The chair is easily the most frequently used and underestimated piece of furniture in every office. Office chairs are often taken for granted; yet, investing in a properly designed office chair can make a big impact on your physical health and your overall mood in the workplace. It’s an essential piece of furniture for anyone who needs to sit for his or her job for extended periods of time, and it’s especially important if you work in front of a computer.
What are Ergonomic Chairs?
Ergonomically designed office chairs are work chairs that offer a number of features to accommodate almost every person’s body shape, size, capabilities, limitations, and comfort preferences. Ergonomic designs improve human environment interaction, preserve health and well-being, and are a critical addition to any workplace. When shopping for furniture for your office, it’s important to understand that ergonomic chairs can prevent injury.
Benefits of Ergonomic Chairs
According to Concept Seating, one reason why ergonomic chairs are so popular is because most people spend almost 8 hours per day at work and want to be comfortable. Other chairs with poor lumbar support can cause strain and long-term negative health effects, leading to increased risk of injury.
Having a chair that provides lumbar support and many adjustable features to accommodate your body’s measurements can alleviate some of the unnecessary strain on the structures of your spine. Properly supporting chairs also help with injuries linked to computer usage and sitting for long periods of time in front of a screen.
If the person using a non-ergonomic chair is also working with a computer, computer-related injuries can come into effect. As mentioned by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, computer use has been linked to several types of injuries known as upper extremity repetitive stress injuries, cumulative trauma disorders, and work related musculoskeletal disorders. Common disorders directly associated with computer input devices include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, tenosynovitis, and neck tension syndrome, which affect the hands, wrists, forearms, and neck.
With ergonomic chairs, there is not a one set, standard position. The person using the chair can adjust each piece of the chair so that they are at eye-level with the computer, slightly above the keyboard while typing, and relaxed with plenty of leg room.
Finding the Right Fit
With the increasing trend of developing a healthier workplace with ergonomic chairs, it can be tempting to purchase any chair that is labeled “ergonomic,” but you shouldn’t buy the first one you see. Consider researching different types of ergonomic chairs and the adjustable features of each one in order to find one that works best for you. Just like trying to find the perfect pair of jeans, it needs to fit right.
Although ergonomic chairs are designed to suit a range of people, every person is built differently and every chair is not guaranteed to suit the characteristics of every person. For example, the height could be too short or arm rests too long even with the chair’s adjustability. As a rule of thumb – the optimal seat height is about one quarter of the body height, but it varies depending on the employee’s torso to leg ratio.
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, “a chair becomes ergonomic only when it specifically suits a worker’s size (body dimensions), his or her particular workstation, and the tasks that must be performed there.”
The features you should look for in an ergonomic chair are:
- Seat height
- Seat width and depth
- Lumbar support
- Arm rests
- Seat material
Do yourself a favor, and put ergonomic chairs on the top of your priority list the next time you decide to buy new office furniture. Your health and work will thank you for the support.