What do you need to consider when buying an ergonomic chair, you ask? This guide should have all you need to know.
What to Consider When Buying an Ergonomic Chair
There are eight main things to keep an eye on with an ergonomic chair:
- Height-Adjustable Seat
- Adjustable Lumbar Support
- High Back
- Angle-Adjustable and Lockable Backrest
- Adjustable Arms
- Seat Pan Slider (optional)
- Five casters appropriate to the flooring
- Breathable Material
The seat pan needs adequate adjustability, allowing you to adjust the height so your hips and knees are at the same height, or with the hips slightly higher. This takes strain off the lower back and results in less pressure in the hip joints. The feet should always be supported on the floor or a footrest. Without this support you will experience pressure under the thighs and may even slide forward in the chair.
The seat pan depth should allow 5-8 cm (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 5-8 cm of space, a seat pan slider is not required for the single user. If the chair is to be used by multiple users 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.
The backrest needs to be high enough to support the shoulder blades and upper back, and 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.
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.
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.
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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