One Size Does Not Fit All
Shopping for a new ergonomic chair can quickly become an overwhelming experience as there are hundreds, if not thousands, of chairs to choose from. One thing that is certain, there is no such thing as "the best office chair." There are many excellent chairs on the market but the best ergonomic chair for you to buy is going to be one that:
- Fits your body correctly
- Fits the way you work
- Is comfortable
- Fits your budget
As office chair fit experts, we can help you narrow your choices. Our chair selector questionnaire asks just ten questions. Complete the form and we'll email you back personalized recommendations for great desk chairs.
This article will cover chair fit. Our blog has articles that cover the other points to consider when seeking the best office chair.
A. Chair Fit
In a nutshell, your chair must be a size, or adjustable to a size, that will fit your body comfortably. As people come in sizes, so do chairs. The majority of better quality ergonomic chairs are adjustable to fit most people, in most respects. Some chairs are highly modular and parts can be swapped out to modify an existing chair to fit a different sized person. Cheaper office chairs usually offer limited adjustability and will fit fewer people. Here are the key points to check:
Weight Rating -
The weight rating for a chair is a safety rating and does not necessarily mean a chair will fit someone nearing the maximum rated weight. Thus other size considerations listed below must also be examined. If a person is nearing the maximum weight, it may be wiser to choose a higher rated chair since weight fluctuates for many people.
Seat Height Adjustment -
The correct seat height is one that allows your knees to be level, or slightly lower, than your hips when seated and your feet flat on the floor. Select a chair with a seated height range that allows your ideal seat height to be somewhere inbetween the lowest and highest settings. That way a variety of shoe heights can still be accommodated. Many ergonomic chairs are available with a choice of cylinders, each offering a different adjustment range. Just keep in mind that with taller and shorter users, seat depth must also be correct.
Special circumstances - in some cases, especially with shorter workers, the ideal seated height is not high enough to reach the workstation. Depending on the circumstances, here are some possible fixes:
- Add a height adjustable, articulating keyboard tray that allows the user to bring their keyboard and mouse into their lap. This is generally a good idea anyway as it can greatly reduce pain and stress on the shoulders, arms, and upper back.
- Add a foot rest. Again, this is a great idea for most users anyway because ergonomic foot rests also promote movement which improves circulation and alertness. If the goal here is to lift legs to accommodate a shorter user, pay close attention to the height range of the foot rest to ensure it will be adequate.
- For extreme height issues - Consider the Neutral Posture Nextep, which are steps, in a variety of heights that can add leg support. For taller workstation, Neutral Posture's N'Tune Systems offer complete leg support.
Seat Size -
It seems that standard seat sizes keep getting smaller and smaller. Why does seat size matter?
Lumbar Support -
Most desk chairs offer some lumbar support, either by contouring the back cushion to fit the back, or via an adjustable lumbar. The important consideration here is that the lumbar support needs to hit your back in the right place, where it supports the lumbar curve.
- The lumbar support should be, at a minimum, height adjustable. On many chairs this is done by raising and lowering the back. Some offer height adjustment only on the lumbar support, and some chairs offer both back height and lumbar height adjustments.
- Many of the best ergonomic chairs offer depth or pressure adjustment to.
- The best lumbar supports offer both height and depth adjustment.
|Guidance - If your budget allows for it, get a lumbar support that is both height and depth adjustable.|
Chair Arms -
Not all ergonomists recommend chair arms and for some users, may actually recommend against them. But for most people, arms will help support the shoulders and arms and provide for more comfortable work.
- The correct arm height lets your elbows rest in a natural position and do not cause you to raise your shoulders or hunch down.
- The armpads should be close enough to the body to let your arms rest comfortably at your side. This is one of the hardest areas to fit, especially for thinner bodies as chair seat width can limit how close the arms can be set. A couple of things to consider:
- If you're thin, pay attention to the seat width of any chair you're considering.
- Many offic chairs now offer arms with lateral movement. This means you can slide the armpads inward, over the seat.
- Get arms that offer a pivot, while this won't completely solve the problem of arms that are too far apart, it can allow for forearm support while typing.