Best office chair for arthritis

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Top 16 Best Ergonomic Office Chairs

If you’re in a hurry, check out our top pick, Gesture by Steelcase. Check Price on Amazon

If there is anyone factor that you can change to make spending eight hours a day in an office easier, it’s your chair.

There is no shortage of evidence proving that being stuck in a chair for too long can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and worsen back pain. In fact, sitting too much is even called worse than smoking.

Many people who have office jobs develop problems like numbness, spinal misalignment, joint pain, neck pain, and herniated discs — usually from sitting too long on a poor quality chair without support.

While you probably do not want to spend a lot of money on a chair, a high-quality ergonomic chair is an investment in your health, comfort, and productivity.

QUICK OVERVIEW: THE BEST ERGONOMIC OFFICE CHAIRS

BEST FOR BACK PAINEmbody Chair by Herman Miller CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
BEST UNDER $1000Steelcase Gesture Chair CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
TOP PICK9to5 Executive Ergonomic Chair CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
APTA ENDORSEDHaworth Zody chair CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
BEST UNDER $800Steelcase Leap Fabric Chair CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
BEST UNDER $500Sayl Chair by Herman Miller CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON

Two separate studies, published in 1990 and 2003, found productivity goes up more than 17% when individuals work in an ergonomic setting with an adjustable chair. The right chair combined with ergonomic training can also reduce workplace injuries. Even if you do not already have wrist or back problems, an ergonomic chair can help you maintain the right posture to avoid strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back pain, and spinal disc injury.

The National Institute of Health recommends choosing a chair with all of the necessary adjustments to support proper posture.

This includes a chair with casters and a five-point base; a seat pan with dense, small-cell foam padding or coils; a backrest that is either curved or small enough to fit the small of the back; soft armrests with an adjustable height and width; a hydraulic seat heat adjustment feature; and a tilt adjustment to transfer some bodyweight to the chair’s backrest.

1. Embody Chair by Herman Miller

If you’re not working with a budget, why not get the very best? The Embody Chair by Herman Miller is the first chair made with a health-positive design. It was designed by Bill Stumpf, who created the original Aeron chair, and Jeff Weber with a goal of supporting healthy circulation and making sitting for hours a day easier on the back and spine.

Physicians and engineers were also consulted to create the specifications for the Embody, which features a unique exposed exoskeleton made to mimic the human spine.

The chair’s back moves with you throughout the day, keeping your spine in alignment and supporting the lower back, all without any adjustments on your part.

This chair is so amazing, in fact, that it has won several awards, including the prestigious Silver award from NeoCon and a Best of Tech award.

Pros

  • Aluminum base makes it lightweight and yet extremely durable
  • Adjustable arms
  • Comes in over a dozen colors
  • Designed by physicians to help ensure proper ergonomics
  • Pixelated support
  • Adjusts easily to better fit the contour of your back and spine

Cons

  • Chair is rather pricey, so represents a larger monetary investment
  • No individual head or neck support

If you are looking for an ergonomic chair that will fit in your budget, here are our picks for the 10 best ergonomic office chairs for your work space to counteract neck and lower back pain and help you stay comfortable and productive.

Best Ergonomic Office Chairs for Lower Back Pain

An ergonomic office chair can do wonders to alleviate lower back pain that can affect you long after you leave work for the day. If you already suffer from back pain, it’s important to understand that long hours in a chair compress the discs in your lower back, which eventually begin to wear down and cause sharp or chronic pain.

This pain can be severe enough to affect your mobility for the rest of your life. The good news? It’s never too late to treat the problem and give your aching back the support it needs.

The following chairs are the highest-rated options for every budget to free you from long days of an aching back and help you concentrate on work — then forget about the day at the office when it’s time to go home.

Best Ergonomic Office Chair under $1000

2. Steelcase Gesture Chair

The award-winning Gesture chair from Steelcase is one of the finest ergonomic chairs money will buy.

This revolutionary new office chair is designed to accommodate a variety of natural body positions and sizes, all while supporting and protecting the back and neck.

Gesture uses exclusive LiveBack technology that automatically adjusts to your body, mimicking the natural movement of your spine and neck.

The armrests on the chair have been especially designed to allow for a variety of postures. One of the problems with many office chairs is that they simply don’t offer much freedom of movement.

However, the human body naturally changes positions on a regular basis to keep comfortable. By placing the armrests further back, it accommodates this natural restlessness, offering you more positions where you can be supported.

The arms can also swivel with 360 degrees of motion, literally supporting your arms in any possible position.

Not only can you adjust the height of the chair, but you can also adjust the tension it offers your back. This can help make the chair firmer or softer, supporting you no matter how your body feels on any particular day.

Gesture won the Neocon Gold award in 2013 and is available in eight different colors, so you can always feel good about how your chair looks as well as how it functions.

Pros

  • Sleek design looks great in any office
  • Award-winning construction
  • The steel construction makes this an extremely durable chair
  • Comes with 100% Steelcase warranty
  • Arms can not only be extended up and down but in and out, to allow for better arm placement, regardless if torso width
  • Core equalizer provides excellent lumbar support

Cons

  • Chair is heavy (over 70 pounds), so lifting the chair and moving it to different rooms may be difficult for some individuals
  • Higher price point may make it too expensive for some consumers

3. Herman Miller Aeron Chair

The Herman Miller Aeron Chair has developed quite a following over the years as the chair that started the ergonomic craze. The chair was designed for Herman Miller by Don Chadwick and Bill Stumpf and it was the very first to feature a woven seat and back without foam cushions.

The Aeron is based on the biomorphic principles of the body for ultimate comfort. It also helps combat lower back pain in particular with a high back and a head cushion that allows you to rest your head while still maintaining correct posture. The Aeron chair is available in sizes A, B, and C, each of which is created to give you the most adjustable and comfortable experience.

Pros

  • Offers excellent back support for the price
  • Chair conforms to the shape of the user each and every time
  • Professional look
  • Arms are fully adjustable and height can be raised and lowered easily
  • Patented Kinemat tilt will move with the natural pivot points of your body to provide improved comfort, no matter how you move

Cons

  • No dedicated neck support
  • Arms are made from vinyl, which can become sticky for individuals who sweat a good amount (or for hot/humid locations)

4. Haworth Zody chair

As popular as the Aeron chair is, it does have competition with the Haworth Zody chair. The Zody chair is the only chair to ever get an endorsement from the American Physical Therapy Association. As you may expect, this chair puts function over form. The chair isn’t unattractive — in fact, Haworth commisioned the German design company Ito design for assistance — but its focus on science and ergonomics is what sets it apart.

The Zody chair features a unique asymmetrical adjustment system designed with the University of Michigan’s Human Performance Institute, which allows you to target problem areas like the lower back and make the chair conform to your body. This chair also gets high praise for its passive pelvic support that helps you maintain corrrect spinal alignment. This simple pad helps you maintain the natural curvature at the small of your back to make lower back pain a thing of the past.

If you prefer to recline, an optional headrest is available. While the chair’s main selling features are its passive pelvic support and ability to adjust the lumbar for the left and right side of the back independently, you also have the standard chair adjustments. This includes adjusting tilt, arm rest width and height, seat height, and tension. This video gives you a full introduction to the Zody chair. Pros

  • Higher back design extends all the way up to your shoulders
  • Adjustable arms and seat height allows you to customize the chair to your needs
  • Excellent padding helps ease tension on the lower back and gluteus

Cons

  • No dedicated neck support
  • Largely made from plastic

Best Ergonomic Office Chair under $800

5. Steelcase Leap Fabric Chair

Not everyone can afford to spend $1000 or more on a chair. That doesn’t mean you should have to settle for an inferior product. In fact, the Leap Fabric Chair is the best selling ergonomic chair Steelcase produces. This means you can be confident that you are purchasing a reliable and comfortable product.

One of the best features of this chair is Steelcase’s patented LiveBack technology. That means that this chair actually conforms to the shape of your back, offering much-needed support and keeping you comfortable for longer periods of time than ever before. The chair also glides to accommodate your posture as you change position or recline, helping to keep your work in focus while helping your back and neck stay comfortable and pain-free.

Not only does the Leap Chair conform to your body and move with you in ways no other chair does, it is also sustainably produced. No less than 30% of the chair is made from recycled materials, and over 90% of the chair is recyclable, meaning that when this chair does finally give out, the materials can be reused, providing very limited environmental fallout.

Every part of the chair is flexible, from the upper back to the lower back, the arms to the edge of the seat, from the height of the seat to its depth. Each chair allows full optimization so that every user can enjoy the same support and comfort as their coworkers. For the price, there is simply no better office chair.

Pros

  • Liveback design helps mimic the curve of your spine, offering a comfortable sitting experience while reducing back strain
  • Adjustable arms and seat height
  • The chair will shift with your back as you tilt back
  • Chair is made from 30 percent recycled material
  • Firmness of the lower back can be increased or decread to offer you the support you want
  • Chair will change its contour shape to better fit the need of each user, which makes it a great conference room chair (or where shared chairs are used)

Cons

  • Base is made from (heavy-duty) plastic, which isn’t as durable as some of the metal options out there.

Best Ergonomic Office Chair under $500

6. Sayl Chair by Herman Miller

Herman Miller is responsible for the first ergonomic chair, and this high-end brand is known for producing some of the best chairs in the world.

The Herman Miller Sayl Chair is the brand’s most affordable office chair, which already puts it a cut above most chairs in this price range. Designed by Yves Behar, the Sayl chair comes in many colors and it’s made in the United States from recyclable materials.

This beautiful “life unframed” chair combines ergonomics with design and superior engineering with two unique innovations: the Y-Tower and ArcSpan. Behar was inspired by the Golden Gate bridge and its ability to carry massive loads. This inspiration is clear in the design.

The Y-Tower feature is the backbone of the chair, stretching the fabric while offering support. The ArcSpan provides shape to the back while anchoring the unique suspension fabric in place.

As it’s the most budget-friendly Herman Miller chair available, it doesn’t have many of the adjustaments and other features you get from most models with this brand, but it will still impress.

Pros

  • Unique looking chair. Is both a head turner and offers excellent comfort for the price
  • Comes in a number of color options so you can customize the look of your office
  • Excellent design for warmer weather climates or for individuals who experience back sweat when sitting for longer periods of time
  • Official Amazon’s Choice recipient
  • 3D Intelligent Back with conform to you personally in order to offer better support for each user.
  • Seat is adjustable and raises between 15.5 and 20 inches in height
  • Chair uses no PVC and nearly all of the materials used are recycled.

Cons

  • Doesn’t include dedicated head/neck rest (although a secondary neck rest can be purchased)

Best Ergonomic Office Chair under $300

7. Serta Mid-Back Office Chair

While best known for their mattresses, Serta has moved into ergonomics with the Serta Back in Motion Health and Wellness office chair. This reasonably priced chair has the look and feel of a high-end brand with deep, ergo-layered body pillows that offer the perfect combination of comfort and support.

The chair is made from eco-friendly bonded leather with a BIM Active lumbar that pivots as you move for continuous lumbar support. Adjust the height of the padded armrests with the push of a button, and use the convenient cable actuated levers to control the lift and lock-out features.

The Serta Back in Motion chair also offers unique posture-correcting tilt technology that actually tilts your pelvis forward when you lean. This keeps your back in a beneficial neutral position to avoid pressure on your discs and promote spinal movement. After a few days, you’ll start to feel the benefits of a comfortable and supportive seat that can get you through your long workday

Pros

  • Excellent looking office chair that comes with significant padding
  • Comes in a number of leather color options to better fit the look of your office
  • “Back In Motion Technology” offers the ability to pivot the lower back forward to help with the pelvis position, keeping your back in a neutral position
  • Cushioned body pillows and cushioned headrest
  • Made by the same company best known for pillow and mattress design

Cons

  • Not the best chair style for someone who sweats as there is no air circulation in the back of the chair
  • The leather padding can wear off and strip off the chair after prolonged use

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Best Ergonomic Office Chair under $200

8. Alera Elusion Swivel Chair

Welcome to comfort with the Alera Elusion swivel chair. This is the most well-reviewed chair in this price range with an ergonomic design and a breathable mesh back to keep you cool and comfortable all day long. Unlike many chairs at this price, the Alera chair offers a contoured seat cushion with a waterfall edge and premium upholestery that helps take pressure off your legs, while the supportive back encourages proper posture to alleviate lower back pain.

The Alera chair lacks many of the adjustment features of more expensive chairs, but you can adjust the tilt tension, seat height, and arm height and width to adjust the chair to your body. This chair was designed to give you a professional, efficient working environment at a good price, and it certainly delivers. This video walks you through the features of the Elusion series office chairs.

Pros

  • Affordable office chair
  • Mesh backing allows for improved air-flow, which is helpful for anyone who deals with back sweat at the office
  • Easy to adjust the height of the seat and the arms
  • Contoured seat with waterfall edge allows for improve seating comfort

Cons

  • No dedicated neck support
  • Arms do not extend out like other chairs so this may not work for wider girth individuals (although the arms can be completely removed if needed)
  • Support only goes to about the mid-back (depending on height)

Best Ergonomic Office Chair under $100

9. Mid-Back Mesh Chair by Flash Furniture

The Flash Furniture Mid-Back Mesh Chair is a rare find: a well-reviewed, comfortable chair that fits any budget. This chair features a sturdy five-wheel base with a mesh ergonomically contoured back that gives you the support you need to get through a full day of work. One of the most surprising things about this chair is the fact that it’s actually sized well for larger people taller than six feet, which is a rare find in an office chair priced under $100.

Pros

  • Extremely affordable chair
  • Comes in a number of color options (both bold and traditional)
  • Official Amazon’s Choice recipient
  • While mid-back is the highlighted option, a “High Back” chair is available
  • Back is made out of a mesh material that allows for improved air-flow
  • Built-in lumbar support system

Cons

  • Arms can be removed but are not as adjustable (in height) as other chairs on the list
  • Fewer adjustable features
  • No dedicated neck support
  • Curve in the seat may not be as comfortable for wider girth individuals

Best Ergonomic Office Chairs for Neck Pain

Chronic neck pain is a common complaint among people who spend hours a day in a chair, either bent over paperwork or working in front of a monitor. The right ergonomic chair can help correct poor posture by supporting spine health. The best office chair for neck pain offers support for the spine and, most importantly, adjustable height and tilt to avoid craning your neck to see a computer screen.

10. White Ergonomic Genuine Leather Chair by GM Seating

The White Ergonomic Leather Office chair has a very unique style that quickly sets it apart from the pack. Combining the ergonomics with luxurious genuine leather makes it the right pick for your office.

It is fully adjustable with features like seat slide adjustment, tilt tension, headrest heigh and angle adjustment for those suffering neck pain.

The 3D armrest also has adjustable height and can be moved forward or backward to suit your sitting style.

The distinctive design offers support to both back with unique lumbar support system and neck with height adjustable backrest.

Pros

  • Exceptional look that makes the chair look like it’s from the future
  • Dedicated neck support built in (most chairs require this as a separate purchase)
  • Extremely affordable chair that uses genuine leather (calf skin)
  • Armrests are adjustable both sideways and in height
  • Comes in three colors

Cons

  • Leather is thinner and may scrape (although comes with 5-year limited warranty)
  • Unique lumbar support system may not work for extremely tall individuals (the lumbar support may end up located too low for them)
  • Made with thicker material so back ventilation is limited

11. Ergohuman by Eurotech

Another great option is the Ergohuman chair by Eurotech Seating. Right away, you’ll notice the unique design of this chair, which features eight ergonomic adjustments to keep your neck and back aligned all day long.

The Ergohuman has breathable mesh to promote circulation with the ability to adjust the back angle and height, tilt lock, tilt tension control, synchro tilt, arm height, and seat depth and height.

The headrest adjusts up and down so you can position it to hit your neck perfectly, with a curvature that supports your head and neck when you lean back.

Pros

  • Mesh backing and seating for the best ventilation
  • Dedicated neck rest
  • Official Amazon’s Choice recipient
  • Comes in a number of colors
  • Fully adjustable (including adjustable lumbar support

Cons

  • Price might be higher than what some want to spend

12. Balt Butterfly Executive Chair

You may also appreciate the unique features of the Balt Butterfly Executive Chair, which offers a mesh back that includes angle and tilt adjustment.

The chair’s back is perfectly contoured to provide natural lumbar support, while the curved headrest can be adjusted by both height and angle to give you the proper neck support whether you are upright or reclining in the chair. The arm rests also pivot and adjust by height so you can work in a variety of work spaces. Pros

  • Made from mesh to allow for improved air flow
  • Dedicated neck support
  • Fully adjustable

Cons

  • No color options

13. 9to5 Executive Ergonomic Office Chair with Headrest

Whether it is checking emails, filling out expense reports or designing the next marketing plan for your company, you want a chair that you can last on for the whole day.

There’s nothing worse than plunking down a good amount of money for an office chair and discover it can’t adjust to your size requirements.

This is why 9to5 by Humano is the best ergonomic chair you can get for the price. It is the only chair in this category that has all the features of big-name brands e.g. You can raise the height of the seat, so feet are right on the ground, arms can be adjusted to fit the best height, and even the seat depth will conform to your own comfort requirements.

Possibly the best-selling factor on the chair is the adjustable neck brace. The headrest is an actual attachment on the top of the chair. You can adjust it to best fit where your own neck and head come in contact.

The mesh backing of the chair helps aid in its comfort level as well. If you spend more than just a few hours sitting at a time, your back pressed against fake leather or fabric is not good for letting your skin breathe. You already know what this problem is like if you’ve ever suffered from back sweat at work.

With the Full Mesh High Back Executive Manager Office Chair, the entire back is made from a clear mesh material. This allows air flow to circulate around your back and neck, keeping you not only comfortable but dry throughout the workday.

Pros

  • Great looking chair
  • Mesh backing allows for improved air flow
  • Dedicated neck rest
  • Fully adjustable seat and arms
  • Comes with a 100% money back guarantee

Cons

  • Only available in white/gray design

14. Viva Office Mesh High Back Chair

The Viva Office Mesh High Back office chair is the perfect blend of features and price. The chair has an ergonomic mesh back that avoids excessive heat and moisture build-up, along with pneumatic height adjustment and adjustable armrests. The headrest is fully adjustable so you can periodically lean back to rest your head and neck as you work.

The Viva Office chair is one of the few ergonomic chairs at this price range that works for people who are taller than six feet.

Pros

  • Seat back is made of a mesh material to allow for improved air flow
  • Dedicated neck/head rest
  • Adjustable lumbar support, as well as seat height and armrests
  • Tilt and tension control features

Cons

  • Max weight is 250 pounds, so it may not work as a chair for some individuals
  • Does use a large amount of PVC and other plastics
  • While the back is made with a mesh material the seat is not

15. The Walker Adjustable Office Chair

The “Walker” adjustable office chair by The Green Group is hard to beat in its price range. The “Walker” features 360-degree swivel motion with a stable five-wheel base and the ability to recline with the flip of a lever.

This chair was designed specifically to support the neck to avoid neck strain with a unique curved, adjustable headrest that supports your head and encourages proper alignment when you lean back. The padded headrest, arm rests, height, and lumbar support are all fully adjustable.

Pros

  • Back is made of a mesh material to allow for improved air flow
  • Dedicated head/neck rest
  • Arms and seat height are fully adjustable

Cons

  • Contour of the seat may not be comfortable for larger individuals
  • Lightweight design of the chair (around 20 pounds) can make it feel cheaper than other options

16. AmazonBasics Mid-Back Office Chair

Shopping for an office chair on a budget does not mean you need to sacrifice comfort and health. The AmazonBasics Mid-Back Office Chair features adjustable seat height that’s combined with an upholstered in black bonded leather and padded seat and back for all-day comfort. It has dual-wheel casters for easy movement and it is the best office chair you can get for under $100 by Amazon itself.

Pros

  • Leather-padded
  • Official Amazon’s Choice recipient
  • BIFMA certified
  • Adjustable seat height
  • Extremely affordable

Cons

  • Arms are not adjustable
  • Not made with a mesh material so air flow is limited
  • Seat padding is limited

Verdict

If you work on computer then you definitely need to invest an a good ergonomic chair. As discussed above, Herman Miller Chairs are top notch as they are backed by years of research and testing (see here) but if it is out of your range, we’ve covered a whole lot of others so make sure to keep this when making a purchase.

Do share in the comments below and let us know which chair you like the most. As always, your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Sitting kills. That’s the headline you’ve seen on news articles, books, and even research papers over the past few years. With the proliferation of standing desks—and even treadmill and cycling desks—people are treating sitting as “the new smoking.” In 2010, researchers published a study in Circulation that found sitting for just an hour increased one’s risk of all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality, and other studies have linked prolonged sitting to depression, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, muscle degeneration, soft bones, high blood pressure, poor circulation, disk compression, back pain, and even cancer. And a daily hour-long workout probably won’t save you, according to a 2015 article in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

We reviewed the scientific literature, spoke with experts, and assembled the definitive guide to choosing a chair that will keep you healthy, listed from worst to best. Plus, we outlined the ultimate daily office routine.

#5: The Stability Ball

When the stability ball became trendy in the mid-2000s, its supposed health benefits were based on two theories: Without a backrest, the user must sit upright with feet flat on the floor, ensuring proper posture and circulation. And second, because the ball is squishier than an office chair, you must engage your abdominal and back muscles to stay upright.

But the reality is that stability balls, when used in isolation, can do more harm than good. “I wouldn’t recommend sitting on a yoga ball for long,” says Jason Zhao, clinical director at Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy in Corvallis, Oregon. “It’s easier to lose good posture on these, and the increased muscle activation puts more pressure on the spine.”

#4: The Kneeling Chair

The kneeling chair—a stool-like structure that provides support for your forward-facing knees—was “trendy in the 1980s and 1990s, but they’ve fallen out of favor,” says Daniel Heller, a pain management physician at Blue Ridge Orthopaedic and Spine Center in Warrenton, Virginia. Claims that the downward-sloping seat and dropped-knee position rotate the pelvis forward and therefore align the spine in an ideal, natural S-shape were confirmed in a 1989 study. Like the stability ball, however, the kneeling chair will also cause more spinal shrinkage than a conventional chair and add pressure on certain spinal disks, even as it distributes your weight onto your knees and off the lumbar curve.

#3: The Standing Desk

Standing desks aren’t new: Ben Franklin, Virginia Woolf, Winston Churchill, and Ernest Hemingway used them. But recently they’ve been touted as a panacea to oversitting ills. Humans developed a lumbar curve because we’re bipedal, so working upright must be healthy, right? Well, it’s complicated.

Research shows that working upright can help correct poor posture and tone your stomach and legs, all without ruining your focus, as well as increase energy and reduce hunger. But being on your feet for too long poses its own risks: it inhibits proper circulation and adds pressure to your hips, legs, and spine, which damages joints and increases lower-back pain. And, unfortunately, research shows that sitting once or twice throughout the day won’t offer relief.

#2: The Saddle Stool

You know this style of seat—your dentist or doctor probably uses one. All things considered, the saddle stool is pretty great. The backless design increases muscle activation—much like a stability ball or kneeling chair—and the saddle will rotate your pelvis forward, which maintains the spine’s natural lumbar curve. Wheeled saddle stools are also the only chairs that effectively prevent slouching: because the stool is designed to be raised higher than a conventional chair or stool top and because the wheels give it mobility, leaning forward would launch the chair out from under you. Research shows that the saddle stool is also great at preserving the lumbar curve. The only downside: eight hours on a stool is pretty uncomfortable.

#1: The Ergonomic Office Chair

When you read something about how sitting is the new smoking, most of those articles reference the plain old office chair, which indeed is not great. Most scientific studies that praise the competition—stability ball, kneeling chair, saddle stool—compare it to standard office chairs as well. However, ergonomic models—which may look like a normal office chair but are customizable in various ways and are designed to support your lower back and promote good posture—are perhaps the healthiest way to spend the workday, especially when paired with short bouts of standing and walking.

Most office workers do not properly adjust their chair to fit their body, and a 2012 comprehensive scientific review on office chairs discovered that after volunteers were given an ergonomic model and instructions on correct posture and usage, like relaxing their shoulders and adjusting the seat according to their height, most of their previous musculoskeletal symptoms resolved.

Two trustworthy associations certify chairs as authentically ergonomic: the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) and the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA). Both calculate suitable shape via slightly different methods, so read up on their varying guidelines. Before purchasing a chair, make sure it’s HFES 100 or BIFMA G1 certified.

The Perfect Day

Despite the ergonomic chair’s many benefits, it’s not perfect, and spending too much time in one can, indeed, be as bad as smoking. That said, here’s what the ideal nine-to-five grind should look like.

Sit, Stand, Walk

Everything in moderation. Because the standing desk and chairs each have benefits and drawbacks, the key, experts say, is to alternate between standing and sitting. A height-adjustable desk or workspace converter is the perfect solution.

Research is ongoing as to how long you should sit or stand at work, but a recent comprehensive analysis says to stand for a total of two hours a day and slowly ramp up to four. The key is to accumulate those four hours in chunks. According to Alan Hedge, a professor of ergonomics at Cornell, the proper sit, stand, walk ratio for each half-hour of work is 20:8:2—sit for 20 minutes, stand for eight, and finish with a two-minute walk around the office. That rotation gives you the positive posture benefits of both sitting and standing without the painful consequences of doing either for a long time.

How to Sit

Buy a customizable, ergonomic office chair that has rests for your head and arms, plus plenty of lumbar support. Stay an arm’s length away from your computer monitor. The screen should be centered, just below eye level, and tilted slightly upward. This will keep your head and neck in position and reduce eye strain. Alternate between sitting at 90 degrees (upright) and 135 degrees (slightly reclined). “People don’t realize that leaning back in a chair is healthy. It take pressure off your spine,” says Zhao.

Keep your spine against the backrest, shoulders relaxed, and arms on the armrests. In addition to promoting good posture and decreasing musculoskeletal strain, this position will keep your chest open, which maximizes oxygen intake and therefore ensures good memory and circulation. Keep your feet flat on the floor with your thighs parallel to the ground. Don’t cross your legs—you won’t be in proper spinal alignment, and doing so also raises blood pressure.

How to Stand

When standing at your desk, raise the table or viewing stand so your screen is just below eye level. Stand erect with your legs, torso, and head in line; relax your shoulders; and keep your upper arms close to body.

How to Walk

During your two-minute walking breaks, head to the kitchen: an in-person conversation with your co-workers will boost natural levels of oxytocin—which keeps you happy and improves memory recall and learning—and reduce cortisol, a stress hormone. If you don’t like walking, force yourself: send your documents to a printer at the far side of the office. At noon, find a healthy lunch spot near a park: a longer walk through someplace green will buoy your mood.

Drink Lots of Water

Drinking four to six cups of water usually ensures hydration, which in turn regulates proper blood pressure and improves circulation and attention. It will also make you pee—another opportunity to walk.

Fidget

Contrary to what your teacher told you, fidgeting—like toe tapping and heel bouncing—is helpful. Jiggling will help burn 350 calories each day, reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by engaging your muscles, and improve lower-limb circulation. To stay focused, enhance creativity, and ease stress, try clicking your pen or tinkering with a slinky, a stress ball, or two small stones.

The Takeaway

“There’s a lot of good research about sitting and standing at work,” says M. Brennan Harris, an associate professor of kinesiology at the College of William and Mary. “There are a lot of gimmicks out there, but it comes down to movement and fit: get an ergonomic chair that fits you and get up out of it often. That’s really it.”

Filed To: Health and BeautyCoreExercisesWalkingScience Lead Illustration: Vinnie Neuberg

6 Best Ergonomic Office Chairs to Help You Work in Comfort

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You don’t have to have back problems in order to reap the benefits of ergonomic chairs. Anyone who spends a good portion of their day sitting at a desk will likely benefit from investing in one.

“A chair that is well-designed and appropriately adjusted is an essential element of a safe and productive computer workstation,” says the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. And who are we to argue with that?

Additionally those who feel neck, back, and shoulder strain, or who experiences numbness or swelling in their legs and feet after a long day of sitting, choosing from among the best office chairs to find the right ergonomic fit can make a big difference to comfort and the amount of pain one might experience.

“Since the chair has a direct influence on body alignment (posture), individuals suffering from musculoskeletal symptoms related to prolonged sitting are often advised to alter the chair of their workstations,” according to a meta-analysis of multiple studies that looked at the effectiveness of office chairs when it came to reducing musculoskeletal pain. The review paper was published in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders.

Features to Look for When Shopping for the Best Ergonomic Chairs

  • Lumbar Support The best ergonomic chairs have a backrest that conforms to your spine’s natural curves.
  • Adjustability Look for chairs that allow you to adjust the seat and back height, tilt angle, armrest height, and more, and find the most comfortable position for you.
  • Comfortable Armrests Though not all chairs have them, if armrests are included, they should be padded, and at the right height so that your shoulders are relaxed and elbows are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Material The best ergonomic chairs should have supportive padding that’s not too hard or soft, and breathable fabric that promotes circulation.
  • Design If you have to sit in an office chair all day, you might as well look good doing it. Luckily, some of the best ergonomic chairs also come in modern and classy designs and colors.

Types of Ergonomic Chairs

  • Office/Executive Chairs These are the most common, classic options – the typical office chairs on wheels that you’ll see in front of most desks.
  • Kneeling Chairs Just what it sounds like, these backless chairs aim to take pressure off of your spine.

Now that you understand some of the benefits of ergonomic chairs, it’s time to choose the right one for your needs. Explore our top six picks for the best ergonomic chairs for your home office.

Finding a chair

How high should my chair be?

Many people think they can only be comfortable in a low chair, but this isn’t always true. A high chair can be just as comfortable – and probably more so if you suffer from back pain. A higher chair makes getting up much easier, as you’re almost half-way up already.

Choose the highest chair you can that allows you to place your bare feet flat on the floor while sitting in it. This will stop your legs from dangling uncomfortably and causing pins and needles.

If you do find a chair you like but it’s the wrong height, you may be able to have it altered. Ask the shop assistant about this.

Are armrests important?

Painful joints can make it difficult to use the armrests on a chair. However, using the armrests can be as effective in helping you get up as having a higher chair. Look for:

  • a good handgrip – armrests are easier to grip if they’re made of wood and stick out a few inches, as this will allow you to wrap your fingers around the end
  • padding for comfort and warmth
  • the right height – if you have to hunch your shoulders when you rest your arms on the armrests, they’re too high, but if your elbows don’t reach then they’re too low.
  • the right length – if the armrests stick out too far beyond the front legs it can sometimes tip the chair up when you put your weight on it.

Getting up from a chair

The way you get up out of a chair makes a big difference. It’s easier if you tuck your feet back underneath you than if you place them out in front. This is because you can bring your weight over your feet more quickly. If you choose a chair that allows you to bring your feet back to get a better position you’ll be surprised how much easier it is to get up. When you’re looking for a new chair, check that it has space at the front beneath the seat.

Special chairs to help you stand up

Some people have great difficulty rising from even the perfect easy chair. Anyone who experiences this may find motorised chairs or spring-assisted seats useful:

  • Motorised chairs use an electric mechanism to lift the seat and bring you to a standing position. Make sure the chair still follows the other guidelines in this section and also complies with the British Standards Electrical Safety Standards.
  • Spring-assisted seats can be useful but often prove to be uncomfortable. They have to be adjusted to your weight, which is fine if you’re the only person to use the chair. Be careful if other people will also use it because it may cause someone to get seriously hurt if they happen to be much lighter than you.

Ergonomic Changes To Ease Arthritis At Work And Home

Ergonomics is defined as “fitting a job to a person.” In the case of someone with arthritis, this means finding ways to modify the workplace (and the home) to lessen the strain on arthritic joints and make life a little more comfortable.

The importance of workplace ergonomics is gaining increasing attention.

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Approximately nine million adults report having symptomatic knee osteoarthritis, while 13 million report symptomatic hand osteoarthritis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), arthritis is categorized as one of several work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

One of the best lifestyle changes for people with arthritis is to exercise. Activity aids in losing weight (or maintaining a healthy weight), in addition to strengthening bones and muscles. Getting up during work breaks or taking a walk after dinner can also prevent joints from stiffening up.

Getting a good, ergonomic, adjustable office chair can also have a big impact on arthritis pain.

An uncomfortable chair can spawn a backache in no time, even for people without arthritis, so take advantage of that adjustable chair. Ways to improve chair comfort include:

  • Get a swiveling, wheeled office chair to allow easy movement
  • Make sure the chair has a 5-point base to ensure stability
  • Get a chair with a height- and tilt-adjustable back that fits the lower back snugly
  • Consider getting a chair with a headrest
  • Adjust the arm height so arms are at a 90 degree angle when the wrists are resting on the desk
  • If buying a new chair, test it out, and don’t forget to check that all the adjustments are easy to do
  • Be sure that the chair fits properly

Adjusting the back, arms, and height of a chair is quite straightforward, but making sure that a chair fits properly isn’t so simple. Alan Hedge, PhD, professor of ergonomics and director of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Program at Cornell University, gives some advice about getting a chair that fits correctly at the Arthritis Foundation:

“For the right fit, Hedge advises using the 1-inch seat rule. When sitting back, there should be at least a 1-inch gap between the edge of the seat and the backs of your knees, and the seat of the chair should be at least 1-inch wider than your hips and thighs. The chair’s back should be wide enough for your back, but not too wide to restrict arm movements, such as reaching 90 degrees to your sides.”

Next make a few ergonomic changes to the desktop arrangement to further lessen arthritis pain.

Keeping the neck bent at an uncomfortable angle can exacerbate an arthritic neck, so make sure everything’s at eye-level. This could mean raising the computer monitor, perhaps by putting a monitor stand under it. Also consider getting a document-holder so paper documents are at eye-level, too.

The hands and wrists are often affected by arthritis, too. Putting the mouse and keyboard on an adjustable tray can ensure that they’re on the correct level. Try to adjust chair and keyboard height so that while working, the forearms are parallel to the floor. Keeping the mouse next to the keyboard, instead of on a higher surface, can make sure that it’s not necessary to reach or bend forward.

Additionally, a padded wrist rest can provide support. In addition to a tilted keyboard or stand, a wrist rest can keep the wrists comfortably straight. A keyboard that can be split and tented, or a contoured keyboard, can also help with this. If using a mouse causes arthritis pain, a trackball or touchpad can provide a good alternative.

MedicineNet.com has a very comprehensive list of potential problems and ergonomic solutions, complete with pictures, for those who aren’t sure what to do about a specific issue. Also, the Arthritis Foundation has a list of good products to check out, like ergonomic desk chairs, monitor stands, and document holders. Websites like Relax the Back or AliMed carry a wide variety of ergonomic office supplies. If buying a new chair is out of the question, consider using a small pillow or rolled towel to provide some lumbar support. Lots of office supply stores carry ergonomic cushions and inserts to provide lumbar support, too.

Changes at home can also make living with arthritis much easier.

Some of the same ergonomic tips utilized in the workplace can be applied at home, such as using a supportive chair. To make day-to-day chores simpler, identify activities that exacerbate arthritis pain. For example, if using a crank can opener makes an arthritic wrist twinge, get an electric can opener instead. If grasping a slick doorknob is difficult, add a doorknob cover or swap it for a lever-style doorknob.

Items with small handles can be problematic, so look for larger toothbrushes, hair brushes, silverware, razors, etc. Alternatively, look for cylindrical foam inserts that can be used to make handles larger. Using pots or pans with two handles instead of one can help, too, since this distributes the weight more evenly. When getting dressed, long-handled reachers, sock aids, long-handled shoe horns, or buttonhooks can spare a lot of bending and grasping. Raised toilet seats, higher chairs, or high seat cushions can make sitting and standing much easier.

Altering the way an everyday activity is performed can alleviate arthritis discomfort, too. If arthritis pain makes wrist movement uncomfortable, for instance, use the hand to grip items and then use gross movements of the elbow and shoulder to perform the action. Using this method, instead of bending the wrist when drinking from a glass, keep the wrist still and instead move the elbow and shoulder.

What ergonomic changes have you made to lessen your arthritis pain?

Image by Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr

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