We’re not exaggerating when we say that the chair you’re going to sit on is likely the most important piece of furniture you’re going to have in your office, be it at work or at home. Looks are a secondary concern – while there are plenty of great office chairs combining functionality with multiple points in the aesthetics department, we strongly recommend against picking an office chair just for the sake of style or how well it’s going to complement the curtains. After all, this is the piece of furniture you’re going to be spending innumerable hours in, and a great looking chair, or one that sacrifices comfort for the bare minimum slapped together under a low price-tag, is not going to cut it.
Ergonomics is, in the end, the biggest deciding factor when looking for an office chair you’re going to find yourself seated at for hours on end, day after day – selecting the right chair, especially suited to you, can both alleviate any flare-ups of backpain or help bring relief to conditions like hip arthritis, while also helping you maintain the proper posture to prevent sprains and pains from sprouting up in the first place.
When you’re out to pick a chair, especially if you’ve got the chance to physically browse through your options, we highly recommend that you try sitting on the ones you’re considering before making the final purchasing decision. A chair with an adjustable height lever that lets you pull up to your desk and settle at a comfortable height for typing away at your laptop or going through a handful of documents is imperative to ensuring your comfort and a healthy posture.
The trick is to make sure that when seated, with your spine aligned to the backrest, your feet are able to touch the ground without dangling or without your knees hunching up. A chair that lets you sit with your knees bent at a ninety-degree angle and feet planted firmly on the ground keeps unnecessary pressures and strain off your lower back and joints, prevents nerves from getting pinched up and maintains easier blood circulation than possible if you were sitting scrunched up in your chair.
Straight-backed chairs, or even the funky shapes of many statement items better suited for the occasional couple of minutes of sitting rather than prolonged periods, are just not the right pick for ensuring proper spine health. Chairs with lower back support are imperative to make sure all those hours of sitting don’t wind up putting pressure on your spine as it works double-time to hold you up, putting strain on the vertebrae, nerves and joints around that area and risking exacerbating existing back conditions, or acting as a catalyst leading to them. Often, a padded backrest helps maintain the natural curvature of your spine and takes the weight and pressure off your lower back, giving you the right support to sit comfortably without putting any undue strain that might lead to eventual cases of backpain or arthritis.
Now, there are some great ergonomic office chairs that skip the armrests altogether, but if you have the option, we’re firmly on team armrest over here. After all, you’re going to want to rest your shoulders and arms after all that typing and writing you’ll find yourself doing at your desk, and armrests of the proper height go a long way in contributing toward proper upper body posture.
With your arms laid across them, your shoulders should not be hunched or drooping but instead maintain their straight and natural line, so you can bid adieu to any neck and shoulder pains from sitting too long hunched over the keyboard. Armrests are also a welcome respite if you experience conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, which necessitate resting your arms and wrists at intervals between activities like typing so you don’t wind up hurting or straining yourself.
Taking occasional breaks and letting your back rest a little is an important part of maintaining proper spinal health, and a sturdy but responsive reclining backrest lets you do just that. Be it for a couple of minutes in between firing off emails or the time you take out to receive a phone call, a chair that lets you tip back a little and lets your spine and body rest and relax for a while is a blessing, keeping you energized by letting your bones and joints catch a break from all that time spent sitting and putting pressure on them.
From leather to plastic, there are plenty of materials office chairs are made of or upholstered with. But picking the right material for you and your intended space goes a long way toward ensuring long-term functionality and comfort. You’ll find many options upholstered with highly durable nylon or polyester, both extremely wear and tear resistant, as well as easier to clean up and comfy while being breathable. Speaking of breathability, if your workspace is somewhere warm, you might even want to consider a mesh seat, structured to enable the right ventilation so you don’t find yourself stewing in your chair as you work away.
In fact, if your office or workspace leans toward warmer temperatures, we’d also recommend you steer clear of leather, real and synthetic – while a leather office chair would look classy and professional, it’s more likely than not going to leave you overheated if your workspace is not a naturally cool or constantly air-conditioned room. Leather also requires maintenance to keep the material supple, properly cleaned out and conditioned from time to time to keep it from cracking, so you’d have to factor in whether you’re ready to put in the work to maintain your leather office chair into the purchasing decision.
A good swivel chair is a great feature in an office seat, since it improves your reach and dexterity greatly without forcing you to do any potentially harmful gymnastics trying to reach a binder you left at the other end of the desk. A chair with a smooth swivel feature lets you rotate and access different parts of your desk or the surrounding environment more conveniently, and convenience is after all a prime factor in any ideal workspace. It’s important that you ensure the swivel features (and the caster wheels, if your chair is of the rolling variety) aren’t jerky or unstable before you make your purchase.