Webster defines the term “ergonomic” as “an applied science focused on designing and coordinating things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.” Fundamentally, this means that ergonomically built items are specially made for comfort and productivity. Ergonomic chairs are no different. They are different from typical office chairs as ergonomic seats are designed for maximum comfort and productivity. Regular office chairs might not have some ergonomic features like armrests, variable height, lower back support, etc. Simply speaking, ergonomic seats will probably have a higher level of flexibility versus a standard office chair.
Exactly why are ergonomic seats essential? Well, whenever you take a seat and add up how much time you might be seated in the chair, it becomes crucial. According to OHSA, the average office based employee, working a 40 hour week, will spend 25-30 hours in a seated position. Over a twelve month period, that’s over 1500 hours in a seated position at work. That much time in a seated location puts quite a bit of stress on the lumbar area of your spine.
There are a number of different ergonomic capabilities that enhance the fit and comfort of a chair. Functions like back support, arm rests, seat height, and chair angle come together to support your body. If all those features and terms have your head spinning, I’d propose that you focus on ride height and back support as your main focus. Having a variable ride height allows you to set the chair height to your personalized needs and wants. The height that you select will also impact the angle of your lower back so it’s imperative that you try different heights. Back support plays a important role in your long term comfort. Look for a seat with adjustable back support, which is also frequently known as “lumbar” support in reference to the lumber area of your backbone. Also you can make use of the tilt function on your chair to recline yourself slightly, which takes additional pressure off your backbone.
Armrests are another ergonomic advancement that can make a significant improvement in overall comfort. As a result of varying desk heights, chairs with armrests may not always fit under low or small desks. OHSA has additionally noted that armrests can reduce your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
I know that all these characteristics may be confusing when it actually boils down to making a choice, so it’s worth your time to understand what ergonomic functions are really critical. Your level of comfort and health will play a direct role in your production and overall success, so take the time to review your options.