What Makes a Desk Chair Ergonomic

Office Chairs are one of the most important furniture items to consider when looking at refurbishing your office. The average office worker spends between 6-8 hours a day sitting on their chair. Using the wrong chair can result in a bad back, poor posture and low morale, not to mention a loss of working hours, productivity and untapped potential. The right chair has the power to transform the way we feel, act and perform at work, as well as improving comfort and reducing postural problems. In this article you will find some of the key points to consider when choosing a new chair.

Ergonomic Office Chairs are classified as such when they have an adjustable seat height, seat depth and lumbar support. This means that you should be able to adjust the height of the chair so that your legs are perpendicular to the floor, and the seat pan should allow you to adjust it so that you are able to sit comfortably. Proper lumbar support allows there to be ample support for the lower back so that your spine is in just the right position to allow for good posture.

You will typically see five to nine adjustable components on most ergonomic chairs.

Ergonomic chair adjustment options

Gas Lift
Height Adjustable Back and Arms
Adjustable Lumbar Support
Adjustable Headrest
Seat Depth Adjustment
PCB or Synchro Mechanism
Seat and Back Tilt Mechanism
Adjustable Tension Control

A chair with labels for all the adjustable ergomonic parts.

Chair Height Adjustment: Gas Lift

 

Gas Lift for an ergonomic chair

A gas lift chair allows the user to modify their height in relation to the height of a desk, leading to an increase in comfort and ergonomic benefit. This is a common feature in most office chairs. People are different heights: in order for you to have a good posture, it is important that you have your feet flat on the floor with your body in a comfortable position.

This type of system allows the vertical height of the armrests to be adjusted, supporting the weight of your arms and removing the muscle work for shoulders and upper arms. Armrests can be of particular benefit for support when using the keyboard and mouse. However, if they are not adjusted properly, they can cause problems; for example, when armrests hit the edges of tables, causing users to key/mouse with a straight arm, or to perch on the front of the chair receiving no back support. If you are resting your elbows or forearms on the armrests while you are typing and working, then you need to adjust your chair.

Height Adjustable Back and Arms

Adjustable Arms on the office chair

This changes the angle of the backrest relative to the seat. Reclining the backrest whilst not working (keying or writing) allows the backrest to take some of the weight of your upper body. This in turn reduces the pressure on discs and muscles. Armrests help ensure that you are able to achieve the perfect position to prevent injuries and allow you to work comfortably for hours at a time.

Adjustable Lumbar Support

 

Ergonomic adjustable lumbar support

The main purpose of any lumbar support in an office chair is to help support your back and maintain the natural curvature of your spine as you sit. Over time, a chair without lumber support can cause pain and discomfort, and in some cases can lead to injuries to the back muscles, nerves, vertebrae or discs. When placed correctly, a lumbar back support should allow for the ears, shoulders and pelvis (hips) to be kept in alignment, whilst at the same time maintaining the natural inward curvature of the lower back.

Adjustable Headrest

Ergonomic adjustable head rest

Office chairs with a headrest help to reduce pain associated with working long hours. They particularly help to protect you from neck, shoulder and back pain, which are some of the most common problems associated with using an office chair for a long period of time.

Seat Depth Adjustment

This mechanism moves the seat forward and backwards. When seated you need to be fully supported by the backrest. If you are short in the thigh, you will need to reduce the seat depth so that you can reach the backrest, in order to reduce the pressure on the back of your thighs. Shorter people often perch on the front of the seat, getting no support from the backrest, compromising their natural posture and causing their muscles to overwork. If you are long in the thigh, seat depth adjustment will allow you to support your thighs correctly. Seat Depth Adjustment is especially useful if you have a chair that is used by different people.

PCB or Synchro Mechanism

PCB (Permanent Contact Back) essentially means that the back of the chair tilts back while the seat remains in the same position. A synchro mechanism means that when the back tilts the seat also tilts, at a ratio of 2:1. This means that the angle between the lower and upper part of your body is at or greater than 90 degrees, promoting a more ergonomic sitting position.

Seat and Back Tilt Mechanism

Seat and back tilt mechanism

Tilt lock allows the user to sit in an upright position for keyboarding, while providing a comfortable rocking/reclining motion during meetings, phone calls and reading activities.

Adjustable Tension Control

With Adjustable Tensions Control the tilt tension adjustment balances your weight so the chair can be tilted with ease. The ideal tilt tension lets you lean back in your chair with minimum effort, but with enough resistance to provide back support at any position throughout the tilt range.

Questions to Consider Before Buying an Office Chair

  • How exactly will you be using the chair?
  • Will more than one person be using the chair? If so, you should consider the above points and choose a chair that is highly adjustable.
  • How long you will be using the chair? Many chairs are not designed for 8 hours use, you need to fact this into account when purchasing an office chair.
  • Have you taken the correct measurements of the desk height and width?
  • Have you checked that the chair you want to purchase has the correct height and width?

Ergonomic Chairs at BT Office Furniture

If you are looking for a specific type of chair we have plenty ergonomic options to choose from, our team of knowledgeable advisors are on hand to help you make the right decision on which chair is best for you, based on your own requirements.

Check our Buying Guide of Ergonomic Office Chairs.