When it comes to ergonomic chairs, many people will probably automatically think of those giant Pilates balls that are sometimes seen in trendy offices. Several people swear by these giant balls, but from an ergonomic viewpoint they unfortunately don’t really tick any boxes. Despite them promoting an upright posture as well as activation of your core, they are definitely not a full day solution. In fact, the question if they should be used at all, is open to debate. There are other solutions that are far more practical, versatile and substantially better for your comfort and health.
In a nutshell, an ergonomic chair is all about adjustability. As being seated correctly, does not initially always equate to being comfortable, an ergonomic chair might not always start out with being as comfortable as you would think. Be warned that this correct position might take some getting used to. The adjustability of the chair should allow you to get into the correct position for your specific posture and workstation needs. It should also allow you to change your positioning on demand to ensure that you take on a different position when needed. This should, in turn assist with sustained comfort, making the user more productive while also taking their health and safety into consideration.
So what should you look for in an ergonomic chair? There are some minimum requirements when selecting ergonomic seating. These requirements include:
- Adjustable height – the ideal sitting position is to have your knees slightly lower than your hips with your feet firmly supported flat on the floor. Your elbows should be at around 90 degrees when working on your desk. For many of us, the only way to achieve this is with the use of a footrest. Never underestimate the difference that a footrest can make.
- Adjustable back rest height – the back of the chair should be adjustable to suit the contours of your lumbar spine, providing optimal support. The alternative to this is that some ergonomic chairs have flexible, dynamic backrests. These can be more challenging as they force you to engage your core while seated. Some users love the stability while other prefer the movement. This is a personal choice, which is normally a function of your activity level and underlying back issues. The best is to try out both and see which option you prefer.
- Ability to swivel – a chair that swivels smoothly with little effort gives the ability to turn while seated, thus making movement easier and less stressful on the body.
- Adjustable pan depth – experts state that the best position for seating is when there is space for two to four fingers between the back of the knee and the front of the seat. Adjusting this is one of the most overlooked features which, unfortunately not all ergonomic chairs offer.
- Adjustable armrests – there are some tasks where arms on a chair make work challenging. When they are needed on an ergonomic chair, they should at least be adjustable in height. Adjustment in width and pivotal arms are also an For those who type a lot, angle adjustable arms ensures a more productive and comfortable user.
- Stable wheels on quality casters – another often overlooked element of an ergonomic seat is the base with its wheels or casters. Good quality casters and a minimum of a five-spoke base are must-haves when selecting an ergonomic chair.
- Movement and posture changes – being able to change position a few times during the work day has been shown to increase productivity. Movement increases blood flow and thus tiredness and fatigue are reduced. Many ergonomic chairs encourage movement through a dynamic mechanism or, has the ability to recline on demand.
- Headrest – not all users want and need a headrest. As with the level of dynamic movement that the chair offers, this is also a personal decision. The need for a headrest is normally a function of your posture and preferred working position. If you often work in a reclined position, a headrest is a must-have item.
It’s worthwhile knowing that there are ergonomic chairs that do not look like normal office chairs. They are extremely good for posture and a great deal more comfortable than expect. Saddle chairs and wobble stools are becoming very popular and make a great seating solution. The wobble chair also offers a very good alternative to using a Pilates ball. With its height adjustability, the wobble stool is like a Pilates ball on steroids!
Finally, one needs to ask the question “Do you need to sit?” Standing and sit-stand desk options are becoming part of the more ergonomic and highly effective and productive office environment. Considering the entire role of a person and ascertaining whether standing, sitting or a combination of the two is more effective, is the real question to ask when choosing an ergonomic seat. Have you asked the question? Read some of our other blogs on the benefits of alternating between sitting and standing by clicking here.