How to choose the right ergonomic desk chair

Because our body shapes are all different, there is no "one size fits all". How do you select the right ergonomic desk chair?

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Ergonomic Desk Chair

We often get asked, “What is the right ergonomic desk chair for me?” or “How do I choose the right office chair?”  These are tough questions without easy answers and the reason is simple.

Choosing a comfortable office chair is highly subjective.
We are all different and there is no, and never will be, a one-size-fits-all.

Although two people may be the exact same height, it is likely that they have different body shapes which will result in them selecting a different ergonomic desk chair. For example, one person might have long legs and a short torso, whereas the opposite is true for someone else. This translates into a different seating experience for each person. How your office chair is designed matters as one size DOES NOT fit all when it comes to finding the right chair for YOU.

Our philosophy at Karo is to offer a range of ergonomic office chairs and associated products that will suit a wide spectrum of people.

The goal of this article is to help you understand the differences between ergonomic chairs and assist you in choosing the perfect desk chair for YOU. To achieve this goal, I have analysed the body shapes of various people within the Karo team, and then asked them what their favourite chair is and why. Important links: Choosing the Right Office Chair for Short People and Best Office Chairs for Tall People

people are all different and so require a different ergonomic desk chair

"Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you."

Dr Seuss

Different body shapes lead to selecting a different ergonomic desk chair

The photo below shows the heights of various Karo team members. Some people are of a similar height, yet their body shapes are quite dissimilar. This results in a difference in their seated posture, and therefore their preferred desk chair.

Further on in this article each person describes in detail why they prefer a particular ergonomic desk chair. Finally, I will conclude this article with some general comments.

Buying the Right Office Chair Online: A guide to Measuring Yourself

Use our CHAIR SELECTOR to help you choose the right ergonomic desk chair!

Karo Team Members - Their heights and chair preferences

a)  Philip - 197cm tall

I am very tall, my overall height is 197cm when wearing formal shoes.

When seated in a comfortable position, the height from the floor to the top of my seat is approximately 52cm and from the top of the seat to the top of my shoulder is approximately 73cm. Best Office Chairs for Tall People – A Comprehensive Guide.

Because of my longer torso and long legs, I prefer using an ergonomic desk chair:

    • With an adjustable lumbar support;
    • Where I can increase the depth of the seat. Because of my long legs, this is a 'must have' feature;
    • With multi adjustable armrests so that I can adjust the arms and armpads to a comfortable position. Because of my long torso, chairs fitted with fixed height armrests are too low for me; and
    • Generally without a headrest. The reason I prefer not to have a headrest is because most chair's headrests don’t adjust high enough for me and end up supporting the top of my shoulders and not my head! What’s the purpose of the headrest?

Philip's preferred ergonomic desk chairs....

Because I am so tall, an office chair that has an adjustable seat depth is an absolute "must have" feature. These three chairs tick all my boxes. 

Because they have a higher backrest and longer headrest adjustment range, I can even use the headrest on these chairs!  I am currently sitting on the Fenix.

    • The ergonomic Heathrow is a bulky and heavy desk chair that works well with my large frame and is therefore a great alternative. With its high backrest, seat depth adjustment and multi-adjustable armrests, I can sit comfortably for many hours on the Heathrow. 
    • My final preference is the Mira. However, the headrest on the Mira is too low for me, so I prefer using the chair without it.

When I sit at my desk, my feet are flat on the floor and therefore I don’t need a footrest.

Most of my work is digital and because I seldom work with documents, I don’t need a Microdesk.

Philip's favourite ergonomic desk chairs

fenix ergonomic office chair
Fenix
orthomax orthopedic office chair
OrthoMax
orthoair orthopedic office chair
OrthoAir
Heathrow Heavy Duty Orthopaedic Chair with adjustable armrests
Heathrow
mira ergonomic office chair
Mira

b)  Ruhan - 183cm tall

I am reasonably tall, have an average build and my overall height is 183cm when wearing safety boots.

When I sit in a comfortable position, the height from the floor to the top of my seat is approximately 52cm and from the top of the seat to the top of my shoulder is approximately 60cm.

My body shape is pretty much average, which means I can use any Karo ergonomic desk chair. I generally prefer using chairs:

    • With an adjustable lumbar support;
    • With a static seat as I don’t need to adjust the seat depth;
    • With multi adjustable armrests so that I can adjust the height of the arms and comfortably position the armpads. Chairs fitted with fixed height armrests are almost always too low for me; and
    • With a headrest. What’s the purpose of the headrest?

Ruhan's preferred ergonomic desk chairs....

My body shape is 'average' and these four chairs tick all my boxes. 

Although these chairs have the functionality to adjust the seat depth, I don’t use it. The reason why these chairs are my favourites is for their quality build and comfort, especially when sitting for longer hours. I am currently sitting on the OrthoMax.

Although the Skye has a small backrest, I find it very comfortable which makes it my final favourite ergonomic desk chair. The Skye’s adjustable arms are perfect for me. However, because of the Skye’s limited mechanism functionality, I will only use it for short periods in a day. What’s the right mechanism for me?

When I sit at my desk, my feet are flat on the floor and therefore I don’t need a footrest.

I often work with documents when doing technical drawings and for that reason I love using the Microdesk.
What’s the purpose of a document holder?

Ruhan's favourite ergonomic desk chairs

orthomax orthopedic office chair
OrthoMax
Vera Mesh Executive Office and desk chair available in south africa
Vera
firefly ergonomic office chair
Firefly
mira ergonomic office chair
Mira
Skye Task office chair
Skye

c)  George - 177cm tall

My overall height is 177cm when wearing formal shoes. Lizl and I are exactly the same height, but our body shapes differ and therefore so do our preferences when it comes to selecting an ergonomic desk chair.

When seated in a comfortable position, the height from the floor to the top of my seat is approximately 51cm and from the top of the seat to the top of my shoulder is approximately 60cm.

My body shape is pretty much average, which means I can use any ergonomic desk chair from Karo. I generally prefer using chairs:

    • With an adjustable lumbar support;
    • With a static seat as I don’t need to adjust the seat depth;
    • With multi adjustable armrests so that I can adjust the height of the arms and armpads to a comfortable position. Chairs fitted with fixed height armrests are almost always too low for me; and
    • With a headrest. What’s the purpose of the headrest?

George's preferred ergonomic desk chairs....

My body shape is 'average' and these five chairs tick all my boxes. 

Although these chairs have the functionality to adjust the seat depth, I don’t need it.

The reason why these chairs are my favourites is for their quality build and comfort, especially when sitting for longer hours. I am currently sitting on the ErgoCurve.

Due to my broad shoulders, I like the armrests to be far apart and a chair with a wider backrest.

When I sit at my desk, my feet are flat on the floor and therefore I don’t need a footrest.

I often work with sales orders and customer quotes and for that reason I love using the Microdesk.
What’s the purpose of a document holder?

George's favourite ergonomic desk chairs

ergocurve ergonomic office chair with headrest
ErgoCurve
fenix ergonomic office chair
Fenix
capri ergonomic office chair
Capri
Alya Executive Office Chair
Alya
orthoair orthopedic office chair
OrthoAir

d)  Lizl - 177cm tall

My overall height is 177cm when wearing pumps. George and I are exactly the same height, but our body shapes differ and therefore so do our preferences when it comes to selecting an ergonomic desk chair.

When seated in a comfortable position, the height from the floor to the top of my seat is approximately 51cm and from the top of the seat to the top of my shoulder is approximately 65cm.

The height I sit at is pretty much average, but I have a pretty long torso. I generally prefer using chairs:

    • With an adjustable lumbar support;
    • With a static seat as I don’t need to adjust the seat depth;
    • With multi adjustable armrests so that I can adjust the height of the arms and armpads to a comfortable position. Because of my long torso, chairs fitted with fixed height armrests are too low for me; and 
    • With a headrest. What’s the purpose of the headrest?

Lizl's preferred ergonomic desk chairs....

My body shape is 'average' and these five chairs tick all my boxes. 

Although these chairs have the functionality to adjust the seat depth, I don’t need it.

The reason why these chairs are my favourites is for their quality build and comfort, especially when sitting for longer hours. I am currently sitting on the Capri.

I especially like a chair where the armrests are far apart for a wider seated area.

When I sit at my desk, my feet are flat on the floor and therefore I don’t need a footrest.

Because I work in production, I work with a lot of documents and therefore the Microdesk is a definite lifesaver.
What’s the purpose of a document holder?

Lizl's favourite ergonomic desk chairs

orthomax orthopedic office chair
ErgoMax
Vera Mesh Executive Office and desk chair available in south africa
Vera
capri ergonomic office chair
Capri
firefly ergonomic office chair
Firefly
Leila Executive office and computer chair
Leila

e)  Ronel - 173cm tall

My overall height is 173cm when wearing shoes with heels. 

When seated in a comfortable position, the height from the floor to the top of my seat is approximately 56cm and from the top of the seat to the top of my shoulder is approximately 56cm.

I am not the tallest at Karo, but my body shape is definitely not average. I have a really short torso and long legs. Yolandi and I have exactly the same torso height, but because of my long legs, our preferred ergonomic desk chair is quite different.  I generally prefer using chairs:

    • With an adjustable lumbar support;
    • Where I can slide the seat forward to increase the seat depth. Because of my long legs, this is a 'must have' feature;
    • With multi adjustable armrests so that I can adjust the arms and armpads to a comfortable position; and
    • With a headrest. What’s the purpose of the headrest?

Ronel's preferred ergonomic desk chairs....

Because I have such long legs, an office chair that has an adjustable seat depth is an absolute "must have" feature. These five chairs tick all my boxes. 

My body frame is very small so it is important that the chairs armrests are not too far apart and that they can come as close to my body as possible. I am currently sitting on the OrthoMax.

The OrthoMax is really perfect for me due to the sciatica pain I experience. I can increase the seat depth to accommodate my longer legs, and because the OrthoMax is an orthopedic chair, I am also able to tilt the seat forward. What is an orthopedic chair? Furthermore, I can adjust the height of the backrest and the depth of the lumber support with it's inflatable lumber support feature. This really helps with pain relief in my back. 

When I sit at my desk, my feet are flat on the floor and therefore I don’t need a footrest.

I often work with sales documents when working on quotes and completing sales orders and for that reason I love using the Microdesk.
What’s the purpose of a document holder?

Ronel's favourite ergonomic desk chairs

orthomax orthopedic office chair
OrthoMax
ergocurve ergonomic office chair with headrest
ErgoCurve
orthoair orthopedic office chair
OrthoAir
mira ergonomic office chair
Mira
lynx ergonomic office chair
Lynx

f)  Maria - 168cm tall

My overall height is 168cm when wearing flats. 

When I sit in a comfortable position, the height from the floor to the top of my seat is approximately 47cm and from the top of the seat to the top of my shoulder is approximately 60cm.

I sit at an average height and have an average body shape. I generally prefer using an ergonomic desk chair:

    • With an adjustable lumbar support;
    • With a static seat as I don’t need to adjust the seat depth;
    • With multi adjustable armrests so that I can adjust the arms and armpads to a comfortable position. Chairs fitted with fixed height armrests are almost always too low for me; and;
    • Without a headrest because I don't use it. What’s the purpose of the headrest?

Maria's preferred ergonomic desk chairs....

With my average body shape, these five chairs tick all my boxes. 

Although the Capri, Mira and Lynx have the functionality to adjust the seat depth, I don’t use this feature. The reason why these chairs are my favourites is for their quality build and comfort, especially when sitting for longer hours. I am currently sitting on the Capri.

I especially like a chair where the armrests are far apart for a wider seated area.

When I sit at my desk, my feet are not flat on the floor and therefore I need a footrest.

I work in accounts so I constantly work with documents and for that reason the Microdesk is a great ergonomic aid.
What’s the purpose of a document holder?

Maria's favourite ergonomic desk chairs

capri ergonomic office chair
Capri
mira ergonomic office chair
Mira
Elara Task Office Chair
Elara
lynx ergonomic office chair
Lynx
Skye Task office chair
Skye

g)  Yolandi - 159cm tall

My overall height is 159cm when wearing pumps. 

Thembi and I are essentially the same size. Despite this, we differ on some of our choices of ergonomic desk chair. When seated in a comfortable position, the height from the floor to the top of my seat is approximately 49cm, and from the top of the seat to the top of my shoulder is approximately 56cm.

Because I have both a short torso and legs, I prefer using chairs:

    • With or without an adjustable lumbar support;
    • With a static seat as I don’t need to adjust the seat depth;
    • With multi adjustable armrests so that I can adjust the arms and armpads to a comfortable position. Although I prefer adjustable armrests, chairs fitted with fixed height armrests are also fine for my height; and
    • Without a headrest because I don't use it. What’s the purpose of the headrest?

Yolandi's preferred ergonomic desk chairs....

With my short stature, these five chairs tick all my boxes. 

The ErgoCurve, Mira and Fenix have the functionality to adjust the seat depth, which I don't use. The reason why these chairs are my favourites is for their quality build and comfort, especially when sitting for longer hours. I am currently sitting on the ErgoCurve.

Although the Fenix is very comfortable, the challenge I have is that due to my petite size the armrests are a bit too far apart. To overcome this, I have to pivot the armrest inwards so that I can get my elbows as close as possible to my body.

When I sit at my desk, my feet are not flat on the floor and therefore I need a footrest.

I work in accounts so I constantly work with documents and for that reason the Microdesk is a great ergonomic aid.
What’s the purpose of a document holder?

Yolandi's favourite ergonomic desk chairs

ergocurve ergonomic office chair without headrest
ErgoCurve
mira ergonomic office chair
Mira
Elara Task Office Chair
Elara
Wellback 100 Orthopedic Chairs - Multi-Adjustable armrests
Wellback 100
fenix ergonomic office chair
Fenix

h)  Thembi - 159cm tall

My overall height is 158cm when wearing trainers. 

Yolandi and I are essentially the same size. Despite this, we differ on some of our choices of ergonomic desk chair. When I sit in a comfortable position, the height from the floor to the top of my seat is approximately 49cm, and from the top of the seat to the top of my shoulder is approximately 54cm.

Because I have both a short torso and legs, I prefer using chairs:

    • With or without an adjustable lumbar support;
    • With a static seat as I don’t need to adjust the seat depth;
    • With multi adjustable armrests so that I can adjust the arms and armpads to a comfortable position. Although I prefer adjustable armrests, chairs fitted with fixed height armrests are also fine for my height; and
    • Without a headrest because I don't use it. What’s the purpose of the headrest?

Thembi's preferred ergonomic desk chairs....

With my short stature, these five chairs tick all my boxes. 

The OrthoMax, Vera and Fenix have the functionality to adjust the seat depth, which I don’t use. The reason why these chairs are my favourites is for their quality build and comfort, especially when sitting for longer hours. I am currently sitting on the Wellback 100.

Although the Fenix and Vera are very comfortable ergonomic desk chairs, with my petite size I find that the armrests are too far apart. To overcome this, I pivot the armrest inwards so that I can get my elbows close to my body.

When I sit at my desk, my feet are not flat on the floor and therefore I need a footrest.

I work in production and so I constantly work with documents and for that reason the Microdesk is an ideal ergonomic aid.
What’s the purpose of a document holder?

Thembi's favourite ergonomic desk chairs

Wellback 100 Orthopedic Chairs - Multi-Adjustable armrests
Wellback 100
orthomax orthopedic office chair
OrthoMax
Vera Mesh Task Office chair
Vera
fenix ergonomic office chair
Fenix
Nika Task Office Chair
Nika

Conclusion

With such a large selection of ergonomic chairs available, choose an ergonomic desk chair that can be adjusted to suit YOUR individual needs. The design of a modern high-back office chair is not a simple process and may have a profound impact on your long-term health and wellbeing.

  • If you have long legs, consider getting a chair where the seat depth can be adjusted so that your legs are well supported. There should be a gap of about 3cm between the front of the seat and the back of your knees.
  • If you have a long torso, think about whether or not you should get a chair with a headrest. If you prefer a headrest, make sure the headrest can go high enough, or the chair has a high backrest, or the backrest is height adjustable.
  • For most people, fixed armrests are too low and will cause you to hunch your back. If you are going to sit for short periods of time, then fixed arms will be fine. Otherwise, we would recommend adjustable armrests so that you can adjust them to suit your personal preference.

Video guide

How to correctly adjust the height of your ergonomic OFFICE CHAIR, DESK and MONITOR

Contact us for more information.

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