Last updated: July 6, 2020
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I suffer from back issues. Sitting for more than an hour can wreak havoc on my spine. I tend to get up to move around to relieve the pain. However, when my lower back is properly supported while sitting, I experience much less pain. I am also more productive because I can concentrate better and don’t need to constantly take breaks.
If you have only recently begun your work at home office setup, you might be tempted to save money and use one of your kitchen chairs as work at home desk chair. I definitely understand being on a budget. Therefore, if you have no other alternatives, you have to do what you have to do. However, if you can spare the money, investing in a quality desk chair would benefit you in the long run.
I am able to offer that advice from my personal experience. Most work at home jobs involve a lot of sitting in a chair at a desk performing your duties which puts pressure on the spine. Therefore, choosing an office chair that is ergonomically designed to support your back is ideal. There are some important considerations when deciding on your work at home desk chair.
It’s all about Ergonomics!
An ergonomic office chair is engineered in such a way that it should optimize a user’s comfort while working or performing. The chair should essentially assist you in working better by alleviating the issues that arise from sitting for a long period of time. To achieve this, an office chair’s design must feature adjustable settings and sufficient back support.
Avoid choosing a work at home desk chair that does not allow you to adjust any of the features listed below or does not offer back support as described below. Your back will thank you!
Seat Height – Most desk chairs will allow the seat height to be adjusted by moving a lever located below the seat up or down. To know the correct height for your comfort, your feet should be able to rest flat on the floor while your thighs are horizontal and your knees are at 90-degree angles.
Tilt – The ability to adjust your office chair at an angle either forward or backward will allow you to relieve in pressure or strain on your spine and lower back muscles. This is adjustment can be done with a mechanism usually located on the back of the chair.
Armrests – Not all office chairs will have armrests. However, if you choose a chair with this option, the armrests should be adjustable. They should be set to a height that allows your shoulders to relax while your elbows and forearms rest softly while you are working at your desk.
Headrest – A headrest is a less common feature on office chairs. If you have neck issues, a headrest can support your head to reduce any strain in that area.
A good desk chair will have lumbar support that can be adjusted in height and depth and will curve in toward your back to support the natural curvature of your lower back.
An ergonomic office chair will have a backrest that is wide enough to support the user’s upper and mid-back. If the backrest is not attached to the chair’s seat, it should be adjustable in height as well as angle in order to support the back, especially the lumbar area. Complete support of the back will allow you to sit for a longer period of time.
Seat width and depth – The seat of your office chair should be wide enough to support you completely and comfortably.
The depth (from the front to the back of the seat) of your chair should be sufficient enough to allow you to sit with your back against the chair and leave a couple of inches between the seat and the back of your knees.
Fabric – A breathable fabric would be best for sitting for a long period of time versus leather or a leather-like material.
Padding – I suggest memory foam padding. Any other type of foam padding will break down quickly, making your desk chair uncomfortable. The padding should be thick enough to accommodate you sitting for long periods.
Wheel Base – Being able to roll in order to reach areas around your desk allows you to be more efficient and avoid strain. Ensure that the wheelbase has five spokes and is steady. If your work at home office space is carpeted, consider purchasing a chair mat to protect it and allow the chair to roll easily.
Swivel Base – As with the wheelbase, a swivel base allows you to turn in any direction so that you can access areas around your desk without straining, allowing you to work more efficiently.
What’s the alternative?
The features and specifications listed above generally apply to choosing a conventional office chair. In an effort to think outside of the box, some innovative engineers came up with a few other designs that promote a healthy spine as well as overall health.
Perhaps you already suffer from some sort of back problem or you’re just hoping to avoid developing problems in the future, here are some designs to consider.
Active Sitting Chairs
The term active sitting sounds like an oxymoron as the two words seem to be opposites of each other. But some smart people who work in the scientific field of ergonomics came up with the idea of keeping the body active while sitting or working at a desk. The natural benefits are being less sedentary and burning calories while working. Active sitting also helps with back pain and improves posture and blood circulation. Some of the more common active sitting chair designs are listed below.
Exercise or Balance Ball – I first saw exercise balls being used as office chairs on a TV show. It was something funny at first but many people swear by the ergonomic benefits. It is a ball that is big enough to support you and can be used for sitting for long stretches of time. Because of its bounciness, your legs tend to move continuously which helps with circulation and keeps you alert. Since there is no backrest, you aren’t able to slouch which promotes good posture. However, there are balance ball chairs that are designed with a backrest and wheelbase to allow more maneuverability.
Kneeling Ergonomic Chair – These chairs can be found with or without a backrest. However, chairs with no backrest are more common. Because you are kneeling forward and distributing your weight to hips, knees, and legs, you are putting less pressure on your spine. This position also promotes good posture.
Saddle Ergonomic Chair – This chair has a seat that is shaped like a horse’s saddle which causes you to sit as if you are on a horse. This positioning spreads the legs and allows them to drop in a way that relieves pressure on the lower back. It also helps with circulation and posture.
I have mentioned in my review of my mobile desk <–link that I use a recliner as my office chair due to back issues. For my particular back problem, I am more comfortable while sitting in a reclining position with my feet resting on a footrest. With the range of mobile desks that are currently available, utilizing a recliner as your work at home office chair is a perfectly valid option. If you have tried other conventional office chairs without finding the comfort level you are looking for, perhaps you should consider getting a recliner.
Zero Gravity Ergonomic Chair
When I first saw this design, I questioned the sanity of the person who came up with it. Now, after learning more about it, I want one!
The concept of a zero gravity chair is to combat the compression of the spine that occurs when sitting or even standing. This chair accomplishes that by positioning the user in a way that elevates the legs in line with the upper body. You are practically lying down! But it is impossible to work at a desk in this position. So zero gravity chairs are usually designed with built-in trays and attachments for working.
Gaming chairs rock!
I find that much of the equipment designed for gamers qualify as excellent work at home office equipment. Gaming chairs are no different in this regard.
Gaming chairs are inherently ergonomic and share all of the specifications and features of office chairs that I have listed above. The biggest difference between the two is aesthetics. Gaming chairs are designed to be flashier. They usually come in brighter colors and may sport game-related logos or character prints. You are more likely to find a built-in footrest or massage feature on a gaming chair as well.
Your work at home office chair is an essential piece of equipment. If your work at home job or business causes you to sit for long periods of time, you are likely putting a lot of pressure on your spine which can contribute to a number of health problems. A good ergonomically designed office chair can help you avoid those.
If you can, try out potential work at home desk chairs before buying one to ensure that you get a good fit. Make sure that the chair can be easily adjusted to fit your comfort level, that it has sufficient support, and that it is has a comfortable and sturdy design. If you currently have back problems, consider the alternative ergonomic chair options like a recliner or active sitting chair.
Having a good desk chair will prevent back pain and promote overall good health. This will allow you to sit comfortably for longer periods of time, making you a more productive worker.
Did I miss any important features to consider? What is your work at home desk chair like? Do you have a dream desk chair? Let me know in the comments section!