In today’s culture, indoor jobs are the norm, not the exception. Many of them are office positions, whether it’s a traditional office, or a recent uptick in home office positions for those who prefer to work remotely.
No matter how you slice it, you may find yourself sitting throughout a huge portion of your day. Not only is sitting all day a big detour from working on say, a farm––it can also have negative effects on your body when done day in and day out.
There’s nothing worse than being parked at an office desk for hours, then getting up to find your back or tailbone ache because you didn’t take enough breaks to stand and walk and move around, no matter if you’re in a task chair vs office chair vs lounge chair.
Obviously, this is a big problem that can impact both productivity and your ability to be successful at what you do. After all, who can focus when they’re uncomfortable or in pain? So, if you’re wondering what to look for in an office chair, let us introduce you to ergonomic office chairs.
What Does Ergonomic Mean?
The term ergonomic refers to the science that aims to design and develop things that best compliment human physiology and allow for safe, comfortable, and easy interaction between humans and said things.
What is an ergonomic chair, then? Following this logic, an ergonomic chair is a chair that’s designed to provide optimum support and comfort for your body, while keeping in consideration all the requirements necessary for healthy posture, superior comfort, and proper support. Such consideration does not occur in non ergonomic chair options.
However, ergonomic chairs are not a separate type of chair; in fact, they are just improved versions of already existing chair designs, with added features to best suit the user and conform the task chair to fit their needs.
Features of an Ergonomic Chair
When speaking of ergonomic office furniture, generally all chairs must have at least the following basic features. Some may have additional features too, but they must have the basic minimum to be called ergonomic.
Arguably one of the most important features of an ergonomic chair is the height adjustment feature, as it allows you to customize the chair according to your specific needs. Instead of a one-size-fits-all design, these ergonomic chairs have an adjustable seat height so that your feet stay flat on the floor, which is the healthiest posture to adopt.
If the chair height is too high, your dangling legs and feet can soon become sore and numb. Meanwhile, if the chair is too low, you may feel cramped and be forced to fold your legs too much. Eventually this position will get uncomfortable, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first.
Obviously, both of these situations can have an adverse effect on your work and productivity levels, because they cause disruptions and leave you feeling uncomfortable. When you’re comfy in your chair, that’s one less thing to worry about so you can focus on doing the work!
Suitable Seat Depth
The usual seat depth for a normal chair for the office––ergonomic or not––is around 17 to 20 inches. However, depending on your body type and requirements, the chair of your choice should be able to accommodate you easily, allowing you to sit comfortably and move around if needed.
As a rule of thumb, your ergonomic seating depth should leave roughly 2 to 4 inches between the edge of the seat and your knees. As an added bonus, it’s always great if the forward and backward tilt of the chair is adjustable.
If there’s one thing you should care about, care about proper back support! The average office worker spends anywhere between 10 to 15 hours a day in a chair, which is basically at least half of the day. In such situations, your chair needs to provide the best lumbar support possible, to prevent a variety of back pains and issues.
A good ergonomic chair features lower back support designed to accommodate the inward curve of your lower back––AKA lumbar support. Without that support, the curve of your back can flatten and cause undue strain on your lower back. When you sit in a chair with proper lumbar support, you can feel the difference. Sitting is much more comfortable and easy, even for prolonged periods of time.
Advantages of an Ergonomic Chair
Reduces Back Pain
An ergonomic chair is designed to provide proper support and promote healthy posture. If these conditions are fulfilled, it will automatically lead to a reduction in back and neck pain. This is because the adjustable height ensures that your neck isn’t strained too much, while proper lumbar support alleviates and prevents back pain.
As mentioned above, ergonomic chairs are designed to provide overall posture support, from your neck to your feet, provided you also know how to sit! In other words, sit in a good position, not with your feet on your desk or sprawled out with your ankles crossed.
Relieves Hip Pressure
When there is proper cushioning in the seat area, as well as lumbar support, especially for your lower back, your body weight is distributed equally and no unnecessary strain is placed on your hip bones and lower discs in your spine.
Adjustability features not only make a desk chair more comfortable for you to sit in, it also allows other people to sit in the chair comfortably too. Whoever sits in it can customize the chair to best suit their needs, which means you can share the chair with say, a co-worker who might work on alternate days. That makes ergonomic seating budget-friendly to boot!
Improves Blood Circulation
If your feet are sitting flat on the ground, and your arms are parallel to the floor, this position allows proper blood circulation in your body. Otherwise, blood flow can become disrupted, potentially creating negative effects within your circulatory system.
Remember that if you’re comfortable as you sit and work, you’re more likely to be able to focus on your work. This ability to focus leads to a direct enhancement of overall productivity.
An ergonomic desk chair can make your work place area safer and more convenient. Not only does such a chair help you keep a healthy posture, the tilt and recline features can allow you to grab things with ease, that otherwise might be just out of reach.
Sitting in an Ergonomic Seat
Keep in mind that while ergonomic furniture is a wonderful addition to any office, it’s important to mention that buying an ergonomic chair does not necessarily ensure you will have good posture, especially if you don’t know how to sit the right way. Sitting properly is paramount for healthy sitting conditions.
What does it look like to sit properly? Good question! In order to maintain good posture, your neck should always be relaxed and in a neutral position; not twisted toward either side.
The top of your computer screen should be eye-level, to prevent any craning or slouching of your neck and shoulders. Your arms should be parallel to the floor, and your feet should be flat on the floor.
All of these factors when combined together, form the basics of good posture that won’t cause unnecessary strain anywhere. Instead, sitting properly helps to divide your weight appropriately for maximum comfort.
How to Choose an Ergonomic Office Chair
The material of your chair can be metal, plastic, or wood––the choice depends entirely on personal preference. However, the covering of the chair frame should be a breathable and light fabric, to allow for airflow and prevent your chair from becoming hot and uncomfortable when sitting for prolonged periods.
A great ergonomic chair should also have ample cushioning in the seat area to allow for proper body weight distribution. Otherwise, unequal weight distribution may lead to back pain and discomfort. Additionally, look for a chair with a back that also features some cushioning as a form of lumbar support.
All ergonomic chairs should have height adjustment knobs, as well as a back recline knob, adjustable lumbar support, and head rest. For added benefit, a chair with swivel or wheels can also make it comfortable for many people.
If you haven’t quite found the perfect ergonomic chair, be sure to consider our inventory. We at Juniper Office Solutions offer a wide variety of office furniture, including office chairs with excellent ergonomic designs that provide proper support and comfort for any user.
You can browse from our wide office ergonomics collection online, right from the comfort of your own office. (See what we did there?) Our goal is to benefit both you and the environment at the same time, by offering sustainable office furniture with unique, ergonomic designs that work for a variety of tastes and styles.
Remember, a great ergonomic chair can mean the difference between a long, painful, distracted day where you get little to nothing done, or a day that flies by while you work comfortably, in ‘flow’ state, at your maximum productivity level. You choose!