A few of my business account contacts have posed the question of what to look for in an ergonomic chair. The short answer is adjustment features. While a chair with multiple adjustment features offers ergonomic benefit, sitting for prolonged periods in any chair will eventually induce discomfort. This is part of the reason I don't recommend a particular manufacturer's chair. When we sit stationary, there is more pressure on our spinal discs than when standing, muscle activity becomes static, and pressure receptors in our back, hamstring, and buttock area sound a silent alarm to shift posture. Otherwise, discomfort sets in.
Regardless of the chair maker or style, be sure it has multiple adjustments. Chair height, seat pan angle, and lumbar support adjustments are all critical to proper ergonomic fit. Most chairs come with adjustable arms; however, most people cannot adjust the arms to fit properly. The common recommendation is to remove the arms; then they can’t be used in awkward postures such as with shoulders shrugged or leaning to one side.
When it comes to sitting, the best posture is the next posture for promotion of dynamic muscle activity and relief from static discomfort. The bottom line is sitting just isn’t very good for us and dynamic posture is helpful when we are forced to sit for long periods. Better yet, be sure to get up and move around frequently. Get the blood flowing, stay limber, and stretch gently to promote better health. Lastly, remember that ergonomics is important at home as well as at work.
MEMIC offers many safety tools and resources; check out our Ergonomic Safety Tips available at MEMIC.com. OSHA also offers a Work Station E-Tool with helpful information regarding proper office setup and chair adjustments.