How To Adjust And Set Up An Office Chair: Simple Five Step Cheat Sheet.

Looking at posts in forums or on Twitter and FaceBook it’s amazing how often I see comments like
“I've had this office chair for 3 years and just found how to adjust the back height.”
So in case you're not sure of all the functions on your chair here's a simple set of 5 steps on how to set it up to suit your needs.

Adjusting An Office Chair: 5 Step Cheat Sheet

Step 1 – Adjust The Seat Height
Begin by raising the seat to its full height and then gradually lower it until your feet are firmly on the floor with your legs angled slightly forwards. This is usually controlled by a lever on the right underside of the chair, or occasionally by a button.

Step 2 – Adjust The Seat Depth
Where fitted, adjust the seat depth by sliding the seat in or out to suit your leg length. Aim to have a gap of about 2 inches between the back of your knee joint and the seat edge. Unfortunately this very important feature is missing from the majority of office seats, this article explains why seat depth matters.

Step3 – Adjust The Back Height And Or Lumbar Support
Raise or lower the chair back so that it gives you good overall support, especially the bottom part of your back. If you have an adjustable lumbar support, use this to fine tune support for your lower back. On some better quality chairs which have full height backs they may be fixed, however there is normally a lumbar support to enable individual comfort.

Step 4 – Adjust the arm height and angle
Adjust the height of the arms so that your shoulder muscles are relaxed and your lower arms are at right angles to your body. Some arms also allow you to alter the angle of the pads and this is worth adjusting to give good support for the task you are performing.

Step 5 – Adjust The Tilt Tension
Where fitted adjust the tilt tension control until you can recline in your chair and the back gives natural support being neither too stiff or too easy to move when leaning back in the chair. Often times though chairs lack this function which can make reclining really awkward.

Here's a link to download my simple cheat sheet explaining the process which you can then print out if it helps. In a future post I'll be taking a look at how to address your work space properly so you don't find you are stretching or twisting unnecessarily.


You Only Get One Back: Is Your Office Chair Ruining It?

Have you ever observed a young baby as soon as it has learnt to sit up? If you have you may well have been struck by the beautiful posture of the child's back.

The spine is straight and shoulders sit naturally by it's side. Not only that, the side movement of the head is huge compared to the average adult. Babies can easily turn their heads well over 90 degrees to the left or right.

Sadly, in a few short years it all starts to go downhill. Sitting in lousy seating at school and then hours in front of a TV or computer soon starts to take its toll.

So, even by the time you start work, it's likely you will have lost a fair amount of the natural back movement you had as a young child. This makes it important that you pick a good office seat if you spend most of the working day sitting in one.

Let's look at how the wrong chair only makes things worse.

How a bad office chair damages your back
To keep your back healthy you need to avoid office chairs with poor back supports. Chairs with low fixed backs aren't a good idea as they leave large areas of your back unsupported.

Chairs that have no lumbar support should be avoided too. The most important area of you back to support is the lower back or lumbar region. Unshaped chair backs are unlikely to give you the support you need. And backs with exaggerated shapes can be just as bad and should be avoided to.

If you prefer a mesh back chair make sure it doesn't have a poorly designed hard plastic frame because it can dig into your back.

So, what should you look for to get proper back support?

What should you chair back include?
The most important feature of any office chair back is that it provides you with good support for your lower back. Ideally it should be able to be adjusted to nest comfortably into the small of your back.

On a chair with a small or medium height back it should be height adjustable with some light shaping allowing it to rest comfortably into your lumbar region.

Alternatively, it may include a separate lumbar support which can be positioned to suit your needs. This is quite popular on chairs with high backs which may well be fixed. Often they have an adjustable lumbar support to fine tune things.

With mesh backs it's best to avoid really cheap chairs as the mesh won't support your back. Better quality chairs use mesh designed to give good support and these sometimes use two or three ply mesh specifically made for the purpose.

And even when you have a chair with good back support you can always do more.

How else can you look after your back?
Sitting for hours on end is not a good idea even in the best of chairs. Our body craves movement and when it doesn't get it it starts to ache. This is nature's way of saying it's time to move.

Getting up out of your chair every 30 minutes or so is a good idea. Take a quick break and make yourself a cup of coffee or tea. Also, do some quick stretches to keep your body supple. This doesn't mean you have to start doing some strenuous exercise routine. Just a few simple stretches is all that is needed to keep things moving healthily.

The older you get the more important this becomes. Unfortunately you will never get back all the healthy posture you had as a baby. Nonetheless it's vital that we maintain our backs by giving them the best support and help we can.

A good chair combined with some basic stretches will go a long way to looking after your back.

Further information
Selecting the right chair back is important, however there are other features that matter too. This short video explains what a good ergonomic office chair should include.


Anatomy Of An Office Chair Part 4: The Chair Back

In this final part of our look at the key elements of an office chair it's time for the chair back to take center stage.

Chair backs come in many different formats, the commonest is the foam padded back usually upholstered in the same fabric as the seat.

Typically backs are offered in low, medium or high versions. If you going for a low or medium size back then you want to make sure it's height adjustable so it can give you proper support.

The most important thing is to ensure your lower back gets good support. Although some high backs are also height adjustable it's less important, provided it offers good lumbar support.

Let's look at how backs adjust.

How adjustable height chair backs work
Chair backs adjust in a number of different ways. A popular method is the ratchet back which is very simple to set up. Built into the back support is a ratchet mechanism. To move it up you would normally grip the back on each side at its base and push it up gently. As you do so you will find the back clicks a little higher to a number of preset positions. So once you find the one that works for you that's it.

And in case you need to start out again if you lift the back up to its maximum height it usually drops back down to the lowest position so you can start over if necessary.

Sometimes there may be a couple of buttons to press in while you adjust the back. As soon as you reach the desired height just release them to lock in your preferred height.
Some chairs use a locking knob. You would undo it to let you move the back and then tighten it again to save the height setting.

So much for adjustable backs what if it's fixed?

Is it OK to use a fixed height back?
In the right situation a fixed back is fine. It needs to be a full height back so it covers up to your shoulders or beyond. Ideally it should include some sort of lumbar support which needs to be adjustable. That way you can fine tune it for your lower back.

Some chairs have exposed lumbar supports while yet others are built into the chair back itself.

Some of the more sophisticated chairs these days like Humanscale's Liberty and Diffrient World chairs have a 3 ply mesh specifically designed to give your back support where it's most needed.

Others like Herman Miller's Sayl chair uses a cleverly designed open plastic material. This is reinforced in the areas where most support is needed making sure you gain proper comfort.

In the case of Steelcase's Think chair it has an open weave fabric behind which are a series of lateral wire supports designed to take up the shape of the user's back.

All of these innovative back designs have the added advantage of providing excellent air circulation, which is a great help for sweaty backs in summer.

Here are the key points we covered

  • Low and medium height backs should be height adjustable
  • Backs usually adjust via ratchets, buttons or locking knobs
  • The most important thing is to get good lumbar support
  • It's OK for backs to be fixed provided they are designed to support you properly
  • Some modern chairs use specialist mesh or plastics to support you correctly

This concludes our look at the various parts of an office chair here's where you can find further information on some great chairs with all the features you need.


Anatomy Of An Office Chair: The 5 Key Components

All office swivel chairs are made up from 5 key components:

  • Base
  • Pneumatic lift
  • Seat
  • Back
  • Arms

Most of these parts are critical to your working comfort. Over the next few weeks we're going to take a deeper look at them as we delve into what matters. We will cover the things you should be looking for as a minimum and what you should take care to avoid.

So let's get right into the first of them the chair base.

Different types of chair base
Swivel chair bases come in a number of different materials, including plastic, steel, aluminum, and wood (usually on a steel base). The one common thing with all these different types of base is they have 5 arms. Years ago 4 star bases were the norm, however these were superseded by 5 star versions as they are much more stable.

Let's take a look at each type and what matters.

Plastic bases

These are by far the most common form of office chair swivel base in use today. Modern plastic technology makes it easy to produce high quality injection molded bases.

5 star plastic base

Office chair plastic base

The main advantages of plastic bases are they are strong and lightweight. They are also cost effective to produce too.

It's important to choose a base with reinforcing struts as part of the construction as they make it far stronger and able to take the stresses applied to it.

So when choosing a plastic base make sure it includes reinforcing. The underside should have a honeycomb of plastic cross members which combine to keep it rigid.

Steel bases
Steel bases have started to become more common over recent years, particularly on cheaper chairs from China. These are very often chrome plated which makes them look high quality. Unfortunately they are often anything but. When you look at the underside of the base the steel is often heavily pitted and of low quality. Sometimes the ends of the arms where the wheels attach have been crudely crimped to form a curved shape. This weakens the steel at the very point where it needs to be strongest.

Definitely avoid these sorts of bases on cheap chairs. On better quality chairs steel bases are normally finished in paint, satin or polished chrome and are very robust. So no quality issues with these.

Aluminum bases
Aluminum makes a great material for a swivel base. It is both lightweight and strong.

aluminum base

Polished aluminum base

Due to its flexibility in manufacture it's often used to make great designs maybe incorporating curves or shaping to give it a unique look. The aluminum often has either a satin or polished finish.

Paint finishErgo Depot bases are also popular too. Generally speaking aluminum bases are only found on better quality chairs as it's too expensive to meet the price point of cheap chairs.

Wood bases
Wood bases are less common these days. They are mostly used where the user wants to match the chair finish to a natural wood desk. With these bases the wood is decorative. The base has a steel core and the wood is fitted on top of it. Unless you turn the chair upside down you wouldn't be aware it was made like this.

So much for bases let's move on to the gas lift.

Pneumatic gas lifts
The purpose of a chair's gas lift is to provide easy height adjustment for the user. Although they do come in different qualities generally speaking most gas lifts will handle the loads imposed on them. Just be sure to check the load capacity, most will support users up to 250lbs in weight.

Some suppliers offer more than one height of gas lift to cater for different height users. Here's a quick rule of thumb. When standing without shoes on, measure from the floor to your knee joint. Then make sure the gas lift will adjust a little above and below this measurement and you should be fine.

OK that's it for chair bases and gas lifts, the next post takes a look at the heart of any office chair, the seat.


Why You Need A Proper Office Chair Once You Reach Fifty

In this article we're going to examine why people over fifty need to take a different approach to their office chair. We are taking a look at the following 3 points:

  1. What changes once you reach fifty?
  2. Why are some chairs not suitable for people of fifty or over?
  3. What must you have on your office chair?


So let's begin by considering what's different about your needs at fifty.

What changes once you're in your fifties?
If you have spent most of your working life in an office it's likely you have spent at least 25 years sitting in office chairs. That's an awful lot of sitting. During this time your body will almost certainly have adopted some bad postural habits, especially if you haven't always had a good chair. Maybe you're starting to notice some aches and pains? And even if you're not it's likely you will in the next few years.

Could be you're a fitness fanatic however it still makes sense to minimize any damage caused by having the wrong chair. And if you don't do regular exercise you definitely need an ergonomic office chair designed to take the daily strain sitting inflicts on the body as it ages.

It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking all office chairs are the same. They're not, and the wrong one can cause long term damage.

Why are some chairs not suitable for people of fifty or over?
When you were in your twenties pretty much any office chair probably seemed OK. Back then you just needed somewhere to park your butt and because your body was young enough to take the strain it likely wasn't a major problem.

Over time what was once acceptable becomes something to avoid. What do you need to steer clear of? Pretty much all cheap office chairs should be avoided because quality always comes last.

Things like the foam padding, it's usually little better than packing foam grade and after a couple of months goes flat and brittle.

Chairs that don't let you adjust the tension for your body weight. Without it you'll always find yourself fighting to get your chair to do what you want and as soon as you relax it starts working against you again.

Chairs with fixed arms particularly ones having fancy curved shapes. Unless you're very lucky all they do is push your arm and shoulder muscles into the wrong position. Not to mention the discomfort to the underside of your arms from the hard plastic.

So much for what is unsuitable, what should you be looking for?

What must you have on your office chair?
The most important feature is the ability to adjust the depth of the seat. Why? Because it allows you to set the correct distance between back and seat for your leg length. With a fixed seat you will end up with what the manufacturer thinks is right for you and usually it's anything but.

Adjustable arms are essential to properly support your arm and shoulder muscles. Padded tops will make them a lot more comfortable too, so go for this if it's available.

Highly adjustable arms often include extra features like:

  • The ability to swivel the arm pads inwards and outwards to fine tune support
  • Being able to alter the side to side width, this can really help to line them up to match your shoulder width
  • Front to back movement for more accurate positioning of the arm pads

Tilt tension adjustment lets you set the chair to recline with the right pressure for your body weight. So when you lean back the chair moves safely and smoothly with you.

An ergonomically shaped chair back that either adjusts or has some form of independent lumbar adjustment to ensure your spine is properly supported.

All these essential features will help to take the pressure and strain off your body

Won't all these features cost a fortune?
It's likely that a chair with all the right features will set you back at least $400 so there is a significant cost involved. However when you look at the alternative of continuing with poor quality chairs which may save you money in the short term, what will the long term cost be?

Imagine you require medical help from say a chiropractor, you could soon end up having to spend an awful lot more. Is it really worth the risk?

Let's quickly recap on the 3 things we've covered here:

  1. Once you reach your fifties things start to change as your body ages
  2. Cheap chairs that seemed fine in your twenties no longer cut the mustard
  3. A properly featured chair provides the correct support you need

Here's where you can find a summary of the right sort of office chairs for the over fifties.


How To Tell If Your Office Chair Is Killing Your Productivity

If you asked office workers what most affects their productivity chances are their office chair wouldn't be at the top of the list. For many it's regarded as somewhere to park their butt as they go about their daily tasks. And yet if it isn't up to the job it can end up being a huge drain on your productivity. The thing is this isn't always obvious. In this article we're going to look at the problem in 3 stages.

  1. How your office chair can sap your productivity
  2. How to check your chair is set up correctly
  3. Why replacing your chair maybe your best option

Let's get started.

1. Is your office chair a productivity drain?

It's often not obvious that difficulty in concentrating may be due to your chair. When you have a poor chair that doesn't support you correctly it soon starts to cause discomfort. Unfortunately this lack of comfort tends to get worse as the day goes on.

Typically people find problems begin after they have been sitting for more than an hour or so. Frequently changing position in an effort to get comfortable is a give away indicator that your chair is causing problems.

So if you find that your concentration levels start falling away during the day there is a good chance your chair is the culprit. It may be that your chair isn't set up properly so begin by taking a few minutes to run through the basics.

2. Checking your chair set up

Seat height
Start with the seat height. Make sure your feet are resting on the floor and that you legs are at an open angle. A lot of people advise an angle of 90 degrees between thighs and body. However this can cause tightness so try and open up this angle to around 110 degrees it will help your circulation and muscles.

Arm height
From there move onto chair arm position. Hopefully your chair arms adjust. You need to set them so your shoulders are relaxed when your lower arms are resting on the arm pads. If your chair has fixed arms which force your shoulders into an unnatural position it would be best to remove the arms altogether. At least you could then work a bit closer to your desk and use the top to support your elbows.

Chair back
Next adjust the chair back so that it gives good support to your lower back. And if it has a tilt tension adjustment make sure the pressure is set so you can recline comfortably when you want to relax.

Seat depth
If your chair seat depth can be adjusted make sure it's set to suit your leg length with about 2 inches from seat edge to the back of your knees.

If you've done all of this and there's no improvement there's every chance your chair is worn out. Either that or it doesn't have some of the necessary adjustments mentioned above. So where does this leave you?

3. Replacing your office chair may be the only answer

When you still can't get comfortable after running through all your chair's adjustments the only solution is to replace it. And it would be a mistake to just go out and buy a cheap chair thinking it will fix things.

It may bring temporary relief, however all the old problems will rapidly return if it doesn't have the adjustment flexibility you need. Unfortunately $100 office chairs just don't have the range of adjustments or quality of build to keep you comfortable for 6 hours or more a day. You need to look for a better solution to avoid getting caught with the same problem again

Let's quickly sum up the three points we've covered:

  1. Ask yourself whether your chair is taking your mind of your work
  2. Check your chair is set up correctly
  3. Consider replacing your chair if it is worn out or unsuitable


Further reading
In this article on how to choose an ergonomic office chair we look at the essential features you need. And here's where you can find a quick summary of quality office chairs that will support you comfortably and keep you working productively.


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.


Why Buying An Office Chair Online Makes Sense: The Hidden Costs Of Buying Offline

Many people fret about buying an office chair online. Quite naturally they feel that not being able to physically try out a chair before buying is a big problem. In an ideal world it would be nice to be able to test loads of things we happily buy on the net. Nonetheless we commit to buying all sorts of things from online stores without giving a second thought to trying them out first.

So why should it be any different for office chairs?

Why try before you buy isn't as simple as it seems
Lots of people will happily sit in an desk chair at an office equipment retailer for less than a minute and make a snap decision to buy.

It's likely they're looking for a new chair because their old one is worn out and uncomfortable. So it's only natural that whatever you sit in will feel great by comparison.

There is no way such an arbitrary test can possibly indicate whether a chair is right for you or not. Even if you sat in it for half an hour you still wouldn't know if it was suitable.

In reality you need to sit in an office chair for several days before you know whether it's right for you or not. The reason it takes this length of time to be completely sure is because your body needs to be comfortable with the way the chair feels. And the only way to be certain is to use it for many hours at a time.

It's unlikely you will get the chance to test a chair thoroughly without first buying it. So buying online makes as much sense as buying offline and it's a lot simpler too.

Why buying offline is a lot of hassle
At first it seems that buying offline makes sense. However as we've already seen a few quick minutes sitting in the display chair is meaningless in terms of knowing whether it's suitable for you. So you won't know if it's right until you tested it properly at work over several days.

Also you have to drive to go and buy the chair. Then you have the hassle of loading it into your vehicle and handling the delivery yourself.

And if the chair has to be returned then you have to box it back up, load it back in your car and use more gas to return it for a refund.

Buying online avoids a lot of these hassles

Why buying online makes sense
When you buy online it's far more convenient. For a start you don't need to be the delivery driver. Instead your chair gets delivered to your door by a service like FedEx or UPS. The only lifting you need to do is taking it out of the box and into your office.

Provided you approach your chair purchase online thoroughly it makes a great deal of sense to buy this way.

You will also have a far greater choice of chairs online than you will find at the typical office furniture store.

To begin with do some online research for suitable chairs to shortlist. Read reviews of chairs on sites such as this. Read customer feedback to see if there are any comments pointing out potential problems.

Once you've narrowed down to the chair you want the only other thing to check before ordering is what the return policy is.

Why a 30 day return period is vital
A good online store will allow you 30 days in which to return a chair if you find it's not suitable.

It's essential to have this sort of time to be really sure the chair is right for you. Depending on the type of chair you will likely want to fine tune the adjustments over the first few days. Then when you feel you have everything set properly it will give you the chance to try it under all sorts of conditions.

Does it still feel as comfortable when you've been sitting in it for 6 hours or more? Does it support you properly when carrying out different tasks such as typing, surfing the net, reading etc?

Also, think about the color of the fabric. Black or grey make a good choice as they will go with most color schemes. If you are looking to match the seat covering with your interior contact the supplier and ask them to send you samples of fabric. You don't want to find the color clashes with your surroundings.

If you do decide to return a chair bought via the web you’ll probably have to pay the return carriage, typically about $75. Although this seems to make online purchase more costly should you need to return you chair.

Compare the situation with an offline return. You have the cost and hassle of driving to the store again and lugging the chair in and out of your car twice.

Overall there isn’t a lot of difference between the two when you weigh it all up.

Some stores also charge a re-stocking fee so make sure you check thoroughly to avoid any nasty surprises.

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

  • Sitting in a sample chair for 5 minutes is no way to know if it's suitable
  • Buying offline has hidden costs that aren't immediately apparent
  • The choice of chairs online is far more comprehensive
  • Insist on a 30 day return period so you can test the chair properly

Here's where you can find a quick summary of some of the best office chairs to place on your shortlist of potential chairs.


An Ergonomic Office Chair Offers Great Benefits: How Do You Find One?

Got A "Mike Tyson" Chair?

Do you ever feel like sitting in your office chair all day is like climbing into a boxing ring with Mike Tyson?

It buffets you from pillar to post, inflicting pain on your body. No matter what you do, the longer you're in it the more it hurts.

Until by the end of the day your dying for the bell to end the final round so you can get out of it and head off home.

Maybe it's time you went out and got an ergonomic office chair.

What exactly is an ergonomic office chair?
This is actually quite a difficult question to answer. Truthfully an ergonomic office chair has no proper definition and so is actually meaningless when describing any chair. If this wasn't bad enough, there is no government or industry standard to describe such a chair.

Consequently you have to be very careful when attempting to buy one to make sure you don't get stitched up.

How can you be misled when buying a chair described as ergonomic?
All too easily I'm afraid. Because there is no proper definition it means that suppliers can use the term to describe just about anything that has a seat, back and swivel base.

You see this all the time in discount warehouses, cheap shoddy chairs with little more than bamboo springs bearing the epithet ‘ergonomic' which magically transforms a piece of junk into something apparently worth owning.

I don't think so. So, just because it says ergonomic on the wrapper guarantees nothing. Great! How do I sift the wheat from the chaff?

Solving the ergonomic chair dilemma
Let's begin by giving the term ergonomic office chair some kind of definition. Here's how I would describe such a seat.

“An ergonomic office chair is an office chair that has been carefully designed for the user to be able to work productively, efficiently and safely as well as minimizing any feeling of fatigue or discomfort.”

OK why don't we take things a stage further and consider the actual functions such a chair needs. I believe there are 5 essential functions our chair needs to be truly worthy of the title ergonomic. Here they are:

  • Adjustable seat depth for optimal leg comfort
  • Adjustable back height to allow the lower back to be correctly supported
  • Adjustable Arm Height for ease of movement and minimize the risk of RSI
  • Pneumatic height adjustment to suit your body height and weight
  • Adjustable tilt tension allowing each individual user to set the correct pressure

Some high-end chairs actually automate back and tension adjustments, making it even easier to set up to your personal needs. And bear in, you are going to need to invest $300+ if you want of get all the advantages that an ergonomic office chair offers.

What benefits will you gain by selecting the right chair?
You will find is very easy to adjust the settings for the way you like to work. Once correctly configured you'll notice as you move, the chair moves with you to safely and comfortably support you at all times.

You will be less aware of the chair due to its superior comfort and so find you can concentrate throughout your day's work. This results in much better productivity and focus on your work.

Because the chair is designed to give you proper support, muscles don't tire nearly as quickly. This also improves blood flow helping to keep you feeling much more alert and fresh even when tackling complex problems.

You'll know when you have everything set up to match with your body because the chair will feel like it fits like a glove. And insisting on the 5 essential functions will greatly increase your chances of doing so and avoiding the wrong chair.

Making sure you don't end up with the wrong product
Let's quickly summarize the points I've covered so you don't get landed with a liability but instead find a chair that will serve you for many years to come.

Remember there is no official description of an ergonomic office chair, so maintain a healthy skepticism about any products labeled ergonomic, especially cheap chairs.

Use my definition to point you in the right direction.

Insist on getting the 5 essential functions on any chair you buy.

Remember the benefits you will gain by picking a proper ergonomic office seat and realize you need to make an investment to get the right product.

By applying these guidelines you will give yourself a great chance of finding the right chair. After all, you surely don't want another of those Mike Tyson chairs do you?

Here's a summary of some excellent ergonomic office chairs which have been carefully designed to give you great working comfort for those long hours in the office.


Exercise Balls As Office Chairs: Is Sitting On A Ball Of Air A Good Idea?

Boing, boing, boing, boing… holding on grimly to the two rubber antennae as you bounce around the garden or beach, whooping with excitement on that toy bouncing ball. Inevitably you fall off course, never mind and you quickly jump back on and start again.

Did you ever have one of those bouncy balls as a kid? I know I did and yet I never imagined exercise balls might be used one day by people as office chairs.

What is an exercise ball chair?

exercise ball chair

Evolution Ball Chair


Exercise balls have been around for many years now and they are popular with people who want to keep fit and toned.

They are very resilient and extremely easy to use, you just need to inflate them and then you're all set.

Some people just use the ball on its own as a chair, however I don't think that's a good idea.

If you plan to use one, it's best go for a proper exercise ball chair and these days they are very popular with office workers.

Why have they taken off and what persuades people to use them
I think the biggest reason they are so popular as office seats is mainly down to the fact that some people are heartily fed up with the discomfort of their office chair. This is almost always due to the fact that they have only ever used cheap crappy chairs and so assume that all chairs are uncomfortable. They read about how wonderful ball chairs are and all the healthy benefits and decide to take the plunge.

Is an exercise ball a healthy office seat alternative?
Many people switching to a ball chair do so because they believe it is a healthier way to sit. However, the benefits of sitting on one and the health advantages of using it as a means of exercise, tend to become blurred.
Sitting on an exercise ball alone is not advisable because it requires you full attention in keeping balanced. As soon as your concentration lapses you may very well find yourself on the deck. This is particularly true when first getting used to one.

If you really like the idea of an exercise ball chair, much better to choose one that includes a frame as it has a number of benefits.

Advantages of a ball chair

  • They are very simple to use you only need inflate it to suit your body size
  • Cost effective and generally much cheaper than a good office chair
  • Very resilient and can take heavy users who may weigh 350lbs or more
  • Safe as an office chair provided it is the sort made for use as a chair
  • The ball can be removed and used as a means of exercise

Disadvantages of a ball chair

  • Some users have stability problems with them especially at first
  • Need to build up your core muscles for prolonged use
  • It can be difficult to maintain good back posture on models without back supports
  • Maneuverability can be more difficult than a conventional office chair
  • Many ergonomists are deeply skeptical about their benefits

Is an exercise ball a good choice as an office chair?
As you have seen there are advantages and disadvantages in using an exercise ball as your office chair. A ball on its own is not a good idea, it just isn't stable enough or practical in use. However, when you go for a proper ball chair with its own frame they can make good office seats. Best to go for one with castors, arms and a back because you'll find it a lot of easier to use.

And bear in mind, it may well take some time for your core muscles to build up. So be patient and get used to it gradually by sitting in it for short periods to begin with. After all, you don't want one of those boing, boing, bang moments from childhood, office floors and desk edges can be quite unforgiving.

Further reading
Many ergonomists don't recommend using ball chairs, you can read about their reasons here. And if you want to know more about what's available here's where you can find some reviews of ball chairs.

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