The effect of a computer chair on our body is perhaps the best-known subject of ergonomics, the science of maximizing efficiency by minimizing discomfort.
With more and more people spending their whole days at work in front of a computer, chair design has become an important consideration.
If we were to determine how much time we spend in our office chair, we would be surprised. At 40 hours per week, we would rack up approximately 1900 hours over the course of the year. When we multiply that by an average number of years we work, it’s easy to see that a large part of our life we spend in an office chair. Some people are spending more time in front of a screen than they spend sleeping!
Office chairs are a part of the decor of any office and most of us try to make sure they look good forgetting about the health influences the chair will have on the person who uses it. It’s a big mistake because the design and ergonomics of the chair should be considered above everything else. Sitting for long periods of time puts a large amount of stress on our back and spine, which can cause back problems and serious discomfort. Learning a bit more about how to choose the right ergonomic office chair can help us stay comfortable throughout our work day and avoid these health issues.
1. Adjustable height option
The height of our computer chair should be fully adjustable. This adjustment will allow for people of different heights to comfortably sit in the chair. Our chair has to be in proper alignment with the computer desk, so it’s suggested to select the chair which seat can be easy moved either upwards or downwards. The rule is that when we look at our computer monitor, we should be able to look directly at it. A seat height that ranges from about 16 to 21 inches off the floor works for most people. This allows us to have feet flat on the floor while our knees are bent at ninety-degree angles and arms even with the height of the desk.
2. Seat width and depth
The computer chair should have enough width and depth to support any user comfortably. A seat width of 17-20 inches is standard and suffices for most people. The depth needs to be enough so that we can sit with our back against the backrest of the chair while leaving approximately 2 to 4 inches between the back of our knees and the seat.
While sitting for a long period of time, we have to remember about supporting our back and its natural shape to prevent injury or strain. The proper ergonomic chair will have full upper and middle back support. The backrest should be 12 to 19 inches wide. Some chairs have a backrest that is separated from the seat and then it should be adjustable in height and angle to support the natural curve of the spine. If the seat and backrest are joined together as one piece, we should be able to adjust it in forward and back angles and it should have a locking mechanism to secure it from going too far backward once we have determined the right angle.
4. Lumbar support
Lower back support in an ergonomic office chair is very important. Some of the better chairs will even have an adjustable lumbar support (both height and depth) that allows us to fit the chair to our lower back. This is crucial in preventing back strain that can worsen, and become a condition that can be debilitating and which is called sciatica.
Good ergonomics do not only focus on the position of the back. Our arms, hands, and wrists are also at risk of injury and strain from daily office activities, especially repetitive ones such as typing or writing. Adjustable armrests are the best option since they allow our arms to rest and relax at the right height. It’s important to notice that if they are improperly adjusted, or if we cannot adjust them at all, they can pose an obstacle during writing or typing that can place our wrists at an awkward angle. However, depending on our work style and requirements, when we are for example scooting across the office to the printer or shredder, we may not want armrests on our office chair because they may get in our way as we move around.
6. Seat material
The proper material for our chair is also very important. We should forget about the leather because the fabric needs to be breathable to keep the chair from becoming hot after a day sitting down. In addition, the material on the seat and back of the office chair should have enough padding that we cannot feel the base through the cushion. If we are spending a lot of time at our computer desk, we want something that will be soft and comfortable. Moreover, we should make sure the chair’s seat is made of high-quality foam. Colour is also a key factor and coordinating it with our whole office space is a must.
The human body was not designed to remain in one position for hours at a time, many office situations require us to sit for the majority of the day. A well-chosen office chair can help to prevent back pain and injury by providing the appropriate support to main trouble areas. However, we should be aware of the fact that the same chair does not fit everyone, so one more advice – we should try out chairs in person! By sitting in a chair, we will be able to feel how comfortable it is and find out if it can be properly adjusted to our needs.