-on or an upgrade for most chairs, however it does come standard on some ergonomic office chairs. A chair that has a seat slider adjustment is advantageous to shorter or taller individuals as it allows for you to increase or decrease the depth of the seat. This is also a great feature to have if multiple people use the same office chair to accommodate the different heights of the users. A seat slider can be extended typically by pulling up on a lever located directly under the seat while simultaneously pulling the seat out to make the depth longer. If you would like a smaller seat depth you would pull up on the lever again and simultaneously push the seat in to make the depth shorter. A seat slider is always beneficial to have on any chair as it allows for you to have the correct seat depth for your body, without having a seat that is too long and hits the back of your knees or too short that your thighs do not receive enough support.
Air Lumbar Support – Air lumbar support is a pump built into the lower part of the chair’s backrest that allows the user to inflate or deflate the level of support needed in the lumbar region. Because of its uniqueness, most office chairs do not come with air lumbar support and can only be found on more advanced ergonomic chairs, typically as an upgradable option. Air lumbar support is ideal for those who suffer from lower back pain and want to have the ability to determine the level of support they will receive in the lumbar region. Typically a hand pump can be found on the side of a chair’s backrest and with this pump you can choose your level of support. Deflating is also a simple task, by simply pressing a button on the pump it will automatically return the chair’s back to its original state.
Adjustable Headrest – Having a chair with an adjustable headrest allows the user to position the headrest in a position that is comfortable for both their neck and head. Depending on the chair, there are two ways to adjust a headrest. The first and easiest way, if your chair allows for it, is to manually adjust the headrest by simply moving it up and down or in and out until you reach your desired level of comfort. On other chairs with a less advanced adjustable headrest, you will have to unscrew a knob on the side of the headrest at which point you can then pull the headrest up or push it down until you find the right height. At this point, you could then would tighten the knob to keep the headrest in place. Having a chair with an adjustable headrest is helpful for those who suffer from upper back and neck pain by providing that extra support needed.
Back Angle Adjustment – A chair with back angle adjustment allows the user to position the angle of the backrest and lock it in place. To increase the angle of the back, lift the paddle up while putting your weight on the back of the chair until the desired angle is reached. Release the paddle to lock. To decrease the angle of the back, lift the paddle up while removing your weight from the back until you reach the desired angle. Release the paddle to lock into place. Back angle adjustment is best applied in environments where heavy tasking is required and typing with the back and a forward angle and seat with a downward angle is most comfortable. It can also be useful when you want to take a break from work and lean back in your chair.
Seat Angle Adjustment – Seat angle adjustment allows the user to determine the degree at which they would like to have their seat tilted at. To tilt the seat forward, first recline slightly in the chair and then rotate the handle clockwise until desired angle is reached. To return to the neutral position, rotate the handle counter-clockwise. Other chairs simply have a lever next to the seat which needs to be pulled up apply pressure to the front of the seat for a downward sloping angle or the back of the seat for an upward sloping angle. As aforementioned, a seat angle adjustment is most applicable in heavy tasking environments where long periods of typing may be involved.
While these adjustments are considered to be advanced they can be very valuable to have, especially for individuals that suffer from back and neck pain or as a preventative measure to avoid experiencing back pain. Ergonomic office chairs with advanced adjustments are normally more expensive in price, however they offer supreme levels of adjustability allowing the chair to be tailored to the individual while helping you sit healthy and happy at work. They are also more cost-effective in the long run than a chair with basic adjustability that may break down after only a year or two of usage; advanced ergonomic chairs are designed to last ten years or longer with warranties that reflect this. Your wallet may not be happy but your back will thank you for years to come.
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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.