Ergonomics of Office Chairs Explained | Setup and Comfort Guide
The average office worker now spends 10 hours a day sitting down with poor posture habits contributing to aches and pains, brain fog and even indigestion. Whether on your daily commute, sat in the office or at home on the sofa; our backs now spend most of their day in awkward and unnatural positions which over time can damage our spinal health.
What causes back pain?
Whilst there are many causes of back pain, sitting in any unnatural position for an extended period will put strain on the ligaments in your back and over time damage your spine. A common reason for lower back pain is compression of the vertebrae in the lumbar region as shown below:
So what can we do about this? Luckily, setting up your office chair correctly can make a huge difference to your spinal and cardiovascular health and in this short how to guide, we will share some expert tips on how to do just that.
How to setup your office chair
Whilst the ergonomics of office chairs vary greatly depending on cost and manufacturer, for the purposes of this guide we have assumed a well specified chair with a range of ergonomic features. You can find out how to adjust each element below.
In this section:
- Office Chair Feature Video (1 minute)
- Seat Height
- Seat Depth
- Back Height
- Lower Back Support
- Recline tension control
The height of the seat should be adjusted until it is level with the bottom of your knee cap. When seated your leg should be at a 90 degree angle with your feet placed flat on the floor. Your knees should be slightly lower than your hips to promote healthy circulation.
*If your feet cannot reach the floor, we recommend using a foot stool or similar
When adjusting the seat depth, always ensure that the small of your back is in full contact with the back of the chair to allow the ergonomic shape to correct your posture. Adjust the seat depth until you can feel your body weight is naturally leaning into the back of the chair, this will prevent slouching and keep you upright and comfortable.
*Ensure there is a gap between the back of your calf and the front of seat edge, if your leg is pressed up against the seat this will prevent blood flow causing pressure and discomfort.
The armrest should support the weight of your arm without your shoulder hunching (which would suggest the arm rest is too high). The arm rest should also be level with your desk height, allowing your forearm to be fully supported whilst typing. Your arms should be bent at 90 - 110 degrees in their rested position.
The back of an ergonomic office chair is designed to support your spine by ensuring it is gently corrected into an upright and natural position. Adjustable back height is highly recommended for taller users who may need to increase the back height to correctly position the lumbar support to the lower back.
Adjust the height of the headrest until the lower half sits in the curve of your neck, between the top of your spine and the base of your skull. The average human head weighs 11 pounds so correctly positioning the head rest will allow some of this weight to be transferred into the chair, preventing compression of the vertebrae further down your back.
Lower Back Support
The lumbar support should push the lower spine forward, correcting your posture and keeping you in an upright and comfortable position. Typically the supporting lumbar pad can be vertically adjusted by around 5cm and some also have depth adjustment.
Weight Tension Control
The tension control knob adjusts the amount of pressure required for your body weight to move the chair back into a recline position. If the tension is too high, you may find the chair back is pushing you forward in the seat and forcing you into a slouched position which is unhealthy for both the lower and upper back. To find the correct setting, we recommend adjusting the tension until you can lean back and recline the chair without it rolling backwards.
We hope you've found this setup guide helpful and as always if you have any comments or suggestions, we would love to hear from you.