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What is an Ergonomic Office Chair?

There are many office chairs out on the market that claim to be ergonomic office chairs or orthopaedic office chairs. Ergonomic really just means fit for the purpose of providing a safe, comfortable and efficient working environment. So an ergonomic chair is one that is safe and comfortable and fits your needs within your working environment. The word orthopaedic has been somewhat hijacked from the medical field specializing in disorders of the bones and joints. So an orthopaedic office chair is really a synonym for an ergonomic office chair.
What are the attributes and characteristics we should be looking for in an ergonomic office chair? Well I’ve listed some of them below with a few elements to consider for each.

Supportive

We are looking for the chair that promotes good posture and gives support to key areas of the body, especially the spine and in particular the lower back.
Features to consider:
Backrest profile/shape
Position of the pelvis and hips (and the angle of the thighs)
No pressure points should be created between due to a build up of uneven contact on the backrest or seat.

Adjustable

We want to make sure that the chair doesn’t just fit our body shape and size, but also so it fits into our working environment. There is no such thing as one good posture for the whole day of desk work. We must regularly adjust the chair throughout the day; this form of more active sitting prevents the build up of strain on certain areas of the body.

Ideally the following should be adjustable:

  • Backrest height
  • Lumbar (lower back) support
  • Seat Height
  • Seat angle
  • Seat Depth
  • Arm rests
  • Seat angle
  • Rocking motion
  • Body tension for rocking motion

You may also want:

  • Neck support or a headrest
  • Inflatable air cell in the seat to change the pressure and increase the movement around your backside and thighs.
  • Coccyx cut out

Protective

Certain areas of the body such as the lower back, neck, shoulders, elbows and wrists can all develop repetitive strain problems if we spend too long in poor postures. A chair that supports you in your neutral posture and allows you to move whilst sat down is key in preventing these problems.

Corrective

If you do have a painful problem such as a lower back injury you want to make sure the chair isn’t making things worse and is actually encouraging you to adopt good postures.

Non restricting

Having good support is one thing but you still need to be able to move when you are sat down, but also be able to easily get up and down from the chair and move around your workstation. You also need to can stretch and bring your shoulders back into good posture without banging into the backrest.

Versatile

If you are the only user of the chair then this doesn’t matter so much, but if there are other frequent users of the chair, you may need to take their requirements into consideration too.

Visually interesting or appealing

This might include having a colour you like, but it’s great to be able to make a statement with your chair, so it’s a bit more interesting than the rather mundane looking and run of the mill chairs in so many offices.