Ergonomic chairs are pieces of furniture designed to provide you with the greatest amount of support and comfort. With the proper investment, you can sit comfortably throughout the day (especially if you work a desk job), and avoid the chronic pain, back problems, and other health issues associated with poor posture or uncomfortable sitting situations.
The thing is, there are thousands of ergonomic chairs to choose from. How can you be sure you’re selecting the right type?
Consider Your Priorities
First, consider your personal priorities. What is motivating you to get an ergonomic chair? For example, are you currently uncomfortable sitting in your existing chair? Are you interested in preserving your back and neck health for the long-term future? Or are you just interested in decking out your home office with the best and most professional-looking furniture you can find?
There are no right or wrong priorities to have here, but you’ll need to consider them carefully before you can begin making the “right” decision for you.
Factors to Consider When Buying an Ergonomic Chair
When browsing for an ergonomic chair, these are the factors you should keep in mind:
- Overall shape and style. First, you’ll need to think about the overall shape and style of the chair. Some new types of ergonomic furniture have emerged to force the body into a position that strengthens muscles or fixes bad posture—but they’re not right for everyone. For example, there’s the “saddle ergonomic chair,” which is designed like an equestrian saddle; it’s great if you struggle with back pain or if you’re interested in maintaining a position that’s close to standing, but it’s not ideal for everyone. If you’re like most people, you want a conventional office-style chair with a familiar look and style.
- Material. Next, you’ll need to think about the material that your chair will use. Again, there are many options, each with pros and cons, and your decision will ultimately come down to whatever’s most comfortable to you. For the most part, chairs that provide more cushion and more support tend to be more comfortable, so softer materials are preferable. Leather is more stain resistant, but most people prefer a breathable material like cloth.
- Lumbar support. Different chairs offer different levels of lumbar support for the lower back. If you suffer from lower back pain, or if you feel you need extra back support, this is a crucial feature.
- Seat height. It’s hard to visualize the true size of a chair, especially when buying online, so look at the seat height. You’ll want a chair that allows you to sit comfortably at your desk of choice, without straining your shoulders by overreaching or pulling you into a bad posture.
- Seat width and depth. You’ll also want to measure the seat width and depth. Roomier chairs tend to be preferable, so long as they don’t go overboard.
- Armrests. What kind of armrests are included with this chair? Are they an appropriate height? What kind of material are they made from?
- Swivel and mobility. How much swivel and rocking action do you want? For most people, some amount of pivoting is a good thing. You should be able to move freely in your chair if you need to turn and look at something. While you’re at it, consider whether you want to add wheels to the chair to make it easier to move around on the floor (especially when you’re sitting in it).
- Customizability. Most of the above features in modern chairs offer some degree of customizability. This is one of the most important features of your chosen chair, because it allows you to make adjustments, fine-tuning your chair to perfectly suit you as an individual. With the right controls, you should be able to tweak the chair to perfectly accommodate your height and workspace, moving the height, adjusting the lumbar support, and moving the armrests to be as comfortable as possible.
- Cost. Ergonomic chairs can be expensive, but the costs are often worth it, since you’ll be improving your health long-term. Don’t be afraid to splurge on this furniture item, since you often get what you pay for; if you buy a cheap chair from a low-quality brand, it may end up falling apart on you within a year or two. But at the same time, you may be working with a strict upper limit for your budget.
Finding the perfect chair for your needs, including your budget, your existing furniture, and the size and shape of your body, can be difficult. The good news is, with so many options on the market, and so many opportunities for customization, you should eventually be able to find a piece of furniture that fits you perfectly.