‘Ergonomics’ is a growing and buzzing topic these days, with more and more people being conscious about the environment they spend their most time in! Ergonomics is basically the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. Recent studies show more and more number of employees in offices are suffering from back, neck and shoulder complaints caused as a result of sitting and postural-related issues.
Regarding a chair, it is safe to presume that one size of chair doesn’t fits all. Ergonomic chairs are usually customized products according to a user’s preference, perfecting to an individual’s specification, allowing a higher degree of adjustability, to help the user focus more on the task/work.
So, just what really is an ergonomic chair?
An Ergonomic Chair, that is one that not only follows best practices in terms of proven ergonomic design, but is highly adjustable to cater to different people and sitting positions. They aim at making the everyday table/office work more convenient, minimizing health hazards, reducing psychological stress buy giving the users adjustable options.
What does an ‘ergonomic’ chair consist of?
The ergonomic measurement that a chair has in today’s market is generally adjustability. The higher the aspects of adjustability, the chair is considered more ergonomic. The major pin-points to be considered while buying an ergonomic chair narrows down to the following points:
- Materials used
- Weight Capacity
- Presence or Absence of Head-rest
Some of the basic requirements of an ergonomic chair in today’s market are:
Adjustable Seat Height
A typical ergonomic chair will have a gas lift, that can be used to adjust the seat height. The most appropriate seating height will let your fore-arms be in line with your desk, and your foot touching the ground. In this position, you knees will presume a 90 degree bending angle too. In case, if your foot doesnot reach the ground considering other requirements, you might need a footrest.
To check your chair’s seat height,
For this, you can simply measure the length from the top of your knees to the sole of your feet, and tally it with the seat and the base of the chair. In case this doesn’t work, you can stand straight in front of your chair and adjust its height so the top of the seat is just below your knee cap. This is your appropriate seat height.
Arms are undeniably the most in use when you are doing any kinds ot table/ office works. This demands for a robust arm support which can be crucial to offset or relay the load from our neck, upper back and shoulders when seated.
The minimal arm-rest requirement is that it should be height adjustable. It should let you raise your arms till the height of the desk (normally 28″ to 30″). This will let you place your arms parallel to the desk while performing tasks like typing. Armrests should alse let you adjust in a way that there is a flexible 90 degree angle through the forearm, when the shoulders and upper back are relaxed.
Presence of armrests in your chair can completely change your working experience. Some Ergonomic armrests have an option of width adjustment, which lets the users customize how close the arms can be to the body. Some even let the top of the armrest swivel, letting you sit as close to the working desk as possible. Similarly, some armrests have the feature to be lowered, that will you that can be lowered enough to tuck the chair away. This works great if you have a short of space.
Backrest angle adjustment
In contrast to a bench or any conventional chair, having a sturdy upright backrest, ergonomic chairs come with adjustable back rest angles. This will allow the user’s hips to open up and reduce the pressure on your lower back and pelvis area while sitting.
There are two ways in which you can change the backrest angle. It is either by tilting ot by reclining. Tilting is most widely found and used and igts ergonomically safe too, in comparison to reclining.
In tilting mechanism,
The backrest angle varies as a result of the swivel action through the pivot located directly beneath the chair’s seat. This lets you change both the seat and the backrest’s angle in unison. Among the several tilting sub-mechanisms, synchro-tilting is widely used. This tilts the backrest and seat at the ratio of 2:1, putting your lower back and pelvis at ease. This still keeps your line of sight to remain exactly horizontal even when you lean back.
Tilting is proven effective for people who sit on their desks all day, by providing micro movements to the back plus absorb the back pressure. A tilt-locking feature should also be present in an ergonomic chair to lock the chair in the desired tilting angle of the user.
In reclining mechanism,
In contrast to the previously explained tilting mechanism with the pivit underneath the chair, reclining is limited toi backrest only, completely independent of the seat. This results in a greater formed angle , with some of them going to as far as 180 degrees, parallel to the floor, nearly resembling a bed.
An ergonomic chair with a reclining backrest angle adjustment is suitable for you If you like to assume a near horizontal posture while working from time to time., if you sustain any sorts of back injury or pain and need to lay down frequently. This chair is also most suitable to position your sitting stature at an angle of 135 degrees, considered the most appropriate to induce the least stress on the back.
Backrest Height Adjustment
A backrest height adjustment is a prerequisite for an ergonomic chair. Height adjustability feature in backrests mproves the chance that the backrest fitting the curvature of your spine properly, by moving it to the exact height where your back needs support.
Adjustable Lumbar Support
The most common type of pain from continuous sitting in an office setting is the lumbar pain, which includes lower back and the pelvic region. Hence, a good lumbar support turns out to be critical.
The types of lumbar support are basically of three types: The fixed lumbar support, adjustable lumbar support and the dynamic lumbar support.
Fixed Lumbar supports are fixed on the backrest. Adjustable, as the name suggests can be adjusted in terma of height, depth angle. Dynamic, however doesnot need manual adjustment and can adjust automatically to your body structure.
While the dynamic ones sound a lot easier and modern, that might not always be the right fit for you. Any purchase of an ergonomic chair, it is best to visit the store, if possible, and practically check the chair on whether its the perfect fit for you.
Adjustable Seat Depth
Seat depth is also a crucial requirement for a chair to be ergonomic. It is advised to always maintain a 1-2 inch gap between the seat’s edge to your thigh, irrespective to the shape of your body, size and the position you are sitting in. This will help to prevent the possibility of cutting off blood circulation to your legs (if the depth is too deep), or applying excessive pressure to your knees (if the depth is too shallow).
In order to calculate the ideal seat depth for your body, first you need to normally sit in a chair, then measure the distance between end of your tailbone to your inner thighs. From this distance calcuylation, then remove 1-2″ to obtain the perfect seat depth. This calculation will always ensure to make a 1-2 inch gap between the seat’s edge to your thigh.
Presence of Neck Support
Neck is directly connected to your shoulders which works alongside arms. A bad sitting position will thus, not only cause pain in the arms but neck region as well. For some people, use of headrest can restrict the upper body’s movement, including even normal stretching which will worsen the situation of bad posturing.
The most common material for an ergonomic chair is mesh. It is soft to sit on and doesn’t sag a lot in case of heavy load too. It is flexible, breathable, and easy for cleaning. Although lacks the softness of fabric or leather, it is perfect for living in hot weather conditions.
Leather is also a good material option for chairs, as it comes in varieties, ranging from bonded, faux to genuine leather. Genuine leather stands atop all these as it’s more breathable, durable (if maintained properly), and hypoallergenic, however the cost is much higher than the others.
Fabrics can also be considered as a good option, that generally has properties between mesh and leather.
The first requirement is the the seat of the chair should be very appropriate to your body type, being able to hold your weight properly. In terms of shape and design, it is better to opt for a seat with a waterfall edge. This kind of design relieves pressure on the back of the thighs, sidewise promoting blood circulation towards the lower limbs as well.
So, do you really need an ergonomic chair?
Even more if you have to sit at your little desk all day for works, study, streaming or any other activities. The main function of the ergonomic chair is to improve your sitting posture while sitting. And, in order to improve this posture, it provides support to the spine, align shoulders, spine, and hips. The adjustability in these chairs help you acquire the most comfortable and natural position for your body, infact any body types! As a result of a better posture and a better blood circulation, the productivity, creativity and a vigor to work is increased.
So, if these many benefits are under a single purchase why not buy it? A little skeptical decision at first, but once you start to work in an ergonomic chair, you can never go back!