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If you are working from home, you need a decent chair. Why? Two words:
Support & Movement
Your chair should support your body well, especially the arch in your low back, to minimise the strain on the spinal discs and help your body stay comfortably upright.
At the same time, you do want to be able to move around and change positions.
Because the best sitting position is one that’s always changing.
So, you need to be able to recline, rotate and shift around in it easily.
Investing in a good chair is like investing in a good mattress. If you’re going to spend a third of your day on it, it’s worth getting a good one.
So, let’s quickly look at the basics of what you need in a chair, then I’ll show you some examples in the budget, middle and high-end price ranges.
What To Look For In An Ergonomic Office Chair
Your low back curves inward (called the lumbar lordosis), and that curve helps distribute the pressure on the spinal discs correctly, as well as reducing tension on the sciatic nerves that run down the back of the legs. If you’ve ever had sciatica, you’ll know all about those!
That curve wants to be supported properly. So lumbar support is essential if you’re going to be sitting down for long periods. Exactly how much is a personal preference, and spinal curves do vary between people, but as a rule, some support is far better than none.
You need to be able to adjust the height. And the best position is where your hips are at least level with your knees, ideally slightly higher, because that helps maintain the curve in your low back.
If it’s the other way around, with your knees higher than your hips (like bucket seats in a sports car) that actually flattens your lumbar curve and can be very unhealthy for your back. You’ll find yourself slouching more and it will be harder to straighten up.
The arms, ideally, should be adjustable too, so you can rest your forearms on them without either hunching your shoulders or having to lean forward. Some people prefer chairs without arms, but it’s good to have the option.
Recline & Rotate
Even the ‘ideal’ sitting position isn’t ideal for long, so the chair should allow you to lean back and recline if you want, with a spring mechanism that helps push you back upright without having to strain. Stretching and fidgeting are good, there’s no one perfect position.
Being able to easily rotate your chair means you’re less likely to pull a muscle reaching for the printer. But more importantly, it makes it easier, and therefore more likely, for you to change your working position.
This is important for your eyes as well as your back, so you’re not fixed in front of the screen the whole time. Just being able to turn around and shift your gaze to something else in the room can help reduce eye strain and headaches.
Some people like a foam chair. But if you’re a ‘warm person’ then you’ll appreciate having good ventilation to the seat and back. Mesh is popular for this reason, as well as adding to the comfort and support.
Home Office Chairs For Different Budgets
The Budget One
Price: £70-£80 (view on Amazon)
This is your basic simple, affordable home office chair. It has lumbar support, is height adjustable, tilts and swivels, with a nice mesh back to keep you cool.
You can also lock the tilt mechanism and adjust the tension.
There’s nothing fancy about it, but it’s a darn sight better than sitting on a fixed dining room chair or (heaven forbid) the couch.
So if you’re just looking to get the bases covered for less than a hundred pounds, this chair will do the job well.
Price: £239.95, save £71.99 (view on vendor’s website)
What do you get for a bit more money?
- Full synchro knee-tilt mechanism (I’ll explain that in a second!)
- Better lumbar support
- Adjustable arms and headrest.
A seat’s mechanism is the bit underneath the seat that determines how it tilts.
The cheapest chairs have a swivel tilt/centre tilt mechanism, meaning the fulcrum is at the centre of the seat. You can tilt back, but your heels have to lift up off the ground and it takes a bit of effort.
The next step up is a knee-tilt mechanism, where the fulcrum is at the front of the seat, just behind the knees.
This means your feet stay on the floor when you tilt back, and the action is easier. So you’re more likely to change position frequently, which is better than sitting in a static position (however ‘ergonomic’ it is).
‘Synchro’ means the back of the seat tilts back more than the base, usually a 2:1 ratio.
Again, this just feels more natural and comfortable. And when you consider how much time you spend sitting in it, small differences like this can add up.
Price: under £700 (view on Amazon)
The most expensive office chairs aim to respond and adapt automatically to your individual body weight, movement and sitting position.
They do this by combining flexible materials with a weight-sensitive/mechanism-free, er… mechanism.
This makes it nice and smooth to move around in whilst maintaining support, reducing body fatigue and pressure on the spine.
And there are more adjustable features, so you can customise it to suit your individual body type better. For example:
- Height of the backrest
- Depth of the seat
- Height, angle, and depth of the armrests
But one of the key features is the segmented backrest, which has a separate lumbar support section that automatically adjusts according to pressure.
The point of this is to provide better contact and support to the low back and adapt to individual body shape and changes in position.
Or according to this manufacturer’s description: “The Back-fit adjustment allows you to position the backrest in line with your spine’s natural curve, so you achieve a neutral and balanced posture that helps you remain focused and comfortable.”
They also include free maintenance service for 3 years.
Just like mattress and pillows, choosing a desk chair for a home office often comes down to personal preference; and in truth, you don’t really know how you’ll get on with it until you try.
But it’s good to understand what to look for, why they vary in price, and what the different features provide.
Because finding the right one can make a big difference to how you feel, both in the short and long term.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments 🙂
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