HEALTH: Top 5 tips for selecting an office chair

Community Health May 9, 2014 at 3:25 pm

HEALTH-Top-5-tipsDr. George I. Traitses

When shopping for the best ergonomic office chair, getting a chair that fits your unique needs should be the top priority. Not every chair labeled “ergonomic” has all the adjustment features necessary to truly be ergonomic. Here are the top 5 things you need to consider to help you make a better selection.

Seat pan comfort and shape

When you sit in the chair the seat pan should be at least one inch wider than your hips and thighs on either side. The seat pan should not be too long for your legs otherwise it will either catch you behind the knees or it will prevent you from leaning fully back against the lumbar support. Most ergonomic chairs have a seat pan with a waterfall front that prevents the seat from catching you behind the knees. The seat pan should also be contoured to allow even weight distribution and it should be comfortable to sit on.

Think adjustable

Always ensure that your chair is pneumatically adjustable so that you can adjust seat pan height while you are sitting on the chair. You should be able to adjust the height of the seat pan so that the front of your knees is level or slightly below level and your feet are firmly on the ground. In most cases there should be no need for you to use a footrest. The mechanism to adjust seat height should be easy to reach and operate when you are seated.

Lumbar support is key

Many chairs have cushioned lumbar supports that can be adjusted up and down and forwards and backwards to best fit your shape. If the chair will be used by multiple users then this level of adjustment may be required. However if you are the primary user of the chair then a fixed lumbar support may be acceptable, if it feels comfortable.

Don’t forget about the hips

A chair that doesn’t provide enough hip room can make you sit too far forwards on the seat pan, which doesn’t provide so that you will not have enough thigh support.

Have a long-term strategy

Think about how the chair will feel after 60 or 120 minutes. Low-density foam seat pans can become permanently deformed after long term use which can affect cushioned support leading to discomfort, imbalance and hip and back fatigue. And one bonus tip!

Chair covers 101

There is a whole range of upholstery materials available, each of which has benefits and concerns. Vinyl and vinyl-like coverings are easy to clean and spill resistant, but they don’t breathe and if the chair begins to heat up under the thighs uncomfortable amounts of moisture can accumulate. Cloth upholstery is the most common covering, but this is less resistant to spills and more difficult to clean. A cloth covered seat pan can also become warm and moisture laden, and cloth covered foam seat pans can be a significant source of dust mite allergen. When selecting your chair covering think about cleaning and maintenance issues and plan appropriately.

For more information on health and safety visit the Ontario Chiropractic Association, a voluntary professional association whose mission is to serve our members and the public by advancing the understanding and use of chiropractic care. www.chiropractic.on.ca or call 1877-327-2273.