Choosing an Office Chair
A lot of work nowadays is desk based, which means you can often spend significant periods of your work day sitting in a chair at a desk. It is important, therefore, that your chair and desk are comfortable and you sit in a way that is not going to lead to postural problems. There has been rapid advance in chair technology in recent years, which has resulted in a wide variety of seating options. Things that you might want to consider when choosing a chair include:
- Seat Height: It is important to be able to vary the height of your chair in order to ensure that you can position yourself correctly for different workstation tasks. There is some research to indicate that unsupported feet can increase pressure on the spine and so make sure you can touch your feet on the floor, on at least one of the adjustable height settings.
- Thigh Length: Make sure the depth of the chair is suitable for the length of your thighs. Ideally, you should be able to put a small fist between the edge of the chair and the back of your knees.
- Tilt Adjustments: Tilt adjustments are growing increasingly popular because they can allow you to change your posture during the day, which may help distribute seating pressure more evenly over the body. In addition, tilt tension controls allow you to make it easier or harder to be able to change the tilt.
- Castors: Make sure you get the correct castors for the type of floor that the chair will be positioned on. Soft castors are better for hard surfaces.
- Armrests: Ideally, you want to keep your arms bent at approximately 90 degrees when typing etc. It can be useful, therefore, to have armrests that are adjustable to your body dimensions. You can end up spending a lot of time resting your arms on arm rests and so it is advisable to make sure the chair has enough padding on the armrest that will conform to the weight of your arm.
- Lumbar Supports: Inadequate lower back (lumbar) support can put pressure on the lower back and so it is important that the chair has adequate lumbar support. Some of the highly engineered chairs have an adjustable lumbar support, which enables you to change the angle of support. Other chairs have adjustable height back supports, which means you can place the lumbar support in the best position for your dimensions. If you cannot afford a chair with good lumbar support, you can always consider a separate back support or lumbar roll, which are designed to do the same job.
- Head Support: Some of the more recently designed chairs have a headrest support. These are designed to keep your head in a comfortable position and help offload the muscles that support your head and neck.
So far we have described the features of a conventional chair. However, it is worth noting that there are other office seating solutions including:
- Saddle Chairs: An ergonomic alternative to an office chair is a saddle seat. Saddle seats have a distinctive design that looks like a riding saddle and has no back support. The seat of a saddle chair is angled forward which keeps your pelvis tilted forward when you are sitting. There are a range of saddle seats available and they can be used in the office or for light assembly work.
- Kneeling Chairs: Kneeling chairs were introduced to the public in the 1970s. They are designed in such a way that your thighs are positioned approximately 60 to 70 degrees to your trunk. In this position, your pelvis is rotated forward and some of the body weight is taken through the shins. Manufacturers of kneeling chairs argue that the kneeling chair helps maintain the natural curves of the spine during sitting and distributes weight more evenly throughout the body. More research is necessary to prove whether kneeling chairs offer any superior benefits over conventional chairs.