Avoid Injury From Sitting (Picking The Right Office Chair)

June 21, 2022

By Workspace Resource

Over 60 million Americans, roughly 1/6th, have had recent back pain. Of these, about one-quarter have chronic back pain. Many things can cause back pain, but work-related stress or injury is among the most common.

Those in manual labor or office jobs tend to suffer the worst because lifting and sitting upright for extended periods of time are hard on our spines. Lifting can make you throw out your back, and sitting in an uncomfortable chair can make your spine gradually twist into unnatural positions.

Picking the right ergonomic chair can go a long way toward solving these problems. We'll talk about how to find the right chair in this article.

Lumbar Support

The lumbar, or lumbar spine, is a set of five bones and related structures that form the lower spine above the tailbone.

It's a common misconception that the human spine is straight. The truth is that a healthy human spine forms a slight S-shape. Unfortunately, most chairs get built with straight backs, and sitting in them for long periods of time can cause your lumbar spine to lose some of its curves.

Ergonomic chairs usually have a curve to them to better accommodate the lower back. Some chairs even have adjustable lumbar support so you can find what best suits you.

Proper Seat Height

When looking for a chair, many of us don't even consider seat height. We just assume that the chair is built to the right height, but that isn't always true. Using a chair that's the wrong height for long periods of time is often damaging in its own way.

Most types of chairs on the market sit between 15 and 20 inches off the ground. This means that most people will be able to sit on the chair while still having their legs reach the ground without having to bend their knees at an uncomfortable angle. Most office chairs come with a height adjustment feature for those who are a little taller or shorter than the average person.

Having a chair at an improper height can also cause lower back pain, even if it has lumbar support. The support simply won't work because you're sitting at an unnatural angle to fit the chair. The good news is that modern office furniture is taking lumbar support, seat height, and other factors into account to improve the health of workers.

Built-in Armrests

The ideal office chair should have armrests. While some of us don't use them that often, having them can still be a relief when our arms get tired.

Armrests are built to keep our arms at a right angle so that we can type without moving too much. Like most other features of an ergonomic chair, the armrests were designed to keep the user from slouching, which in turn prevents back pain.

Swivel Feature

The ability to Swivel is arguably one of the greatest innovations in the history of chairs, and probably the most misused as well. Who sees a swivel chair and doesn't immediately want to spin it like the teacup ride at a theme park?

Swivel chairs are more than just fun, though. They also help reduce unnecessary straining or stretching. The ability to change angles allows for a greater range of movement so that we can reach things on our desks without stretching.


Wheels come standard on most office chairs, and for good reason. Much like the swivel, wheels make the chair more mobile so that we can do more without moving too much.

Wheels also add a level of comfort, and, unlike chair legs, can be adjusted without having to dismantle the chair. They're also better for balance and weight distribution.

There's a reason office chairs are attached to a stand that then attaches to a central hub that branches out into wheels. The single stand means that all the weight is concentrated in one area. Once the stand hits the wheel hub, the weight is then distributed into each wheel, thus reducing the forces pushing on a single point.


What a chair is made of is just as important as how it is made. Ergonomics means almost nothing if the chair is built of stiff, uncomfortable materials. This is part of the reason wooden chairs aren't as common anymore.

Some of the most common materials for modern office chairs are leather, mesh, and various fabrics. These materials are soft and flexible, and the chairs themselves are often stuffed for additional padding.

Where the Chair Ends

Ergonomic chairs can prevent back pain and help with a lot of other work-related ailments. However, it's important to note that there's a limit to how much a good chair can do.

For the best results, an ergonomic chair should be paired with occasional breaks. Five minutes of walking around can help in just as many ways as a good chair.

Picking the Right Ergonomic Chair: A Guide

Picking the right ergonomic chair can seem difficult, but it gets much easier if you know what to look for. We've discussed some of the most important features of an ergonomic office chair in this article, but there's always more to learn.

If you want more information and advice about furniture, especially in the office, please visit our site. If you're in the market for furniture, we can help you design a whole room. Just look at our furniture, pick what you like, and we'll do the rest.

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