Why Do People Rarely Adjust Their Office Chair? How To Lever Up Your Comfort.

What do I need to bother about with adjusting my office chair? Surely once the height is set that's it I can just get on with my work. It's only an office chair and all those levers don't seem to do a fat lot anyway.

Why do people only adjust their chair height?
Many people never get any further than setting the height of their chair. This is understandable because when you think about it apart from reclining loungers most chairs are fixed. Consequently people tend to feel that the only adjustment needed is to set the height of the seat.

Not only that all those confusing levers might mess things up so lots of folk work on the principle if it ain't broke don't fix it. Pity, because you can't do much harm and are probably sacrificing a lot of comfort by avoiding adjusting them.

Why it's not always obvious what the different levers do
A lot of the blame lies fairly and squarely with the manufacturers. They make chairs with 2 or 3 levers under the seat with no indication of what they do. Some do go to the trouble of adding an instructional graphic on the paddle controls and yet these can often be confusing and misleading.

And as for an instruction booklet apart from a few of the better chair makers these are as rare as hen's teeth on most office chairs. Seems crazy when you think how easy it would be to produce an instruction sheet or booklet.

HÅG of Norway gets it. Its chairs usually come with a booklet that can be stored under the seat for reference when needed. So how do you sort out all these controls and why are they important?

Which settings are the most vital to get right?
With levers under chairs each usually controls one or more functions. The one that most people are familiar with is of course the height adjuster. It's very straightforward push it down to lower the seat height. And lifting your body off the seat and pulling the lever up raises the seat.

Sometimes this lever also acts as a seat back control locking or releasing the back. Usually it's a case of pushing it in or out or moving it back or forward.

It's quite common for the seat back lock and release to have its own lever control. This often has preset locked positions, usually upright and maybe 2 or 3 locked reclining positions. Locked positions are best avoided as it's much better to let the back move as you move.

You may find another lever which allows you to vary the angle of the seat to the back. This can be useful to experiment with to get the setting that is most comfortable for you.

One lever you rarely see is for controlling the seat depth. It lets you slide the seat depth in and out to get it set to suit your leg length. Raising the lever lets the seat slide and once you have things how you want pushing it down locks the seat depth.

Another adjuster which is usually a knob controls the amount of tension required to move the chair back as you recline. The knob is normally under the front of seat and it is simply a question of turning it to increase or decrease the amount of body weight you need to apply when reclining.

Let's take a look at which controls are most important.

Which missing settings will cause you the most discomfort?
The single most important control is seat depth adjustment.Regrettably that's very likely not going to be on the majority of office chairs. So if you don't have it you will need do without it until you come to replace your chair.

Tilt tension is pretty important too. There's nothing worse than wrestling to recline in your chair or falling rapidly backwards as you sit back. If you have this adjustment take some time to adjust it for your body weight. It's worth the effort and will significantly improve your working comfort.

As previously mentioned release the seat back if it's locked. The preset angles most chairs come with become pretty uncomfortable after a short while.

As height adjustment is on every office swivel chair we can ignore it for this exercise.

Let's quickly run through the key points we've covered here:

  • Seat height isn't the only adjustment you need to set up
  • Set your chair's back to be floating and not fixed
  • Adjust seat and back angle if your chair allows it
  • Seat depth adjustment is essential for proper leg comfort
  • Tilt tension should be set to allow you to recline comfortably

You can find a quick summary of ergonomic office chairs here which include the vital controls needed for proper working comfort.

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