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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.
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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A multitude of jobs consist of sitting in front of a computer typing for eight hours or more a day; then some of us proceed to go home and spend even more time behind the computer. If you fall into this category of having an office job or you spend large periods of time in front of your computer, it is important to have proper seating to ensure productivity and alertness throughout the day. An eight hour work day already seems long enough, but if you are uncomfortable the whole day because of a bad computer chair, it can draw out the day even more. With so much time being spent sitting and typing during a typical day, it is important to take your comfort into consideration when deciding to purchase a new computer chair. Choosing the right chair for you may depend on a number of different factors, but first and foremost above price and all other extraneous determinants, make sure it is going to be something you will feel comfortable sitting in all day.
When selecting your new computer chair, one of the key features you will want to look for is an adjustable height option. Most if not all good computer chairs come standard with an adjustable height option to accommodate for users of varying heights and also to be in proper alignment with computer desks. Not one standard chair height fits all users, which is why it is important to have a chair that is going to be adjustable to meet your height requirement and allow you to keep you feet firmly planted on the floor with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Computer desks also come in different shapes sizes and your chair should be able to properly under it. In work environments with higher workstations, an adjustable height option is absolutely necessary.
Another key feature to look for in your computer chair is to make sure the seat is going to be comfortable enough for you to sit on for multiple hours a day. If you prefer a softer sit, look for computer chairs that have a memory foam, gel seat, or triple density foam which are all comprised of durable materials that are designed to conform to your body's natural shape. If you prefer a firmer sit, look for high density foam or a chair with a mesh seat. Both options will give you the firm sit, be durable enough to handle long days of sitting, and will give in a little over time making the seat a bit softer but not enough to give you the feeling of memory foam. Leather seats are also a viable option if you are looking for a little bit of a softer sit. Keep in mind that during the summer if you live somewhere that experiences high temperatures, a leather seat may cause you to sweat more because the material is not as breathable as say a mesh seat. Also take your personal requirements into consideration, if you are of shorter stature consider getting a seat that has a smaller depth than a typical chair to ensure you have one to two inches of breathing room from the back of your knees to the front of the seat. If you are a bigger or taller individual, look into purchasing a big and tall chair which is specifically designed to allow enough seating room and seat depth for those of taller stature.
Having a tilting option on a computer chair is ideal, as it can increase your comfort while sitting. With the ability to lean back throughout parts of the day, you will significantly decrease the chance of developing neck and back pain that may arise from sitting in the same position throughout the day. Chairs that come with a tilting option usually have either a knee tilt mechanism or a spring tilt mechanism. Opt for a knee tilt mechanism over a spring tilt if possible, because a knee tilt mechanism will allow you to tilt back while your feet are flat on the floor which will alleviate pressure on your thighs.
There are additional options that can be added onto computer chairs to make your sitting experience even more comfortable, though not as necessary as the above features. A chair that comes with a ratchet back is a great feature to have, especially if multiple people are using the same chair, as it allows for the back to be raised up and down to provide support in the right areas of the particular individual. Some chairs also come with a seat slider option which is optimal to have for either a single user or if multiple people share the chair. This allows for the user to move the chair's seat forward or back to adjust the seat's depth. The right computer chair for you will not be the same for someone else, ultimately it comes down to if the chair is going to be comfortable enough for you to sit in all day and if it will have enough adjustments to meet your body's needs.
When you are sitting in your office chair throughout the day the last thing that probably comes to your mind is the seat you are sitting on, let alone what type of seat it is and if it has a seat slider adjustment. None of this really ever comes to mind, unless you are on a search for a new chair, especially if you are looking into getting a more ergonomically correct chair. The seat is one of the most important parts of the chair, after all it is what most of us sit on for eight hours or more everyday. You are going to want a seat that is going to be able to keep you comfortable throughout the day and have the proper adjustments available to meet your body's needs. That being said, not all office chair seats are created equal.
When you are looking at the seat of a chair, look for the side contour of the seats, as well as the waterfall front, shown in the Humanscale Freedom Chair to the right. These two features allow for optimal blood flow through your legs. Optimal blood flow reduces yawning and tiredness (because you yawn and get tired from a lack of oxygen, which can come from bad circulation, drinking water helps this too). The contoured seat pan is definitely an ergonomic benefit which is a standard feature in most true ergonomic chairs.
Some chair companies offer the option of a saddle seat, or a tractor seat. These, shown on the right, are highly specialized solutions for people that need to remain in the same position, and are generally geared towards those with hip problems because the contours give you more support than being parallel and alleviate pressure points. We do not recommend them, unless there are specific seating needs required that necessitate a tractor seat, as for a standard person looking for basic ergonomic support would feel uncomfortable. The tractor seat does not come standard on chairs, it is a special seat offered by specific manufacturers.
Chairs that offer multiple adjustments for their users, sometimes offer an adjustment know as a seat slider. The seat slider is the device that adjusts the seat pan forwards or backwards. It is essentially a ratchet back feature for the seat. The slider helps the chair adjust to the user, not vice versa. Its importance to a chair's overall ergonomic nature can be determined by the type of seat cushion in the chair. This feature can help adjust the user so that they are getting full use of the waterfall feature on the front of the seat, as well as provide the user the ability to fit into the contours of the seat comfortably. For taller people, the seat slider is a great feature, as it adjusts the seat to the right depth.
If used properly, the seat slider can add more comfort and customize the office chair to the user. Most ergonomic chairs will have this as an additional option. The seat slider in terms of ergonomic benefit is definitely a needed upgrade because it gives the user an additional adjustment, to make their office chair fit their needs.
Contoured seats and seat sliders, while they may appear to be more of a luxury than a necessity, in reality are one of the most important elements to every chair. Just as you want the back of your chair to provide you with ergonomic support, you also want your seat to give you ergonomic support as well. With a well designed ergonomic chair that is tailored to fit the user's body, aches and pains will no longer be an everyday occurrence and getting through long work days feeling tired and groggy will be eliminated as well. For more information on office chairs and their features visit our Chairs 101 section.