Dictionary.com describes the term “ergonomic” as “an applied science focused on creating and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.” Basically, which means that ergonomically made items are specially designed for comfort and productivity. Ergonomic office chairs aren’t any different. They are different from regular office seats as ergonomic seats are built for optimum comfort and efficiency. Standard office chairs may not have some ergonomic attributes like armrests, adjustable height, lower back support, etc. Simply speaking, ergonomic chairs are going to have a higher level of adjustability versus a typical office seat.
Why are ergonomic chairs important? Well, whenever you take a seat and add up the length of time you might be seated in the chair, it becomes very important. According to OHSA, a typical office based employee, working a 40 hour week, will spend 25-30 hours in a seated position. Over a 12 month period of time, that’s over 1500 hours in a seated position at work. That amount of time in a seated position puts a considerable amount of force on the lumbar area of your spine.
There are a number of different ergonomic capabilities that enhance the fit and comfort of a seat. Functions like back support, arm rests, chair height, and chair angle come together to support your body. If all those features and terms have your head spinning, I’d suggest that you focus on ride height and back support as your primary focus. Having a variable ride height allows you to set the chair height to your personal needs and wants. The height that you choose will also impact the angle of your lower back so it’s imperative that you try different heights. Back support plays a critical role in your long term comfort. Look for a chair with variable back support, which is also commonly called “lumbar” support in reference to the lumber area of your spine. You can also make use of the tilt function on your seat to recline yourself slightly, which will take additional pressure off your spine.
I understand that all these functions can be confusing when it actually comes down to making a decision, so it’s worth your time to understand what ergonomic features are really crucial. Your level of comfort and health can play a direct role in your production and overall success, so take the time to review your options.