Posted on June 30, 2011
If I could recommend one item for a workstation, it would be an ergonomic chair. All it takes is one day of back pain to understand the importance of an adjustable, supportive, ergonomic office chair. What makes a chair "ergonomic" is the adjustability - the ability to customize the chair for the person sitting in it. No person's body is the same, so it makes perfect sense that no single office chair is suitable for all people. Ergonomic chairs offer the benefit of allowing you to fit the chair to YOU - so you know that you are getting the support where you need it, and will stay comfortable, happy and healthy!
What to look for in an office chair:
Adjustability and comfort are the most important factors in choosing an office chair. Look for a chair that has these adjustments:
1. Pneumatic lift - ability to raise/lower the chair
2. Tilting Backrest
3. Back Height Adjustment
4. Tilting Seat
5. Sliding Seat
6. Rocking Tilt
7. Tension Knob
8. Adjustable Lumbar
9. Forward Tilting
How to adjust your ergonomic chair:
Start by raising or lowering the seat to the correct height for you. You want your knees to be at about a 90 degree angle from the floor, if not a bit more. Make sure your feet are resting flat on the floor though, which will push you back in your chair and force you to use the back of the chair for support.
Next adjust the chair back - many chairs have an adjustable back where you lift the chair back as high as it goes, then drop it down all the way. Then, you can raise it up notch by notch until the curve of your back fits perfectly with the lumbar curve of the chair. You may also be able to pump up the lumbar support area as firm or soft as you like it, and adjust the tension of the back. You can also move the backrest forward or back, depending on how straight up you want to sit.
Next, move on to the seat. You should be able to slide the seat forward or back. You want to be sitting so that you have a 2 to 3 finger distance from the edge of the seat to the back of your knees. Tilt the seat forward or back until it's comfortable - you'll probably want it to be pretty flat. Many people like to tilt the seat forward when they are getting up - this makes it easier to stand up.
Lastly, if your chair has arms, make sure they are low enough that you can slide all the way into your desk without them hitting the desk. Remember, they are called arm rests for a reason - you should use them when you are resting, and not as much when you are actually working/typing. Make sure they are also low enough that you can type with your elbows at about a 90 degree angle.
Solutions for non-adjustable chairs:
If you are unable to purchase a new, ergonomic chair, you can improve the comfort and support of your current chair with an inexpensive lumbar or seat cushion. I like the Obus Forme Lumbar Support with Massage. It's inexpensive, yet adds that much needed lumbar support - with a built in massage!