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Ergonomic Office Chairs

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We spend more time at work than anywhere else in our lives and many of us spend more time sitting on an office chair than on anything else. A well designed comfortable seating option is therefore essential for improving posture and performance, whilst preventing potential damage to your back, neck, and shoulders. An ergonomic chair, however, is not necessarily designed to make you more comfortable or to support your problematic ailments. Whilst the features of the chair should certainly alleviate and help these aches and pains, a well-designed ergonomic chair will help you to encourage movement.  Movement is essential to your wellbeing and should prevent you from sore backs and stiff necks, as being in one position all day, inevitably leads to these type of problems.  A good ergonomic chair will have components such as adjustable lumbar support, back height adjustment, free float tilt and adjustable armrests all designed to move with you, not just for you. 

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Tips and information on Ergonomic Office chairs

Ergonomic chairs have a wide variety of features and adjustments compared to the standard 3 lever office chair. Manufactures and designers have to take in to account that not all bodies are the same shape and size and will not all fit within constraints. All Ergonomic chairs should have some, if not all of the following features:

Seat Height

It’s the most basic requirement on almost all office chairs and will certainly be a feature on all ergonomic classed chairs. To adjust the seat height on most office chairs you reach for the paddle under the seat on the right-hand side.  The most ergonomically sound position is be seated with your feet flat on the ground without compressing your thighs which would reduce blood flow to your legs.

Lumbar Support

The lower spine curves inwards and without adequate support can lead to slouching and over time flattening of the natural lower curve. Lumber support therefore very important as it gives support to the lower spine and promotes a better posture.

Some lumber supports are integral and inbuilt to the chair whereas some can be added and removed and be moved or adjusted up and down the chair back.  Many ergonomic chairs such as the Chiro High and Medium back chair are supplied with pump up lumber supports in the form of a hand-held air pump, adjusting the depth and firmness to your required level.

Seat slide

Regardless of how tall you are; seat slide allows you to maintain the appropriate level of under-thigh support without restricting circulation. It’s been designed so you can leave a slight gap from the back of your knees to the front edge of the seat when your back is in full contact with the chairs back. If you were tall you would slide the seat forward in order to maintain the gap and keep your back supported by the chair.

Armrests

Armrests provide suitable support when not using the keyboard to minimize tension in the shoulders and neck area and to take some support or strain off the lower back. Armrests have several different features and specifications.

Height adjustable armrests

If the armrests are height adjustable, they will easy to move up and down and will not interfere or clash with the desktop. Height adjustable armrest often works on a ratchet system so by pulling them up or down to the required height they lock in to place.

Width adjustable armrests

Ideally, to get comfortable on you chair you may want to consider width adjustable armrests. The width adjustment will prevent you from stretching your elbows out to make contact with the armrests and prevent you from feeling hemmed in if too narrow.

Armrests can also pivot inwards or outwards to varying degrees until you find something that’s suited to your levels of comfort.

Padded Armrests

Armrests on ergonomic chairs should almost always be padded and soft as the user should have regular contact and support from them through the day.

Drop down Armrests

Drop down armrests can be useful if you do temporally want to move closer to the desk without having to worry about hitting the desktop. Drop down arms swing downwards on a pivot and they can remain below the seat until required again. The drop-down arm feature makes it possible for wheelchair users to move in or out of the chair safely and with less interference.

Independent Back Angle Adjustment

Although the diagrams on ergonomics show figures with their backs at 90 degrees to the seat and our thighs we actually should position ourselves at about 100 – 110 degrees. Independent back angle adjustment means that you can move or lean into the back without moving or tilting the seat which means you can set the ideal seat to back ratio or one which suits you.  The Independent mechanism is also lockable in various positions and on some chairs can be set to ‘freefloat’ which means it moves back and forward with you.

Synchro mechanism

This is where the seat and back are synchronized to move together, so the angle between the seat and the back is always the same, this again can be left to ‘free-float which enables better movement or be locked at a specific preferred angle to give added and permanent support.

Headrest Height

Headrests are a useful optional extra if the user has neck and shoulder problems as it allows the muscles in this area to relax and increase blood flow. Normally, however, the headrest function s only used when the chair is slightly reclined, in thinking mode!

Seat material

The material on the office chair seat and back should have enough padding to be comfortable on for extended periods of time. Also, another factor that should be taken into account is the breathability of the fabric which usually takes the form of a mesh material.

 

 

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