Office Chairs Having Memory Foam Pads Are Best Avoided

Most people are aware of memory foam, and have probably read about it or may even use it in a bed mattress. Over the past few years, some seating manufacturers have begun using it in office chair foams and I don't think this is a good idea.

Why? Well, the basic principle of memory foam is your weight compresses the foam and allows it to mold to the shape of your body so you are cushioned where you need it – nothing wrong with that.

However, it's different with office chairs because we weren't designed to sit for hours on end, so we move around in the chair because our body maybe sends a signal highlighting our back is uncomfortable and needs to change position.

In the meantime, the memory foam has molded to your initial position and then you move, as a result your body weight distribution changes so the foam needs to decompress and recompress to a new position, and that takes time because memory foam has a real slow reaction time as it slowly readjusts to your new posture.

With modern high-quality polyurethane foams not only is the response time far quicker, it also gives excellent, comfortable support as well meaning as you change so does it by reacting rapidly without loss of support. What's more it won't flatten with repeated use always maintaining its original shape.

It’s for this reason I suggest you avoid memory foam in office chairs and stick with high quality polyurethane filled seat pads and backs which are the standard with most quality manufacturers.


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10 Responses to “Office Chairs Having Memory Foam Pads Are Best Avoided”

  1. I’m seeking a new chair and was considering a memory foam model so these comments about not to go down this road are timely, thanks

    I’m looking for a new chair as I’ve used a Credo for many years and the low back support is excellent, trouble is I have never been able to get the neck rest right and consequently get upper back trouble. I’ve also tried the chair without headrest but the upper back support is, in my opinion none too clever. For me, a perfect chair would be the low back support of the Credo but with a backrest which perhaps went higher to offer better upper back support – ala Aeron. Have to say though, that low back wise, Aeron is the absolute worst cahir I’ve ever used. Thanks

  2. Thanks for your comment Chris, the back on a Credo isn’t very high and the problem with the headrest is that it’s designed more for use when reclining and so doesn’t give support when working in a more upright position. You might find HÅG’s H05 or Futu would be better.

  3. Thanks Duncan. I’m going to look at a Futu shortly – when weather in UK picks up as all suppliers are miles away from me. I am also going to check out bodybilt chairs and steelcase chairs, although not sure which Steelcase model would be best. Thanks, enjoyed the site, very informative.

  4. That certainly makes sense. I’ve actually tried the memory foam mattress but find it really restrictive and uncomfortable because I tend to move a lot in my sleep.

    As far as alternatives to chair padding go, what do you think about the Elitra from Lamm? It’s got nylon strips instead of upholstery and padding. The idea is that this supports you dynamically as you shift your body weight. It apparently won the 2009 Good Design Award from the Museum of Architecture and Design in Chicago. I’d be interested in hearing your opinion about how ergonomic that concept might be.

    Daisy McCarty

  5. Hi Daisy

    The Elitra looks a really interesting chair, I guess it’s something you’d have to try out to experience the way it works. I like the seating posture shown in the brochure as it doesn’t have an overly angled lumbar support in the backrest and so looks as though it would give good upper back support, which is something I find lacking on some chairs.

    Have you had a chance to try one out?


  6. Duncan, I’ve got some use left in my current chair (I was dumb and bought another cheap one this time) so I’ll probably start shopping around in the next 6 months. If I get a chance to try the Elitra out I’ll pop back by here to let you know what I think about it. I can usually start feeling the frame under the padding in most office chairs after the first few months of use. If there’s no padding and the seat is straps I’m guessing that wouldn’t be a problem any longer.

    I agree that the lumbar supports in most office chairs aren’t that well designed. I usually purchase a support that fits my back and use that. At least the chair I have now has a short enough seat that I can sit all the way back and take advantage of the upper back support. It does make a difference in maintaining your posture throughout the day if you can lean back and rest when you need to.


  7. I work with a Reception Team that share a 3 computer work station. I have been given a good office chair (possibly memory foam – not sure) as I have recently been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

    The chair is used by other members of the Team and I have found that the inital lovely soft but suportive seat has become harder and not as comfortable. Could this be because it is a shared chair or because it is the nature of Memory Foam? Does the Memory Foam ‘remember’ the other users body shape, weight etc. Do you think I should ask for sole access to a good chair to help my condition? I appreciate your advice. Thank you.

  8. I think it’s probably unlikely that the chair you are using has memory foam as the vast majority of office chairs don’t and normally memory foam returns to its original form . One of the reasons foams can become harder is low quality foam can flatten when it has been used for some months.

    With your medical condition I think you should certainly be asking for a chair for your own use and I would strongly recommend you try out any chair offered for a few days to make sure it is right for you.

  9. I disagree! At a previous job I was lucky to get the office chair left behind by the previous person who had medical issues. It was a Lifeform Memory foam office chair. I have RA and bad hips. This was the most comfortable chair in the world. It was like sitting on a cloud with no pressure on my hips. I had no hip pain at all. I have now changed jobs and my office came with a brand new office chair. In less than two weeks my hip pain has returned. I went and bought a memory foam pillow to sit on.

  10. Thanks for commenting on your experience with memory foam, clearly it’s helped you to be more comfortable in your office chair. I think you’ve made some valid point that I’m sure are relevant for people that suffer with certain medical conditions. I’ll edit this article soon, citing the points you’ve made.

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