Finding the right office chair is not only an important task but is also becoming crucial as the time spent sitting in a sedentary position has increased with hectic work schedules and the demands careers in business fields bring. The problem is, unless you are an ergonomist or have one readily available at your dispense, it is difficult to determine how to find a chair that will properly fit your body. The right office chair should uniformly support the body, allow for easy movement, be easy to adjust, provide long-term comfort, and help to maintain proper posture. Just like people, office chairs come in varying shapes and sizes. The problem is not every person will fit into one uniform chair design, unless your proportions perfectly match up with the design of the chair. If your chair is not properly fitted to your proportions you will find overtime that you will begin to experience discomfort which can lead to more serious problems over time. Consider the following tips before purchasing your next office chair.
The depth of a seat is an essential component in the overall comfort of your office chair. If you have a seat that is too small you will not get the support necessary for your thighs to sit comfortably throughout the day. If your seat is too big, this will put pressure against the back of your knees which can also cause discomfort. While seated, measure the distance from the back of your knee to the back rest. You should have about an inch and a half or 2-3 fingers distance between the seat edge and back of the knee. If you are unsure of if a seat will be too short for you, consider finding a chair that has the option for a seat slider which allows for you to adjust the depth of your chair.
Your chair should allow you to sit with your feet flat on the floor or on a foot rest with knees bent at a 90 degree angle. This can be achieved with the proper seat height. Measure the height from the floor to the crease at the back of the knee. Take into consideration the type of footwear that you typically wear to work, heel for example may add a few inches onto the height of the seat needed. Most office chairs will only come with one cylinder size which allows for about a 4″ range of adjustment, however, some specialty ergonomic chairs have the option for different height cylinders which can be of use to individuals that are taller or shorter.
Many of today's computer users experience neck/shoulder pain due to their arms being elevated and unsupported. Armrests are designed to support the neck and shoulder muscles, however if you are not careful in your selection they may limit access to the keyboard or your desk. Armrests should not restrict movement or access to a workstation. The armrest height should be the same as resting elbow height, they should not be higher or lower or this will cause discomfort. Look for armrests that can be width and height adjustable to properly align them to your body's needs. Shoulders and upper arms should be in line with the torso generally about perpendicular to the floor and relaxed (not elevated or stretched forward).
The shape of the back rest should follow the natural curve of your back. This is why many office chairs are designed with an “S” shape curve in order to conform to the natural shape of one's back. Often back rests are fixed in place making it difficult to properly support the natural shape of taller or shorter user's backs. An adjustable back rest or lumbar support eliminates this problem and allows for the user position the back rest to meet the shape of their spine. The height of the back is another concern. For those that experience upper back pain, it is essential to find a taller back that will fully support their shoulders and neck.
The seat cushion should fully support your frame in both depth and width. A seat cushion that is too small will not provide full support and one that is too large will not allow for comfortable utilization of the armrests. Look at the distance between armrests to make sure they are not too wide where one needs to reach to use the armrest or too narrow where one is not able to sit.