What is the best chair for computer use?

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lower back pain from sitting

Do you suffer from back, neck or shoulder pain when sitting for long hours in front of your computer? Have you ever wondered what is the best chair for computer use? 

8 must have features of a good computer chair

The best chair for computer use should make it easier for you to do your job without resulting in back, neck or shoulder pain! Many of us spend long hours in front of a laptop or PC, and a good ergonomically designed chair can reduce the incidence of back, neck and shoulder pain caused by long periods of sitting. Here are the 8 ‘must-have’ features you should be looking for:

1. Height Adjustment

You should be able to adjust the height of your office or computer chair to suit your own height and workstation. For optimal comfort, refer to our guide, the perfect office setup.

2. Backrest Angle Adjustment

You must be able to position the backrest of the chair in a way that suits your body and the way you prefer to work. The angle between the backrest and seat of the chair must be adjustable. By altering this angle from an upright to a more reclined position (for e.g. when you are on the phone or talking to someone), you automatically stimulate (or activate) the muscles in the lumbar region of your back. This is known as Dynamic Sitting.

The activation of these muscles increases the blood flow through them which prevents lower back pain commonly caused by long periods of static sitting. For greater comfort, the chair should have a locking mechanism that allows the backrest to be easily locked into position. When left unlocked, the backrest should be dynamic and provide continuous back support by remaining in contact with your back and moving with you.

Although not essential, a great additional feature is a backrest that can adjust vertically.

3. Adjustable Lumbar Support

We do not all have the same shape of back and we all have slightly different needs when it comes to back support.

The contoured backrest on your office chair should give your back the comfort and support it needs. A good computer chair should include a lumbar support that can be adjusted vertically as well as horizontally (depth). Your lower back should be supported in such a way that it is slightly arched so that you don’t slump as the day progresses. Good lumbar support is essential to minimise strain or compression of the lumbar discs in your spine.

See our Knowledge article on what happens when you sit and how it effects your body.

4. Seat Depth and Width

The chair seat should be wide and deep enough to let you sit comfortably. Look for a deeper seat if you are taller, and a shallower one if you are not so tall. When you sit properly in the chair, there should be a gap of 2-3 fingers between the front edge of the seat and the inside of your knees (see pic). Ideally, the best option is a chair that has a seat depth adjustment. This feature allows you to make the seat longer so that you have sufficient support under your thighs.

office chair seat depth adjustment

5. Breathable (Mesh) Backrest and Moulded Foam Seat

A mesh backrest moulds itself to the shape of your back. Furthermore, it lets your body breathe and is more comfortable when sitting for any length of time. Unless you are sitting in an air conditioned office, upholstered backrests can be uncomfortable in a hot climate.

The seat must include High-Density injection moulded foam because it provides additional support, is longer lasting, and will not collapse after a short period of use. Just like your car, the seat foam must be firm because a seat that is too soft will not offer enough support and will quickly become uncomfortable.

6. Adjustable Armrests

Height adjustable armrests are a definite ‘must-have’ as they take some of the strain off your neck and shoulders. Additional adjustments on the armrests, like width and angle adjustment, allow you position them in a way that suits your body and improves your comfort, while making you less likely to slouch. The correct position of the armrests is explained in the perfect office setup.

7. Easy-to-Operate Adjustment Controls

Make sure all adjustment controls on your office chair can be reached from a seated position, and you do not have to strain to get to them. You should be able to easily activate the backrest tilt and locking feature, the position of the lumbar support, the seat height adjustment lever, and the armrest adjustments from a seated position. It is always easier to get all the settings ‘exactly right’ if you are already sitting in the chair!

8. Manoeuvrability

The ability to move around in your chair adds to its overall comfort and usefulness. You should be easily able to swivel and move in your chair so that you can reach documents, files etc. Chair castors give you effortless mobility, but make sure to get the right ones for your floor. Nylon castors are suitable for carpet floors, while rubber or soft castors, are suitable for hard surfaces like, tiles, wood and concrete.

Author: Mike Karle
Director at Karo Manufacturing (Pty) Ltd



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