For office workers, aches and pains are often part of the daily grind. Unfortunately, too many decide to just suffer rather than trying to minimize the problem.
While not every workplace discomfort is directly related to ergonomics, how you choose to set up your desk, computer station, and office chair can make a big difference. In addition, small things like whether you sit with good posture can really add up over those long work shifts.
Since your seat tends to be more easily adjusted than your desk, here are some helpful tips for ensuring your office chair is as comfortable as possible.
A Rundown of Ergonomic Features
Depending on the type of chair you have, the features you can adjust will vary. In general, your standard desk chair will be able to swivel and have some sort of height adjustment mechanism (usually pneumatic).
Whether you want to adjust your existing chair or are looking to purchase a new one, the following items are good to keep in mind since they are some of the most common.
Pneumatic Seat Height Adjustment– Allows you to change seat height. Some ergonomic chairs have a larger range of adjustment and can better accommodate sitters who are much taller or shorter than average.
Seat Pan Slider/Seat Depth and Width– Allows you to change seat depth, width, or how forward or backward the seat is positioned.
Lumbar/Back Support– Often a type of cushioning that is built-in or detachable.
Locking Tilt Control– Allows you to lock your chair into a tilted or semi-reclined position.
Adjustable Tilt Tension– Allows you to adjust the tightness or looseness of your chair tilt.
Syncro Tilt Mechanism– Chair mechanism that synchronizes your recline with the angle of your seat. Usually balanced at a ratio of 1 degree of seat lift to every 2 degrees of back recline. Useful for individuals who experience poor blood circulation to their legs/feet.
Adjustable Armrests– Allows you to customize height and/or width. The easy way to fix having your elbows too far apart or having to scrunch your shoulders to use the armrests.
How to Adjust Common Problem Areas
Chair is Too Tall or Short– Use the seat height adjustment mechanism. Controls are typically a button, lever, or turning bolt often located underneath the seat. Short individuals can also use a footrest, while taller individuals may need to consider a heavy duty chair.
Seat Feels Unsupportive or Cuts into Back of Knees– Adjust using the seat slider or look for a chair that has greater depth and width. Edge of seat should rest about 2 inches away from the back of your knees and feel like it is solidly supporting you.
Back Pain or Slouching– Make sure cushioning is at the center of your back (where the spine curves inwards). This provides support and discourages bad sitting posture.
Chair Does Not Tilt in a Controlled Manner– Refine tilt control and tension settings. Often a chair will not tilt or tilt too fast because one (or both) of these tilt-related features is not set up properly.