Ergonomic office chair guide – written by Sarah & Marc – Office Chair Expert .com
A chair for every eventuality
Most of you spend many hours a day at work. In order to fully concentrate on your projects, a comfortable ergonomic office chair is essential. It relieves your back and thighs. An incorrect size or shape may adversely affect the posture and strain-specific body areas unnecessarily. With the wide range of ergonomic office chairs out there, it is often very difficult to find the right one for yourself. This buyer’s guide gives you an overview of the market and also some useful tips to find the perfect ergonomic office chair for you.
Ergonomic Office chair models
Executive chairs and swivel chairs
These ergonomic office chairs are the most popular choice when it comes to a comfortable sitting at work. Due to their popularity, we covered everything you need to know about these kind of ergonomic office chair models in our executive chair buyer’s guide.
- Both models are equipped with wheels and swivel seats, so you can move comfortably at your workplace
- Executive chairs are usually larger than swivel chairs, have an extra padding and are made of higher quality material. They also can be adapted individually compared to swivel chairs.
- These ergonomic office chairs are particularly suitable when several people are using. Seat height and often backrest can be individually customized.
- Swivel chairs are available with or without armrests, executive chairs are usually equipped with such.
PC Gaming chairs
There are many ways to extend the pleasure of playing a video game, and one of these is the pc gaming chair. These chairs come in many potential styles, may have anything from vinyl or cloth covering to expensive leather upholstery, and they’re designed to make the gaming experience more comfortable. PC gaming chairs are build like a sports car’s seat, combined with an ergonomic design. These models gain more and more popularity, not only among gamers, but also among casual people. We have written an informative article together with an overview of the best current models available in our PC gaming chair buyer’s guide.
- PC gaming chairs bear similarity to an ergonomic office chair. Except for the office chair style, quite a few chairs resemble seats found in a car.
- The shorter PC gaming chairs may have extra features like an extended leg rest.
- Some styles are more upright to mimic certain of actions that a person might be simulating in a game, such as a flying or driving.
- Kind of a movement feature is often part of the PC gaming chair style. Many of them rock back and forth or have a sliding element, and some of the chairs have an independent motion system or move more fluidly with the body.
- Additional parts that equip the chair with a mount for steering wheels, gear shifts or other specialized joysticks and controllers are available.
Traditionally, these chairs are designed for drawing tables, in which, for example, architects work.
- We often find draftsman chairs on large work surfaces. They have longer legs and the chair can be easily adjusted in height.
- Often these chairs are equipped with armrests and footrests for better comfort. They are therefore ideally suited for long work.
Swivel working chairs are the ideal solution when you move a lot at your working place with your chair.
- They can be easily adjusted between sitting and standing height.
- This type of an ergonomic office chair is also very space-saving, because it can be pushed under the table when not in use.
- Working chairs are suitable for both large and small work surfaces. The choice in the market is large. Working chairs with an ergonomic design, have an additional back for an upright posture.
- These ergonomic office chairs are also available as a fitness model. Instead sitting on a conventional seat, you can sit on a chair-integrated exercise ball. This allows to work out your back muscles even while sitting.
The ergonomic design of kneeling chairs relieves the lower back muscles. If you tend to having back problems after long work, this kind of an ergonomic office chair is a good choice for you.
- Kneeling chairs improve your posture because joints and muscles are actively practiced while sitting.
- For knee problems but this chair model should not be chosen, since the pressure is shifted from the back to the knee, which are in a fixed position.
Questions you should ask yourself before buying an ergonomic office chair
How much space is available?
Always consider the size of your desk and the space around it when buying an ergonomic office chair. If the space is limited, you should choose a smaller chair, which can be stowed under the table. An executive chair for example will only fit in rather large rooms because of their size and can only be partially slided under the table.
Who will use the office chair?
You should also consider who will sit on the chair. If your ergonomic office chair is used by different people, you should choose a spacious chair with adjustable height and adjustable armrests. Executive armchairs and swivel chairs are well suited for the use by several persons. They can be easily adapted to the respective user and are characterized by their timeless look. For maximum comfort, we also recommend that you choose an ergonomic office chair with upholstery and (adjustable) armrests. Even with a draftsman chair you make a good choice. Due to the easy adaptability of the chair, it can be used by several people.
How many hours will the ergonomic office chair be in use daily?
Finally, you should still consider how much time you or other people will sit in the chair. As a rule of thumb, if you sit more than 3 hours a day in your chair, an ergonomic and comfortable office chair is advisable in any case. Executive armchairs and swivel chairs have a classic and noble look and can be individually adapted. They are also very convenient. If you tend to back pain, a kneeling chair with its special ergonomic features is the optimal choice. However, if you have problems with your back or posture, you should rather choose no work chair without a high backrest. If you have knee pain, kneeling chairs are probably not the best choice for you.
At this stage, we want to point out how important an ergonomic office chair is. An additional ergonomic feature can prevent fatigue, discomfort when sitting and the unilateral burden placed on certain body areas. Since office chairs are often used over extended periods, an ergonomic equipment is essential to ensure both a good posture and a relief on stressed body parts. Ergonomic features of an office chair are:
Adjustable seat height
Sitting and working up to many hours a day, a chair with adjustable seat height offers the highest comfort in the long term. This feature is also particularly useful when the chair is used by people with different heights and at different work surfaces.
When sitting in an office chair, a good lumbar back support should be flush against the small of the back. Many portable lumbar back supports are shaped specifically so that one end should be positioned up and the other down. When placed correctly, a lumbar back support should provide the following benefits:
- Ears, shoulders, and pelvis (hips) are kept in alignment
- Natural inward curvature of the lower spine is maintained
With this extra, you can adjust the seat position freely to your needs. For example, if you want to sit close to the desk, you can slide the seat smoothly forwards, yet remain in an upright sitting position. Your back will be thankful!
Adjustable tilt angle of the backrest
If you do not want to sit upright while working, you can easily adjust the angle of the backrest with this equipment feature. The oscillating movement of the backrest can be locked selectively or set in a way that you can recline and rest a bit.
Adjustable seat tilt
Similar to the adjustment of the inclination angle of the backrest, hereby the angle of the seat can be adjusted individually.
Ergonomic office chairs equipped with castors are indispensable if you move a lot with your chair during work. The castors facilitate the movement between different rooms, since a chair like this does not have to be lifted. Usually 5 castors are attached on a star base of an office chair, which also increases its stability and ensures that the seat is safely on the ground.
Swivel chairs are very popular because they facilitate your various movements in the office. You are able to get easily to every corner of your workplace.
Many ergonomic office chairs are equipped with headrests. They are ideal if you have back problems or just want additional comfort for the head and neck. The concerned muscle regions can relax easily.
Important for frequently used ergonomic office chairs is also a good and high-quality upholstery of the seat and backrest. The upholstery should be soft enough to guarantee maximum comfort but firm enough to support your body weight optimally.
This feature is useful when you are sitting in your chair for a extended period of time. The armrests support your body weight and can be adapted to the individual body size. They can easily be lowered, so that the ergonomic office chair can be stowed under the table to save space when it is not in use.
Ergonomic office chair: Adaptation to the body measurements
An ergonomic office chair can be optimally adjusted to your individual body measurements. How these adjustments have to be made is not that hard – yet, it needs a bit of knowledge to perform it right. In the following, you will find a detailed guide on how to make the correct adjustments of an ergonomic office chair. An alternate method to learn it is to go to your next store for office chairs and ask the specialists there. Most of them know a lot about chairs and look forward to help you.
Ok, let’s get started!
Height, width, weight – Every person has their own individual attributes. In order to support the joints and the back of its user, an ergonomic office chair can be adapted perfectly for everybody using it. To make the right adjustments, please take a look at the image. Now, follow the points from 1 to 7. The settings have to be made from bottom to top.
1.The seat height
- Your lower legs determine the seat height. It is adjusted the right way if your thighs perform a slightly sloped line towards your knees, meaning that your knees – on an imagined vertical line – are located a little under your hip. If you put a marble on your thigh, it would roll towards your knee. It is up to your feeling on how steeply your knees slope. Remember, you have to feel comfortable. The most important thing is, that you always have contact both with your feet to the ground and with your back to the backrest.
Most office chairs are set too low. The annoying consequences are unnecessary tension and stress, especially in the lower back. In contrast, if your setting is too high, it produces an instability and an unnecessary muscle tension in the legs.
2.&3.Seat depth and seat tilt adjustment
- The length of your thighs determines the seat depth. Sit down on your chair and secure a clean contact with the backrest of the chair. If there is a gap of about three to four fingers in width between the seat’s frontal edge and you calves / knees, the seat depth is perfectly adjusted.
- A good office chair allows its user the adjustment of seat depth and tilt in order to adapt to the user’s thigh length. Remember: If your office chair does not allow an individual adjustment, it is simply not suitable for you and you definately should go for an ergonomic office chair.
- When purchasing an ergonomic office chair, you should search for armrests, which are adjustable in height and width and can be optimally adjusted to you.
- Your upper arms determine the armrest’s height. You notice the correct adjustment, when both shoulders stay at a horizontal line while being relaxed and while your lower arms lie on the armrests. The angle between upper and lower arm should be at least 90 degrees.
- In the past, armrests could only be adjusted in height. Here again, the most important criteria for armrests at a glance:
- Height adjustment: The shoulders must be relieved without getting pushed towards your ears.
- Width adjustment: The arms must be neither abducted nor be constrained by the armrests.
- Size: Too long armrests prevent you to get close to the desk so that you have to overcome the emerged gap. Smaller people must pay particular attention to short or recessed armrests.
- Stability: armrests are often used to support when getting up.
- The backrest must match in size and shape to your body. Pay attention to your subjective feeling. To make the correct adjustment in height, the backrest’s largest bulge, the so-called lumbar support, has to be placed to the area of your iliac crest which is at about your waistline. Here, your body has a bony area which is big enough to support you when stretching backwards.
- In practice, most backrests are adjusted way too high because it feels more comfortable for the users in the beginning. This can result in a wrong posture and serious back pain and injuries.
6.The neck or head restraint
- A neck or head restraint not only gives you an opportunity to relief your cervical spine – it relieves your whole back. But in order to do so, it has to be adjusted the right way. The correct setting is simple – you can’t make a mistake. You just have to adjust the restraint to a comfortable position. If it is in the wrong place, you will notice it immediately.
7.The ergonomic office chair’s mechanism
The mechanism of an ergonomic office chair, meaning the movable part, should be set only after making the above-described adjustments of the seat system to your individual body measurements.
Generally, it is healthier to move while sitting, meaning to set the mechanics of your chair to a movable adjustment. Your body lives of pressure and train, tension and relaxation, breathing in and out, of strain and relieve – briefly speaking, of changing dynamic processes. So use the movement impulses of the chair’s mechanics.
The setting of the mechanism depends on your torso length and your upper body weight. With mechanics enabled, sit down in an upright seating position. Now move your upper body slightly forwards and backwards. Pay attention to the fact that the contact with the backrest must be maintained. These are the characteristics of a correct adjustment:
- You do not have the feeling to plop or tilt back, but feel equally held by the rest, as they move in the rear seating position.
- On the way back towards the frontal seating position, you neither have to exert your abdominal muscles nor to push your head forwards. The backrest is pleasantly supporting you on the way forwards because of the set pressure.
Let someone else watch you from the side. When moving between the forward and backward tilt (approximately 30 °), the ear – shoulder – hip line, meaning the imagined line staring at your ear and going through the middle of you shoulder to your hip, shall remain. Pitching motions in the cervical spine or tilting movements in the hip are an indication that the setting of the mechanism is not yet optimal.
20 evaluation criteria for an ergonomic office chair
- Ergonomic office chairs should meet the requirements of ISO 21015:2007
- The adjustment of the seat height needs to be higher than the required standard height (380-530 mm). You should aim for an adjustment of 570mm and more. Exceptions may be office chairs for very small people. A possible change of gas springs with different lengths is an advantageous option.
- Thus the seat can be set correctly to the length of the thighs, the seat depth must be adjustable by at least 100 mm.
- Thus the so-called ratchet effect can’t occur, the seat should not be raised in the back area.
- The frontal edge of the seat should be rounded and should not be hard.
- The seat cushion of an ergonomic office chair should not be too soft.
- The backrest must be adjustable in height. Following the modular design, different heights within the same model should be available. We recommend an additional height adjustment of the lumbar support.
- The ergonomic office chair must have a moving mechanism. The mobility must be individually adjustable to the body weight and must allow fluid movements between the different seating positions (front, center, rear).
- Armrests, if existent, always have to be adjustable in height and ideally can also be customized in width.
- The ergonomic office chair is individually chosen, so it fits perfectly on the body stature. The table height has to be included in the considerations.
- Activities and habits of the user have to be regarded. For example: Which seating position is occupied mainly, is it a pure monitor work or a mixed activity?
- The ergonomic office chair is given to its user on trial and he is individually trained in the use of the chair (Settings, motion options, accessories).
- The target is maximum satisfaction (subjective survey), a conversion period of the “New” is scheduled.
- A selected model should cover all fields of application from the clerk to the boss.
- All products of this series must offer 100% ergonomics.
- To cover problematic cases or changes in activities, it should be possible to upgrade important functions (for example: headrest, footrest, ESD castors, armrests).
- A briefing of staff on the new ergonomic office chair models is carried out by specially trained personnel.
- The ergonomic office chairs are of high quality and durable and should comply with the current standards or even exceed them.
- The services of the supplier are of high quality.
- The reaction time (quoting, delivery, complaint handling) of the supplier is short.
Care tips: How to clean your ergonomic office chair
Those who work at a desk are often sitting more than 40 hours a week in their office chairs. You should already look for a high-quality processing and the possibility of ergonomic adjustments by the time you are buying the office chair. After the purchase, the regular maintenance and cleaning of the chair is very important to extend its life and to maintain its physical appearance.
Safety note: When cleaning the ergonomic office chair, you should in particular pay close attention to the gas spring, which is always to be handled with care! Avoid applying chemicals to this sensitive part because you could cause serious injuries to yourself or to someone else!
Better don’t rely on domestic remedies
On the web, you will find many tips on how to supposedly get seats of office chairs clean again by using shaving foam. We urgently do not recommend to do that – otherwise ugly water marks occur, which often make things worse. The investment of about $5-10, which is the cost of a good upholstery cleaner, is bearable in contrast to a ruined office chair. This manual is a guide and we assume no responsibility for any resulting damage to the chair. When in doubt, always ask the chair’s manufacturer if you don’t have any information on the cleaning. We are happy to check this information for you as well – you can contact us by using the contact form.
How to clean fabric and mesh chairs
Fabric covers should be cleaned at least once a year, or you should hire a cleaning company for it. Dust, dirt and bodily exhalations penetrate the cover and because of the resulting friction, the fibers may get damaged. Mesh chairs are harder to clean than chairs with fabric covers. To remove small impurities, a vacuum cleaner helps enormously in this case.
Cleaning the seat
The office chair is cleaned with a foam cleaner or a special upholstery. If there are care instructions of the manufacturer, you should absolutely pay attention to them – as well as the to the instructions written on the detergent.
- You should test the cleaner on an inconspicuous place before the start.
- Before the foam cleaner is used, you should vacuum the seat cover and the backrest with a vacuum cleaner to remove superficial dirt or loose dust.
- Next step is to loosen deep-seating dust by using a scrubbing brush. The loosened dirt should then be removed with a vacuum cleaner.
- Only now the foam cleaner is used. Spray the office chair generously with the cleaner and work it in using a sponge.
- The detergent must be completely dry before using the vacuum cleaner again to vacuum the now dissolved contaminants.
- The scrubbing brush is again used to remove the last remnants of the cleaner and deeper-seated dirt.
- Depending on how dirty your office chair is, you must repeat the above steps several times.
Ergonomic office chairs with leather upholstery
Office chairs with leather covers need special cleaning. You may not use harsh cleaners, which would damage the leather. Most of the time, the use of a damped cloth is sufficient to remove stains and dirt. The cloth should not be too wet – otherwise unsightly water marks will appear on the leather. Ideally, you simply need to follow the care instructions of the manufacturer, or request them.
Maintenance and Care
The ones who maintain their ergonomic office chairs regularly will have a long pleasure with them. Of course, it is the best to avoid stains and dirt from scratch. This is often easier said than done. You should immediately remove stains of hot drinks or stains of a pen. The longer the stains remain in the fabric, the more difficult they are to remove. Fresh stains can be removed completely again.
Check the bolts regularly
Every six months, you should check your ergonomic office chair for loose nuts and bolts. In everyday use, these parts may loosen and cause injuries at worst. Pay attention to defective rollers or cracks in important parts. The inspection of the office chair usually takes only a few seconds, but increases the safety at work. You can exchange defective parts or ask the manufacturer if the chair is still under warranty.
Extend the life of your ergonomic office chair
In order that your office chair remains handsome for a long time, you should regard a few basic things. To prevent the color to fade and the chair getting unsightly, it should be protected from direct sunlight. Also a place right next to the heating causes faster aging of the office chair. If you follow these tips and clean your chair regularly and also inspect it for damage, you will enjoy your office chair for a long time.