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What to consider when buying an ergonomic chair

We are often asked what should be considered when purchasing a proper chair for a home office? This blog covers key considerations that should be considered when buying a suitable chair for the home office.

  1. Height Adjustable Seat
  2. Adjustable Lumbar Support
  3. High Back
  4. Angle Adjustable and Lockable Backrest
  5. Adjustable Arms
  6. Seat Pan Slider (optional)
  7. 5 casters appropriate to the flooring
  8. Breathable Material

Now let's discuss each of these features in turn:

Seat Height:

The seat pan should have adequate adjustability to allow you to adjust the height so that your hips and knees are at the same height or so that your hips are slightly higher than the knees. Sitting with the hips slightly higher takes strain off the lower back and results in less pressure in the hip joints, but emphasis should be made that the hips should only be slightly higher. The feet should always be supported on the floor or a footrest. Without this support you will experience pressure under the thighs and you may even slide forward in the chair.

Seat Depth:

The seat pan depth should allow 2-3” of space between the seat pan front edge and the calf. Without this space pressure will be placed on the structures behind the knees which may affect circulation. If the chair fits with 2-3” of space, a seat pan slider is not required for the single user. If the chair is to be used by multiple users or adequate space or too much space is present, then a slider is necessary to create the recommended gap between the seat and the back of the knees.

Backrest Height (Lumbar Depth & Height):

The backrest should be high enough to provide support for the shoulder blades and upper back. It should also lock in place to provide adequate support. The backrest or lumbar support should also be height adjustable to allow adequate support for the lower back (lumbar curve). To find the lumbar curve, locate your belly button and then trace a line around your waist to your back where the lumbar curve is located.

Backrest Angle:

The backrest angle should also be adjustable from 90 to 110 degrees to allow for upright posture while working or slight recline to open the hip joints and reduce lumbar compression. In general, the backrest should be able to adjust independent of the seat pan to a point of comfort that is not reclined greater than 110 degrees. Greater than 110 degrees results in awkward neck and upper back postures while viewing the screen from the reclined posture.

Armrest Height:

The armrests should have adequate adjustability to provide support to the forearm with the shoulders relaxed and the elbow at approximately 90 degrees. Forearm support gives support to the shoulder girdle minimizing tension and discomfort in the neck and shoulders. For small statured individuals who have narrow shoulders it may also be necessary to have armrests that swivel and / or glide inwards to support the arm near the trunk rather than requiring the user to abduct the arms away from the body to obtain support. The armrests should also not be too long limiting the user’s ability to get close enough to the desktop resulting in excessive reaching.

Summary:

Prior to purchase, it is necessary to visit a showroom unless an ergonomist has helped select a chair for you. Sitting in the chair is the easiest way to determine if it has the necessary features, fits your stature, and most importantly, if it is comfortable for you.

So, when you are shopping for a new chair consider if it has the necessary features to support your body, if it fits your body and stature, and if it is comfortable for you. Use this checklist to assist you with this evaluation.

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