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The act of sitting is straightforward: just bend the knees and lean back. While this seems too obvious to mention, sitting for long periods of time places enormous stress on the body. To ensure you are picking the right chair, we have researched several factors that outline the effectiveness and comfort of a quality chair.
First, one must ask themselves “What is an ergonomic chair?” Ergonomics relates to how a workspace is designed for both comfort and efficiency. A well-designed office chair is comfortable while also supportive of the body’s weight and posture. Let’s review the following factors to make sure you are choosing a chair built for exceptional ergonomics.
This adjustment should allow for a 90-degree bend in the legs when both feet are flat on the floor.
For most people, this is between 16 – 21 inches from the ground. If too high, circulation is cut off from the underside of the thighs; if too low, increased pressure will affect the hips and sitting bones.
To help keep nerves in the wrist healthy, the elbows should also be at a 90-degree angle when typing on a keyboard or resting on a desktop.
The depth usually ranges from 15 – 17 inches and is measured from the front to the back of the seat.
When a person’s bottom is firmly against the backrest, the backs of the knees should extend 2 – 4 inches beyond the seat.
If the seat depth does not allow for the 2 -4 inches, numbness of the legs may occur. If the seat extends beyond 4 inches, the legs may not have enough support which can lead to slouching.
Lumbar or Lower Back Support
The lumbar spine has an inward curve that flattens when sitting for long periods, which can eventually weaken the lower spine. The lumbar support allows the lower back to arch slightly into its normal curve, minimizing the strain on the lumbar discs in the spine.
Now that we have covered the basics of choosing an ergonomic chair, we can move on to the materials. The materials chosen are also important when evaluating a chair’s comfort. The best materials are breathable; a priority when working at a desk for most of the day. You also want to research materials that flow with your workplace environment, not take away or potentially damage your space.
A top contender in office chair materials is mesh. It is the most breathable option; letting enough airflow through to keep the worker comfortable. Mesh is versatile because it can be stretched over a chair frame or used to cover cushions. Choosing a quality mesh will evenly distribute a person’s weight and will not split or fray.
This material can be combined with a mesh back and used on a cushion. This fiber is breathable and comfortable but can be difficult to clean. A stain resistant application can help with this.
Knitted fiber is similar to woven fibers as it is also breathable and comfortable. Knitted material is easier to clean than woven fabric and a thick knitted material over a foam cushion will last a long time.
Leather, Faux Leather, Vinyl
While these materials have advantages, the major disadvantage is that they lack breathability. Heat and moisture build up which can lead to the accumulation of sweat on the back and legs.
Hard surfaces do best with rubber based or polyurethane wheels because both grip surfaces without leaving marks.
Carpeted surfaces need a hard caster that will give less resistance on the carpet. A twin roller wheel glides easily across carpet which at times can help minimize the risk of catching on carpet fibers.
A quality caster is important because, when getting on or off a chair, the body’s weight is only supported by one or two casters. The best casters are made of metals; steel bases are the most durable and usually very costly. Aluminum can be a good choice because it is strong and lightweight. Next in durability are nylon casters followed by plastic which will wear out quickly.
Armed with these helpful tips, your search for the perfect office chair just got a little easier. Keep in mind that the best chair promotes a healthy, productive workday while preventing stress or injury to the body.