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Five High Quality Comfortable Ergonomic Office Task Chairs

Updated on April 26, 2014

Secretarial Backache

Purchase the Right Chair, Save on Workman's Comp

If you have ever felt like the secretary or businesswoman pictured to the right, then you know how important a good quaity office task chair can be to a happy and productive work environment. Undoubtedly, working at a desk from 9 to 5 is no fun when you constantly experience back pain from a poorly designed office task chair. However, when you have a good quality office chair, the day goes mouch smoother and the work flow is interrupted less due back fatigue or injury. Some nationally famous business organizations even found out that spending a few extra dollars on high quality task chairs can save hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost work time and workman's comp claims.

In fact from 1984 to 94, Repetitive Stress Injury compensation claims rose 770%, with an average claim running approximately $43,000 according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc. Reducing the risk of such dangerous, and potentially debilitating injuries can be accomplished with a solid understanding of ergonomics and by creating an office (at home or work) environment that encourages proper posture, positioning and comfort.

This hub presents five of the more popular office task chair models including

  • Herman Miller's Aeron Chair
  • Herman Miller's Mirra
  • Steelcase's Leap Chair
  • Steelcase's Criterion
  • Humanscale Freedom

Three Principles of Ergonomic Design

There are three essential principles to ergonomics and these are:

  1. The need for multiple, safe positions in which to sit and operate is paramount.
  2. When force must be exerted by an individual, it should be done with the largest appropriate muscle groups.
  3. All joints should be maintained, for as long as possible, at the mid-point of their range, especially those of the head, trunk and upper limbs.

Deviation from these rules contributes to unhealthy working conditions that will lead, over the course of time, to unfortunate (and avoidable) physical trauma.

Aeron Chair

Aeron, by Herman Miller

One of the most popular office task chairs is the Aeron by Herman Miller. It has mesh instead of fabric on the back and seat and comes in three sizes to fit three basic body styles. The Aeron can be ordered with maximum or minimum adjustments depending on your budget. Of course the more adjustments the easier it is to fine tune for your particular body style.

According to Herman Miller authorities, The Aeron Chair resulted from intensive studies into the human body and represented some of the best in office ergonomics. Winner of the Design of the Decade (1990s) award of Business Week and the Industrial Designers Society of America (ISDA), the Aeron Chair undergoes load testing by 20,000 drops of a 200 pound weight at various locations to insure its strength and durability as well.

As skin temperatures can increase by as much as 20% in foam padded chairs, the designers created the Pellicle suspension system. The Pellicle material distributes weight and promotes air circulation. It even comes with a five-year guarantee to not fail.

Although it comes with a hefty price tag, the Aeron chair can eliminate thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost wages. At the same time, it will assuredly give each worker a newfound sense of comfort in the office and a chance to get up and head home with head held high, rather than bent with discomfort and stress.

Mirra Chair

Mirra by Herman Miller

The Mirra chair is another mesh-type office task chair by Herman Miller. It has many of the same features as the Aeron but with more of a plastic back. At first glance, the Mirra with the Titanium colored design and plastic back looks a little rigid leaving one to think that it could not be comfortable. However, once you sit in one you might think you died and went to office chair heaven.

The Mirra® ergonomic chair conforms to your size and posture as well as movements made within the chair making it perfect for office use.The back support is wonderful with this chair. There is no adjustment needed with the bendable, elastic TriFlex backing that supports your entire spine.

The Mirra® Chair also has a FlexFront seat edge that allows you to adjust the depth of the seat. This prevents a gap between the seat and backrest, making it all the more comfortable for you.With its wide tilt range, you are always in control of the chair and not the other way around.

In addition, the back can be upholstered in foam-free Latitude fabric without adding bulk to the trim profile; Latitude is breathable and maintains the total support of the TriFlex back.The innovative, clean look and light-scaled design also comes in several colorful choices that make a great addition to any office décor.

Leap Chair

The Leap Chair by Steelcase

The Leap Chair is a heavy duty office task chair offered by Steelcase. Fully loaded, the Leap chair has an ergonomic design with a wide range of adjustments to fine tune the chair to fit your particular body style including back tension and contour adjustments, seat depth and tilt adjustments, as well as the airlift height adjustment. It can be ordered in a variety of different color fabrics or leather.

More specifically according to one review site, the Steelcase Leap office task chair comes with the following features:

Adjustable Lumbar
So nice. If you get any chair, this is a big plus. It totally has changed how I sit and actually puts my back up against the seat back instead of hunched over or leaning back.

Seat Height
Standard, but much easier to move. You have to stand for it to move up, but hey, you should be standing occasionally anyway. It’s got a nice pshhhht sound too.

Lower Back Firmness
Hello Lower Back! With the Lumbar adjusted correctly, you have the option to adjust the firmness in that area as well.

Upper Back Force
This is a really nice feature of you have the Back Stop in an unlocked setting, meaning the back moves in and out. It increases the pressure, so you don’t just go flailing backwards. Love it.

Back Stop
Where most seats have two position, this has 5 position to set how far the back extends. Used with the above Upper Back Force you can really get just the right amount of lean for those afternoon stretches.

Adjustable Arms
Pretty standard, EXCEPT you have complete up, down, in and out adjustability as well, plus rotation.

Seat Depth
In and Out baby! This allow you to move the seat to the optimal position based on the other setting. I’d adjust this last.

(Adjustable Headrest)
The seat I had didn’t have one of these, but you can imagine how much less you would drool on yourself when suddenly napping.

Criterion Chair

The Criterion by Steelcase

The Criterion is another well-designed office task chair by Steelcase. Although it runs a few hundred dollars less than the Leap Chair or the Herman Miller Aeron and Mirra, a fully loaded or equipped Criterion comes with all of the same adjustments except the ability to contour the back. This chair comes in three different models including low, medium, and high back versions and a variety of different fabric colors. Like the Leap chair, the Criterion can be ordered with a sliding seat to suit the length of your legs.

Freedom Chair

Freedom by Humanscale

Winner of 10 design awards to date—including the Design Distinction Award in the prestigious ID Design Review 2000 competition—the Freedom chair by Niels Diffrient has revolutionized the task chair industry. Its weight-sensitive recline and synchronously adjustable armrests set new standards for task chair performance and functionality to keep the sitter exceptionally comfortable while also lowering the risk of long-term injury.

According to its maker Humanscale, this office task chair comes with the following features:

Pivoting Backrest

  • Extra motion of the backrest during recline automatically adjusts to the changing needs
    of the spine
  • Provides up to 1” additional lumbar support when needed

Self-Adjusting Recline

  • Intelligent counter-balance recline mechanism automatically provides the right amount of support through the full range of recline motion, regardless of user size and weight
  • No tension springs to adjust
  • No recline locks to set/release
  • During recline, the angle between torso and legs opens up for better body function
  • User maintains near-constant eye level during recline

Contoured Cushions

  • Carefully sculpted to match body contours
  • Increased contact area reduces pressure points
  • Modular for easy replacement

Synchronous Armrests

  • Revolutionary armrests move in tandem to eliminate uneven arm positioning
  • Natural lift and release action for immediate repositioning without buttons or locks
  • 6” range of vertical motion to accommodate all users and tasks
  • Can be positioned below thigh level for close table or desk work
  • Attached to backrest so arms stay in same relation to body during recline
  • Duron arm pad for durability and comfort

Standard Cylinder

  • Provides seat height range that accommodates 95% of the population

Body Fit

  • Size adjustable to fit more than 95% of the population
  • Adjustments for fit-to-size:
    • Headrest: 5” vertical adjustment range
    • Seat Height: 5” adjustment range
    • Seat Depth: 2.25” adjustment range
    • Backrest/Lumbar Support Height: 3” adjustment range

Hard Casters

  • 2.5” double-wheel casters for carpeted floors


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      very useful article i have back pian and this really helps

    • ecoggins profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Corona, California

      GmaGoldie, thank you for the good question. I am not sure which is the most expensive. Certainly a fully loaded Areon Chair can be fairly expensive, but I think humanscale has some pretty pricy chairs as well.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin


      Is the Herman Miller the most expensive? My husband was so proud of that chair! Yes, in the work place status is the chair!

    • ecoggins profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Corona, California

      It was probably the most enlightening, encouraging, and inspirational as well.

    • heart4theword profile image


      8 years ago from hub

      One of the most comfortable chairs I have had for work, is the one where your knees rest on a padded board:) Detailed Hub!

    • ecoggins profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Corona, California

      Lilly, I used to sell office furniture and task chais. For about six months I stared at the Herman Miller Mirra and thought who in the world would ever buy one of those things. Finally, I pulled one down from a shelf and sat in one. I had never sat in a chair that was so comfortable. Thank you fo your interaction and comments.

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 

      8 years ago from Central Oregon

      For anyone who spends at least 6 hours at a desk, this is the best article I have seen to date for ergonomically sound chairs! Thank you!


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