Which Chair Is Best For You?

What do shoes, your favourite pair of jeans, and office chairs have in common? They all have to fit well and make you feel great.

We’ll leave the fashion advice for a later time, but let’s chat office chairs.

According to Safe Work Australia, half of us hold a job role that requires sitting at least some of the time. Considering the commute to and from work, time spent at our desks, and sitting for meals, it’s not a stretch to think that many of us sit most of the day.

Clearly, we should be thinking about what we’re sitting on.

Office chairs can affect sitting posture and spinal support, which are crucial to preventing muscoskeletal issues. Less aches and pains are something we can all get on board with, so let’s draw some parallels.

A more supportive chair may mean fewer back problems. In 2014-2015, 1 in 6 Australians reported back issues. An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare survey shows that those affected by chronic back problems report lower quality of life.  

Would an appropriate desk chair protect you from falling into these statistics? Possibly. Participants in a handful of studies reported immediate relief of muscoskeletal pain when using ergonomic chairs.

While many office chairs may be labelled as ergonomic, that doesn’t mean they tick all the boxes. We’ve selected the primary ones to consider, according to the minimum requirements set by work safety organisations:

  • Adjustable seat height

  • Lower back (lumbar) support

  • Adjustable height and tilt of chair back

  • Adjustable seat tilt

  • Easy to operate controls from sitting position

  • Adequate cushioning

  • A five-point base for stability.

Head and arm rests are optional for the user, but should be adjustable as well. Adjustability is important, as everyone’s body is different.

When seated in your chair your body position should be:

  1. Elbows comfortably held at 90-degree angles when using a keyboard.

  2. Thighs parallel to the ground.

  3. Feet flat on the floor or a foot rest.

  4. Lower back supported by the back of the chair.

  5. Head level and able to look straight at your working screen.

If your chair is comfortable and allows for these positions, you’ve chosen well!

While a great chair is likely to offer you a less painful and pleasant working experience, it can never replace a bit of movement. Take regular breaks and check out our article on chair yoga for some inspiration.