The best office chair is largely based on personal preference, but there are several ergonomic features you may want to look for when making your selection. This quick guide will get you started.
Office chair features to look for
Typically a comfortable, supportive office chair is designed with several ergonomic qualities, such as:
Lumbar support. Your lumbar spine (lower back) naturally curves inward. Without lower back support it’s easy to round your back and flatten this curve when you sit for a prolonged period of time, which can strain the lumbar spine. An ergonomic chair should offer adjustable lumbar support. For some chairs with mesh backrests, adjustable lumbar support looks like a piece of reinforced plastic that is built onto the backrest and can be raised up or down. For padded chairs, you should be able to adjust the height of the backrest, which is designed with a supportive curve.
Adjustable armrests. Armrests can help to support your elbows and take some weight off your shoulders, reducing neck and shoulder strain. Your elbows should rest lightly on the armrests and bend at about a 90-degree angle when using a keyboard and mouse. Look for armrests that have adjustable heights and can slide inward, so you can keep your arms close to your body.
Adjustable height. An office chair that encourages correct posture should allow you to scoot all the way to the back of the seat with your feet flat on the floor, thighs horizontal and arms even with the height of the desk. It is thought that a seat height ranging from 16 to 21 inches off the ground is suitable for most people. An office chair that comes with a pneumatic adjustment lever can help you find the right height.
High backrest and headrest. Look for an office chair that has a backrest that supports the natural curve of your spine. A backrest high enough for your upper back to stay flush against can help to keep you from hunching your shoulders. A headrest can also encourage you to keep your head back rather than drooping your neck forward, a position that load dozens of extra pounds of pressure on your cervical spine.
Deep seat. The seat should be deep enough so that you can sit with your back against the backrest while leaving 2 to 4 inches between the back of the knees and the seat of the chair. For extra customization, keep an eye out for office chairs that allow you to adjust the forward or backward tilt of the seat.
Test out a variety of office chairs before you make a purchase, and see which one offers you the most comfort and support. You may even find that you prefer an office chair solution with an alternative design.