If you work in an office chances are you've heard of an ergonomic chair. Ergonomics is the science of designing a job, the equipment and the workplace to fit the worker. Some jobs can cause injury because of repetitive stress, or equipment that causes the body to work in unnatural ways. The five main aspects of ergonomics are safety, comfort, ease of use, productivity/performance and aesthetics. Typically though, when people think of ergonomics they think of physical ergonomics, or tools designed to work with the body. Ergonomic office chairs are what comes to mind when most people think of tools designed to work with the body. Office workers have to sit in the same position doing the same repetitive tasks over and over. After a while the arms and wrists can become injured. It doesn't take much movement to prevent this injury caused by repetitive stress.
Ergonomic desk chairs come in all shapes and sizes from the traditional looking ergonomic leather chair to a device that doesn't even resemble a chair at all the ergonomic kneeling chair, there's even an ergonomic ball chair, that uses an exercise ball as the seat. Let's take a look at the what you should look for in your ergonomic task chair.
Ergonomic Office Chair
Choosing an Ergonomic Chair
Seat height: Your chair should be easily adjustable, most have a pneumatic adjustment lever, this is one of the easiest ways to adjust your chair. It should be adjustable so that your feet can sit flat on the floor. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor and your arms should be parallel to the desk. Even if your seat is adjustable you may need to find some way to adjust your desk too.
Lumbar support: You need a seat with good lumbar support. Your spine has a natural curve but sitting for long hours causes you to slouch which straightens this curve. This strains the muscles in the lower back. An ergonomic chair should have an adjustment for lumbar support, it should move up and down to fit the curve of your back and in and out too. You may notice that a lot of cars are starting to get this same adjustment.
Backrest: The backrest of your chair should be adjustable in height and angle if the backrest is seperate from the seat. It should be able to move forward and back and support the natural curve of the spine. It should also have a locking mechanism to keep it from going too far forward and back.
Seat material: the seat should be made of a material that will not get hot after sitting on it for long hours at a time. Cloth breathes better than leather, and you can even find an ergonomic mesh chair, for the ultimate in breathability.
Arm rests: The armrests should be adjustable up and down so that the users elbow and lower arm rest lightly on them, not the forearms. You shouldn't have to lean forward for your arms to rest. Of course you might not need an ergonomic computer chair if you're doing other tasks. I play guitar and I don't like seats with armrests because the hit the side of the guitar and prevent me from getting my arms and hands in the proper position. Remember the best ergonomic chair for one task may not be the best for another.
Swivel: If you need to reach different areas of your desk you should be able to do it without straining and a swivel will help. Of course not all ergonomic posture chairs can swivel, the kneeling chair doesn't.
There are several other types of chairs mentioned the ball chair, which causes constant micro movements which prevents the body from staying completely stationary. There are also saddle chairs, that you sit astride as well as the aforementioned kneeling chair which rests weight on the shins taking it off the back. It looks very uncomfortable but actually isn't. It is a bit difficult to get into and out of since your legs must fit between the supports. If you have limited leg mobility it probably isn't the ergonomic office chair for you. Whatever chair you decide on, be sure to look at the components mentioned above and go try one out. Make sure it actually does work for you. Most office supply companies have models you can try. A good chair can mean the difference between a good day and a painful day.
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