The 8 characteristics of a good ergonomic chair

How can you sit with good posture if your chair doesn’t even support you?

Finding the right ergonomic chair may seem like a daunting task at first.

You probably have some questions such as…

  • How do I know if a chair is suitable for me?
  • What are the main features to look out for?
  • Do I need arm rests?
  • (.. and so on.)

In this blog post, I’ll go over all of the features that you should look for in an ergonomic chair.

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What to look for in an ergonomic chair


Note:

The main feature to look for is adjustability.

The more that you are able to modify the chair, the better you can customize it to suit your individual needs.


1. Adjustable height

Some of us have long legs… and others not so much.

(Point being – we come in all different shapes and sizes!)

It is imperative for the height of the chair to be able to be adjusted as to accommodate for your own specific measurements.


The seat height will be dictated by the length of your tibia (lower leg) bone.


To set up the chair to the correct height:

  • a) Your hip and knees must be at a 90-100 degrees angle.
  • b) Your feet must be flat on the floor.
    • (If you have shorter legs, consider using a foot stool)
  • c) Your chair should not collide with the table top.
    • Consider raising the desk height if required.

2. Adjustable seat depth

When you sit right back into the chair (with your lower back supported), there should be a 2-3 fingers gap between the edge of your seat and the back of your knee crease.

This is to:

  • a) encourage optimal thigh support and
  • b) prevent any pressure behind the knees.

The amount of seat depth required is dictated by the length of the femur (upper leg) bone.

  • Long femurs will require more seat depth
  • Short femurs will require less seat depth.

3. Adjustable seat tilt

The seat of the chair should be flat or tilted slightly forward.

This will help promote the most neutral position of the pelvis.


Sit on your “Sit bones”:

The aim is to position the pelvis so that you are sitting directly on top of your “sit bones”.

ffr

  • Whilst sitting, slide your hands underneath your hips.
  • Locate the sit bones.
    • (As indicated by the blue dots above.)
    • Feel for a pointy bone digging into your hand.
  • As you sit down, the goal is to sit directly on top of the most “pointiest” part of this bone.
  • Distribute your weight evenly between both buttock cheeks.

4. Adjustable back rest:

The back rest should rest at a 90-100 degree angle to the seat.

To help prevent the build up stress on the lower back:

  • The chair should also have the ability to recline to 120-130 degrees to allow the user to lean back and stretch..

5. Adjustable lumbar support

Supporting the natural arch in your lower back will help you maintain a better posture whilst you are seated.

These should be able to adjusted:

a) Height

The back rest should be at a height where the natural lumbar spine curve is adequately supported.


The appropriate height of the back rest will be dictated by the length of your torso.


b) Amount of support 

Not everyone has the same amount of arch in their lower back.

For this reason – the chair should have the ability to increase/decrease the amount of support required.

A good lumbar support should mould to your lower back and reinforce your natural lumbar arch.

6. Arm rests

I personally feel that you should not have arm rests on an ergonomic chair.

Why?…

  • They often prevent you from getting close to the desk.
  • If set at the wrong height, arm rests will alter your posture.
  • People tend to lean and rely on arm rests to support their posture.

However – if you like to use them, make sure that the height can be adjusted.

Ensure that:

  • a) The forearm is supported comfortably.
  • b) Forearm is parallel with the floor.
  • c) Elbow bent at ~90-100 degrees.

The height will be dictated by the length of one’s torso and the length on the upper arm bone.


7. Mobility

If you need to move short distances around your workstation, getting a chair with a swivel and wheels will make moving around easier.

This is very important in preventing repetitive strain injuries from leaning over and repetitive reaching.


Tip: If the flooring material makes it difficult to wheel your chair around, consider using a plastic chair mat.


8. Seat cushioning

The padding on the seat cover and back rest should be:

  • Thick enough to support sitting for prolonged periods of time.
  • Soft enough to prevent excessive stress placed on your pelvis.
  • Made of a breathable material.

If it doesn’t feel comfortable the minute you sit on it, it definitely won’t be after a few hours.

Conclusion:

  • A good ergonomic chair that is specifically adjusted for you will give you the best chance of maintaining your good posture.
  • Please make sure that the chair that you use on a regular basis addresses all of the above 8 features.
  • Does your computer chair pass the test?
    • (If not – it’s time to look for a new one!)
  • Keep in mind – having an ergonomic chair does NOT automatically guaranty that your posture will be perfect.
    • You will still need to work on your posture!

What to do next:

1. Any questions?… Leave me a comment down below.

2. Come join me on the Facebook page. Let’s keep in touch!

3. Start looking for a new chair!

About

I am a physiotherapist who has personally experienced the pain as a result of bad posture. I would like to offer you some of the solutions that I and my patients have greatly benefited from.

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4 thoughts on “The 8 characteristics of a good ergonomic chair

  1. WOW! What a great post, I am currently in the market for a brand new chair for the office and was wondering if you have any suggestion for a chair in the 200-300 price range. Cheers.
    Finn Mclaren

  2. My husband’s job requires him to be in our home office for a majority of the day and I am looking to find him a new chair to increase his comfort. Thanks for the tips about how to find a good office chair. I agree with what was mentioned about adjustable height. This is a must have feature to support good posture and give comfort. Thanks again.

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