With COVID lockdowns over our heads again, most of you have already sorted out your working from home set-up. You probably already have a desk, PC and a monitor, but what about a chair? Have you chosen the right one?

Finding and investing in the perfect ergonomic office chair means you should not only be comfortable, but also find one that promotes optimal spine and body biomechanics.

When choosing an office chair there are 3 main considerations:

Can you adjust the height?

  • It has to be height adjustable. Most chairs are, but check before you choose. My work colleagues laugh at me. I have often have my chair on the lowest setting because I am short, but this means this means I can have my feet flat on the floor which is better for overall posture. A seat height that ranges from about 40 to 54cm off the floor should work for most people

Does it have lumbar support?

  • It needs to have good lumbar support. Think about how much time are you going to be spending in this chair? Is it 9am to 5pm 5 days per week or is it only 2 hours a day. That lumbar support should be able to maintain your natural lumbar curve. It is best to have a chair that can change it’s height and depth. A good supportive chair will stop you from slumping.

Does it swivel?

  • Does the chair swivel around to fit your workspace? Moving the chair is often easier than moving your body – no matter how lazy that may sound. You don’t want to spend your work day sitting straight on only to find you have to crane your neck all the way to your left to look at the monitor. Does it have castor wheels, too?

Other features you should consider include:

  • The seat pan (funny phrase eh?) and width. The width of the seat should be at least one inch wider than your hips. The edge of the chair should be positioned just behind the knees with your feet either flat on the floor or resting on a foot rest.
  • Do you need arms on the chair and are they height adjustable? A good width for resting your forearms is great, but what about the height? If you are pushed all the way in are your hands going to hit the desk top? Or will you rest them on the desk instead?
  • Do you need to recline? How much time are you going to be spending in this chair? Will you just be attending zoom meetings, be writing or typing furiously, or having the odd cat nap. Apparently, the ideal recline for relieving back pressure is between 110 and 130 degrees. People with back injuries benefit most from these reclinable chairs. Most chairs will also allow you to lock the reclining angle, but do your research first before purchasing.
  • What about the seat material ? Leather looks lovely and will cost you more, but often vinyl wears better. Vinyl will cope better with constant santising, but that might not be required in your own home.

WHAT OTHER OPTIONS ARE THERE, BESIDES THE TRADITIONAL OFFICE CHAIR?

The Saddle Seat / Stool / Chair

  • You cannot slump when there is a saddle between your legs. When the angle between your hips and knees is 135%, your spine is held in it’s natural curve.
  • You are less likely to experience hip and knee issues due to the change in angle compared to a regular chair and this also improves the circulation to your legs.
  • Saddle seats are height adjustable and you sit higher than a regular office chair. You can also tilt the seat.
  • Saddle seats make you activate your core muscles. What a great workout for those who think they don’t have any!
  • Some saddle seats have a split seat meaning you can sit comfortably for a longer period. In addition to this is reduces pressure on the pelvic floor and reduces the temperature in the genital area – particularly nice and a healthier position for men.

Stability ball

Many of the benefits of sitting on a saddle seat also apply to the stability ball as well. You may even already have one of these in your house.

You can bounce on it, if you need a bit of that movement stimulation, but you may have issues positioning it correctly under the day. You might also want to consider putting it on a stand in case it rolls away.

The stability ball comes in different widths. You probably don’t want to start with less than 60cm for a small female. Most commonly males are comfortable on those that are 70 -75cm tall.

The main down side is that you still have to pump it up.

The Standing Desk

The Standing desk has become far more popular in recent times and many people desk hop nowadays. Who says you need to sit? Maybe you have chronic back pain for example, a herniated disc. Standing might be the most comfortable position for you to be in.

The height is totally adjustable to a person standing or sitting.

Research has now shown that standing after a meal allows the blood sugar levels to return to normal faster than it would if you were sitting. There is even a teeny, tiny amount of evidence to say you burn f few more calories standing.

Standing instead of sitting is thought to reduce the risk of back and shoulder pain. We know that sitting is associated with a higher risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers, obesity and premature death. Would you consider standing to reduce your risk?

You might need to also consider what else it might mean for you. A change in work posture habit might lead to developing back leg or foot pain because you aren’t used to it.

Final thoughts

As someone once said, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Which option is good for you— traditional sitting, a stability ball, a sit/stand workstation— will depend on personal preference, budget, and appropriateness to the type of work you do. Whichever you choose— it’s crucial to know what good posture is for that solution, take regular breaks, and if issues start to arise, consult your friendly neighbourhood chiropractor.