If you are looking for an office chair, you will probably find an abundance of options and a wide range of price points. In this article, we outline some key considerations to help with your search!
If you have been experiencing any musculoskeletal, discomfort, remember that a chair can only do so much. Inactivity is one of the most common causes of back pain in the workplace, so make sure you take a postural break for 2-3 minutes every 30-45 minutes. This can be done by standing up and moving or performing at-desk stretches.
So, what features should you look for in a chair?
The backrest should be adjustable in angle (it should tilt forward and backward) and height. Ideally, the backrest should be adjustable independently of the seat pan.
The backrest should provide support to your lower back (lumbar region). To work out whether you have enough support, sit back in your chair, place your hand between your lower back (where your back curves) and the chair. If you have adjusted the backrest and there is still a gap, you need more support. This could be achieved by using a lumbar support cushion, or by using a chair with adjustable lumbar support.
Adjustable lumbar support on the chair is beneficial, particularly if you experience lower back pain. You should be able to adjust the height and/or depth of the lumbar support. The depth adjustment is often accomplished via an inflatable air cell in the lower backrest.
Chairs can also be fitted with heat pads in the backrest to help manage pain.
The backrest on some chairs can be fixed in position; others have a free-float mechanism that provides dynamic support (when you lean back, the backrest moves with you).
The seat of the chair must be height adjustable, with a range from around 380mm to 530mm from the floor. Many chairs can be fitted with taller gas-stems (that adjust up to around 600-800mm), e.g. for those who are taller, or for use at a raised desk, so make sure that the gas stem of the chair is suitable for the desk you are using and for your height.
If you are purchasing a chair for home and you are the sole chair-user, adjustable depth is not necessary. You should ensure that the depth of the seat pan is approximately 40mm shorter than your upper leg length. To measure your upper leg length, measure in a straight line from the back of your buttock to the crease at the back of your knee, when sitting.
If you are purchasing a chair that will be used by multiple people, you may find seat pan depth adjustment necessary.
A seat tilt adjustment is beneficial, as sitting with your hips slightly higher than your knees places less pressure on the lower back and hips. This can be achieved by tilting the seat pan forward or by sitting on a seat wedge if your seat pan does not tilt.
Chairs can also be fitted with coccyx support zones or cut-outs to relieve pressure.
Any office chair should have a five-star-base that provides stability.
The chair should also be able to move easy over the floor. If you have hard flooring (wood, tile, laminate, etc.), ensure you opt for hard floor castors, which have softer wheels that prevent the castors rolling excessively and also protect the floor from scuffs and scratches. If the chair will be used on a carpeted floor, opt for carpet castors.
Armrests are not required on chairs to meet relevant Regulations, but many users find them beneficial for support. The most important feature of arm rests is that they do not obstruct how close you can sit to the desk. Armrests should either be adjustable so they can be lowered below desk height, or removable. You should be able to sit close enough to the desk that you are not stretching or leaning forward to reach anything.
When considering the material of the chair, opt for something more breathable like mesh or fabric, rather than leather.
Take a look at our Ergonomics page, which has a wealth of information on home and hybrid working, including practical guidance on setting up your workstation, eye health, wellbeing, and desk-based stretches.
And if you need any assistance with DSE or ergonomics we are here to help!