You would probably agree that finding the best office chairs is a really…hm…tricky business!
There is SO MANY things to consider…anything from color and material all the way to any pains/aches you might have, as well as, of course, your budget.
Most likely your budget is the most constraining factor, so we decided to help you with that right away.
Big and Tall Users
If you are taller than 6′ 4″ and weight more than 250 pounds, then you should be looking for special office chairs called “Big and Tall” chairs.
These are sometimes called “big man chairs” and they are the only chairs that can accommodate your frame and weight.
Most of these chairs are high-back and have metal frames to carry more weight.
If you will be sitting for long periods of time on your chair, then you should put this into consideration when choosing.
We will actually suggest you go for a higher weight capacity chair to make up for the length of time you will be sitting on it daily.
Additionally, go for chairs with heavy padding so you can continue to enjoy comfortable sitting for long.
Generally speaking, these big and tall chairs are built like a tank.
The more sturdily built they are, the better.
Short users just like big and tall users need to have chairs that fit their size so they can also enjoy the benefits of using good office chairs – you can find the best office chairs for short people we selected here.
People who are under 5 feet 4 inches fall into this category.
Though most manufacturers make standard chairs that are meant for user of average heights, there are office chairs that are good for short users.
Most of these are mid-back chairs which the user can adjust to their size and height.
A good example of a chair suitable for short users is the high-end Aeron size A by Herman Miller which is suitable for users between 4 feet 10 inches and 5 feet 9 inches.
Another chair from the list to consider is the mid-priced Nucleus Mid Back Work Chair by HON.
You can take some time to look through chair specs with your optimal height to find more options to choose from.
As a simple tip to have at hand, if you find or have a chair that suits you in every way aside from height as a short user, you can balance out the height discrepancy by using a footstool to raise the floor where your feet will rest.
Users with Backache
Backaches are one of the major things that ergonomic chairs try to stop.
In fact, it is preferable for you to go for a chair with adjustable lumbar support so you can adjust it to fit your lower back perfectly.
After you have gotten the right chair, you also need some habit adjustments to help with the backache.
See our section on healthy habits to get more information.
A lot of factors could combine to result in neck pain.
We will look at the other factors much later in this article…
For now, we will just focus on the chair.
Every time you lean back or recline, if your chair has no headrest, you will be forced to support your head and neck by holding it forward.
A headrest will allow you transfer the weight of your head to the headrest, thereby resting the neck muscles.
Read up on our healthy habit tips for a holistic approach to dealing with office/chair induced neck pain.
Office Chair Buying Guide
If there was a time when carefully choosing an office chair was most important, it is in the age that we now live in.
Our office chairs have taken on a more important role than mere chairs to becoming almost an extension of us.
This is why we will through this guide both help you choose the right office chair and also help you get the most of the chair you choose.
Knowing the right office chair to get can be both confusing and stressful considering all the factors you need to consider starting from cost to suitability.
We will take each issue up with a view to helping you decide on what will work best for you.
Our reviews will also offer you a quick pick for a wide range of seating needs.
Types of Office Chairs
It is very important to begin at the very top which will be looking at the different types of office chairs we have.
There different types of office chairs that are ideal for different uses.
These usually are chairs we find in most conference rooms.
Depending on the office, the chairs here could be basic chairs which have little or no adjustability.
This may differ from office to office.
Offices that use their conference rooms for extended meetings may invest in more high quality chairs while those that do not use their conference rooms for extended meeting will likely not get very high ends chairs since they won’t be used for long periods at a time.
On the average though, these kind of chairs mid-back without too much features.
#2: Guest Chairs
Guest chairs are found in waiting rooms and receptions.
They usually do not have much features because guests are not expected to be seated for long.
In many offices, you will find linked chairs rather single chairs used in this capacity.
They are just comfortable for short sitting periods.
#3: Stacking Chairs
Office cafeterias and locations where they have a large number of people is usually you will find these kinds of chairs.
They are great for quick events where they are set and then packed up after the event.
The fact that they can be stacked make them easy to store after use.
#4: Task Chairs
Known also as a computer chair because most people use it with a computer desk, the task chair is easily the most common of office chairs.
This is what most workers in the office will be using.
These (depending on the brand and type) have more features and adjustment options.
Most workers who have to sit for hours at a time use task chairs.
The kind and quality of task chair each worker uses will be determined by other factors.
#5: Executive Chairs
Sometimes called Manager’s Chair, the executive chair is built to be impressive.
It usually has many adjustment options and will most often have a high-back design that is well padded and finished in leather.
These are not as much types of chairs as they are designs of chairs.
In fact, many task chairs aim to be ergonomic in design.
Ergonomic chairs are chairs that primarily offer the user good comfort and support.
With ergonomic chairs, the sitter is forced to sit with the right posture thereby avoiding the aches and pains that come from wrong sitting posture.
This means that a task chair, executive chair, conference chair etc. can be ergonomic in design.
#7: Active Chairs
It is important to add this type of chairs to the list since come office now use and encourage their use.
These are called active chairs because they help the user stay active while seated.
The other chairs we’ve listed above are called passive chairs because they simply offer comfort and support.
These however keep the body active by engaging different muscles in the body as they try to balance the user.
Examples of this type of chairs include: balance ball chairs, wobble chairs, swopper stool, leaning seat, buoy chairs, core chairs and the kneeling posture.
#8: Gaming Chairs
Just like any other type of chairs, gaming chairs deserve their own category.
There is a big choice of those on the market and we have looked at the best gaming chairs for Xbox one.
Consideration Factors When Choosing an Office Chair
When it is time to choose an office chair, there are certain things you need to consider so as to be sure you will get the best office chair for your needs.
Some of these include:
This should be the very first thing you take note of before you begin to search for an office chair.
If you do not know your size, you won’t know what size range of office chairs to go for.
If you don’t get an office chair of the right size, you will not be able to enjoy any of the benefits the chair may have.
#2: How Long You Sit
If you spend many hours on your chair then you require a chair that has what it takes to keep you comfortable and well supported for extended periods of sitting so you don’t develop back and neck pains.
This is a very important factor to consider.
Office chairs can cost from less than $100 to over $1000.
Determining your budget and range will help you focus your search to chairs within that range.
#4: Your Desk
If you will be using a desk, you need to know the measurement and design of your desk.
Depending on the kind and measurement of desk you have, you may or may not be able to get an office with armrests.
Taking the measurement of your desk will help you make an informed decision.
You may decide to get a chair that will work best with your desk or you may decide to make some adjustments on your desk to make it compatible with your chosen office chair.
How Important Is The Chair Brand?
This is just something we want to touch on briefly as we try to help you find that perfect chair for you.
Should you go all out looking for particular brands or should you rather focus on finding the best office chair regardless of brand?
There are two ways to look at this.
How much time and how much funds do you have for your chair?
If however you do not have the luxury of a big budget then you will need to create the time to look for the best chair for you regardless of brand.
This is the only way you will be able to find a good chair within your budget.
Does this answer the question asked?
Well, the brand of the chair is as important as you want to make it.
Not to take anything away from top brands, they have built their brand-name by consistently providing top quality chairs.
Like we stated earlier, if you do not have the time and you have a huge budget then you can go for the known brands.
There are brands that many have come to rely on for quality chairs.
Brands like Herman Miller have been around for decades and have been consistent with their delivery of quality.
One of their most popular chairs the Aeron is the result of years of research and contributions from over 20 professionals.
With chairs like these, you are less likely to go wrong.
Another brand like Steelcase spent time in research, studying about 2,000 people across about six continents and the way technology had affected their posture.
From this, they discovered some new postures that older chairs were not addressing.
They then went ahead to build chairs that addressed the new technology induced postures.
With these brands, they had to research and develop technology to make their chairs what they are.
If you want these, then make the chair’s brand a major issue of consideration.
If however you want more affordable options, disregard brand and look at each chair on its own merit.
Choosing the Best Office Chair
Earlier in this article we looked at some key things to consider when you are about to choose an office chair.
We looked at size, how long you sit, budget and your desk.
Now we are going to be looking at factors to consider from as it concerns the chair itself.
This will include the chair’s features.
Features to look out for as you search for your office chair include:
#1: Seat Height Adjustability
This is something almost every office has.
Most use pneumatic seat adjustment which is the easiest way to adjust your chair to your optimal height.
#2: Seat Depth and Width Adjustability
Adjustability gives you the ability to customize the chair to fit your size.
Chairs with adjustable seat depth usually achieve this by having a backrest that can be adjusted in and out.
You adjust it in to achieve a more shallow depth and out to achieve more depth.
For the seat width, this is usually achieved with an armrest that adjusts in and out, with in creating a smaller width and out giving a wider width.
#3: Seat and Backrest Material
The seat and backrest of a chair can be made from different materials ranging from leather to synthetic to fabric and more.
Many users today prefer breathable materials as it allows a freer flow of air around the contact points between the body and the chair.
This keeps the body cool, preventing sweating.
If you are prone to sweating or will be using the chair in a hot region, then you may take this a bit more seriously.
#4: Adjustable Lumbar Support
The lumbar support is the curved part of the backrest that supports the natural S shape of the spine.
Ability to move the backrest up or down to fit your lumbar region perfectly is a plus you should look for.
Many chairs do not have headrests.
Some have options for headrests while some have headrests by default.
Headrests provide support for the head especially when you recline.
This is especially necessary for taller users and it helps if the headrest is also adjustable.
If you are getting an office chair without headrests, it should be a deliberate choice.
It is however better to have it and not really need it than to need it and not have it.
Are armrests necessary?
They are for some more than others.
Gamers and people who spend a lot of time typing on their computers need armrests as this helps provide support for them arms.
Given our different sizes and statures, it helps to get armrests that are adjustable.
The more adjustable they are, the better.
#7: Seat, Back and Armrest Padding
To be able to sit comfortably for long, you need a chair with comfortable padding.
The key areas where adequate padding is necessary is on the seat, backrest and armrest.
The seat especially needs to have the best possible padding as that is the point of greatest pressure.
The back just needs minima padding for comfort while the armrests need enough padding to keep the arms comfortable on them.
Without adequate padding on the armrests, the arms could get sore from resting on the hard surface.
This is one that many may not readily know the importance of.
It is a very important function which helps you move around your workstation without moving from your waste (more on this when we look at healthy work habits).
With this function, you can easily turn your chair to do something within a 360 degree radius without stress.
After working for some time you may just want to kick back and relax.
You even just want to relax to read through a document or look through some data or information on your mobile device.
The tilt function allows you do this.
Different chairs allow different degrees of tilt which you should be away of before making your choice.
#10: Tilt Tension Control
Tilt tension control allows you adjust how easy or difficult it will be for you to recline.
The tighter the control, the more force you will need to recline and vice versa.
#11: Tilt Position Lock
This feature allows you lock your chair in a particular recline position.
If a chair does not have this feature but reclines, you will need to apply consistent force to stay reclined at that position.
Once you release the force, the chair will return to an upright position.
However, with the tilt position lock feature, you can lock-in the tilt at a preferred angle and the chair will remain at that position until you release it.
#12: Carpet Casters
It is sometimes necessary to quickly scoot over to do something a short distance from you.
Having a chair with these rollers will help you do this with ease.
In the above we addressed features to look out for when choosing a chair.
We will now look at factors in a chair that we need to take note of when choosing one.
Seat Height Range
The height range of the chair you choose will determine if you will be able to adjust it to your optimum height.
Know your optimum height and ensure it is within the range stipulated for the chair.
We will show you how to measure for your optimal height.
Seat Width and Depth Range
This is only applicable to chairs with adjustable width and range.
Just as with height above, ensure that your optimal seat depth falls within the range stipulated for the chair.
This is something that cannot be over emphasized especially for bigger users.
Be sure that the chair can support your weight very comfortably before getting it.
Measuring for Your Office Chair
Knowing your optimal seat height and depth are key to identifying the chair with right height and depth range.
We will now show you how to measure yourself to know your optimal height.
To do this well, you will need the following things:
- A flat chair without padding or pneumatic adjustment. A dining chair with a hard seat will do.
- Hard books or wooden blocks
- An assistant to help with some of the measurements
- A tape rule
With these you are set to begin.
First, sit on your flat chair and before measuring, ensure that your feet are placed flat on the floor and your back is held straight with your face looking forward.
Your thighs should be horizontal, forming a right angle with your knees.
If your chair is too low, you will notice that your knees will be pointing slightly upward.
If this is the case, you will need to use your books or wooden blocks to raise the legs of the chair until your knees form a right angle as earlier described.
When you sit on the chair and notice that your feet cannot flat without you sitting very far forward and your knees pointing slightly downward, then you will need to raise the your feet by providing a foot rest that will raise it to the point where your feet are flat and your thighs form a right angle with your knees.
Once this is achieved, you can begin to take your measurements.
Measurement #1: Calf to Back
The first measurement to take (your assistant has to help you do this) is from your calf to your back.
Since your back does not extend as low as to your calf, you will need to draw an imaginary straight line from your back to the same level as your calf or take a reference point from one of the chair legs.
When you have gotten the measurement, subtract about 2 – 3 inches from it to get your optimal seat depth.
The 2 – 3 inches you subtract is to make room for the back of your legs so it does not press against the edge of the seat, cutting off supply.
Measurement #2: Check for Seat Height
The next measurement to take is for the optimal seat height.
You’ve already done all you need to do.
Just step down from the chair and take the measurement from the top of the chair to the floor or wherever your feet were resting when you were seated.
This measurement will give you your estimated optimal height.
Important: It is an estimate because you need to take into consideration the reduction in height that will take place the padding on the chair compresses and when the pneumatic gas height adjustment slightly goes down.
Why Do You Need The Best Office Chair Possible?
This is one question that many people are likely to ask especially when they come across office chairs that cost over $1000.
They wonder if it really is worth it.
We will try to explain to you why you need to get the best office chair you can.
Did you know that more and more research are emerging, all pointing to the health hazard that sitting causes?
Still don’t get it?
Let’s explain some more.
What is the implication of this?
Let us look to other medical studies for answers.
Did we hear you shout: WHAT!?
A lot of studies have shown how sitting can be harmful to the body.
How then can expensive or top quality chairs help?
Thank you for asking that question as it will lead us directly into the core of the matter.
Now, a good quality office chair will help you with the first part, while the tips we will give you later in this article will help you with the second part.
Bad sitting posture is what ergonomic office chairs are out to correct.
Of course there is also the issue of comfortable sitting which is also important.
A good quality office chair will provide you with adequate lumbar support so that your spine can retain its natural S shape.
When this is achieved, you will be able to sit for long periods without aches.
When however this is not achieved, the spine is bent out of its natural shape and the aches we feel is only nature’s way of telling us something is wrong.
Sitting without proper support can make you sit slumped, your spine in a rounded rather than S shape.
This could lead to a condition known as postural kyphosis.
You could argue that you can train yourself to sit erect, with your back ramrod stiff.
Well, that will be a fit especially when you have to sit for hours.
However, you will end up doing more harm than good to your body and this is why.
If you do this consistently, you could end up with swayback or Lordosis (as it is medically known) which is a condition where the inward curve of the spine is exaggerated at the lower back.
When you sit on an office chair with good support, you sit with correct posture without making too much effort.
The shape and design of the chair smoothly helps you maintain the right posture.
Some ergonomic chairs actually work with your body while you are seated to improve blood circulation, thereby increasing you focus as fresh oxygen gets to your brain faster.
You need a good quality office chair to help you sit comfortably for long periods and also provide you with adequate support so as to avoid backaches, neck aches and the spinal medical conditions described above.
We have said a whole lot about the importance of the office chair and all it can help us achieve.
If we simply left it at that, then we will only have given you have solutions.
Getting the best office chair possible it great and encouraged but that alone cannot give you the complete well-being you want.
If you work in an office and sit on an office chair, you likely have a desk in front of you.
You sit on your wonderful chair and work on this desk.
It is only natural that the desk will also have an impact on the final outcome.
Your entire workstation setup is critical.
In fact, your chair is just one important part of the set up.
Your desk and your chair have to work seamlessly to provide you a functional and efficient workstation.
We mentioned earlier that it is important to measure the height of your desk to know if your chair will work well with it.
You actually need a desk on which you can place your hands on the top or whichever surface your mouse and keyboard are (while seated with your feel flat on the floor and your thighs at 90 degrees with your knees) such that your fore-arm and elbows form a 90 degree angle.
This position will help you work without having to raise your shoulders to work on a higher surface or hunch over to work on a lower surface.
If your desk is too low, you can raise it and if it is your chair that is too low, you can also raise it.
The important thing is making whatever adjustment needs to be made to achieve fluidity
Another thing to try to ensure is the space between your thighs and the top of the table.
Your table needs to be high enough to have a clearance of about 2 inches above your knees so you can move in close to your workstation.
Still on the issue of workplace ergonomics, the arrangement of your workstation should be very functional and efficient.
Keep everything you use frequently within easy arms reach.
You do not want to be stretching and twisting to reach any items you use often.
You should also ensure that your keyboard and mouse are kept on the same level.
Learn to use document holders as much as you can.
You want to reduce strain on your neck by reducing the amount of time you spend looking at documents and any other thing for that matter at an angle.
Your computer monitor should be placed directly in front of you with the top of the screen at about your eye level.
You want to look straight at the screen as you work without looking up or down at it.
It also helps to slightly angle your monitor screen upward.
What this will do is that because of the perspective it will achieve, you will not need to move your head up or down regardless of the part of the screen you are reading from.
If you can help it, go for bigger screened monitors.
The bigger the better and ensure the screen is not too close to you.
It should not be less than an arm’s length from you.
If what you work with it is a laptop, try to get a docking station so you can arrange your set as described above.
There are other issues that are also very important to achieve holistic workplace ergonomics.
You can get headaches from looking at your screen especially in an environment with bad lighting.
When setting up your workstation, ensure that you do not have glare on your monitor screen.
You can avoid this by ensuring no window is behind you. Let any open windows be beside you with your monitor screen facing you directly.
If you cannot make this arrangement and must have a window behind you, cover the window with a blind or get anti-glare protection for your monitor screen.
Other Factors That Can Affect You on Your Chair
We are beginning to look more closely into other things aside from your chair itself that can affect your effective enjoyment of the benefits of your chair.
We’ve already looked at the workstation and some adjustments that need to be made.
We will now proceed to look at more factors.
This is one very important aspect.
But you said a good quality ergonomic chair will help you maintain proper posture!
Yes we did say that and we stand on what we said earlier.
We are however adding that as human beings that we are, we have some part to play to main proper posture.
We’ve already addressed the primary posture issue which is the proper way to sit on your chair.
Sit with both feet on the floor with your thighs at right angles with your knees.
If your feet cannot rest flat on the floor, use a footrest.
Now, we will give you some more tips to help with your posture.
- Sit with your chin in and your ears in line with your shoulders.
- Always use your chairs lumbar support.
- Keep your forearms along your body when you sit.
- If you have armrests, use them as often as you can.
- Do not be rigid with your sitting. Change sitting positions from time to time. You can recline after sitting upright for a while.
When you get your office chair, it is very important that you spend some time adjusting it to suit your perfectly.
Start with the height and seat depth as discussed earlier.
Ensure that when you are properly seated in your chair, there is at least a 2 inch gap between your calf and the edge of the chair.
Adjust the lumbar support of the chair (if it is adjustable) to fit your lower back as well as possible.
Do same for your armrests.
Raise or lower them to the perfect height where your forearms can rest on them as right angles.
Adjust the headrest (if it has one) so that your head can be properly supported especially when you recline.
Try out all the adjustment options available and get the very best out of your office chair.
There are healthy habits any office worker should form to help them stay productive and healthy.
We shall list these healthy habits here so that working with them; you will enjoy your quality office chair even better.
- One of the most important healthy habits to form is taking frequent breaks. The breaks do not have to be long. Every hour at the most, stand from your chair and go drink water or just stretch or walk around for a few minutes before returning to your desk. You are refreshed, your muscles relax and you can get back to work with renewed vigor.
- Do not sit at the edge of your seat. Always remember to use your chair’s lumbar support. Besides when you sit forward, you jut out your chin and your spine is most likely going to take a round shape instead of its natural S shape.
- Do not place your arms, elbows or wrists on hard edges. Use your armrests.
- While sitting on your chair, if it has a swivel function use it rather than turning from your waist when you want to turn around to do something.
- When you want to stand from your chair, do not stand from your deep seated position. Doing this, you will be standing from your waist. Move to the edge of the chair and stand by straightening your legs.
- Whenever you want to lift something, do not lift from your waist. Bend your knees and lift the load. This protects your waist from getting hurt.
- Do not talk with the phone jammed between your neck and your head. If you already have formed this habit, break it. While talking on the phone, hold the phone properly and use that opportunity to stand and pace around, loosening your muscles in the process.
- As you work, listen to your body and what it is telling you. According to Jim McGlothlin, MPH PhD, CPE. Professor Emeritus and faculty Scholar Purdue University “Mindfulness is important when performing office work – listen to your body and stretch upper and lower body in the morning, midday and before going home.”
Concluding with the words of our dear Professor, we will proceed to show some simple exercises that you can do right there in your office to improve your health and well-being.
Simple Office Exercises for Increased Well-being
- Tilt your head slowly to your left shoulder. Hold this position for about 10 seconds and then repeat the process with your right shoulder.
- Roll your shoulders forward in a circular motion 10 times. Reverse the direction of the motion and do it 10 times.
- Stretch your two arms out before you. Pull down the fingers of the right hand with the left hand and hold for about 3 seconds. Next, instead of pulling the fingers down, pull them up and hold for about 3 seconds. Repeat the process but now have the right hand hold and pull the fingers of the left hand.
- While sitting on your desk, plant both feet firmly on the floor, sit upright and tighten your abdominal muscles. Next, stretch out your leg straight out until it is level with your hip. Hold this position for about 10 seconds and then slowly lower your leg. Repeat for second leg.
- Cross your legs and stretch them out. Press down on the lower leg with the leg on top while resisting with the lower leg. Do this for as long as you can hold it then switch legs.