Understand your ergonomic chair’s skeleton and find out what the levers under your seat are used for in this article.

It’s crucial that your workstation and ergonomic chair are adjusted according to your body type and height to improve your posture and overall productivity. But, how can you make sense of the skeleton and levers under your chair?

According to Spine Health, a trusted resource for back- and neck pain relief, it’s important to set up your ergonomic chair correctly to avoid back and neck pain. “Many office workers spend thousands of hours sitting in an office chair at their desk, so there is a great deal of opportunity for their sitting posture to either continuously help the back or hurt it,” they explain.

Our account manager, Ronel Hendry explains, “a lot of people believe that a chair is just a chair. This is not the case. You need a proper ergonomic chair to improve your posture and productivity levels.”

What should you consider when selecting an ergonomic chair?

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety says, “A basic rule of ergonomics is that there is no such thing as an “average” person. However, providing a chair specifically designed for each individual is not practical. The only solution is to provide workers with fully adjustable chairs that can accommodate a maximum range of people (typically around 90 percent of the population; workers falling in the ranges of 5% of the shortest and the tallest will need custom-made chairs).”

The most important factor is that your ergonomic chair should be as comfortable as possible. Our article, Ergonomics, Quality, and Style: Is Your Office Chair a Hit or a Miss? explains what features are crucial to make your chair suit your body:

Feature:What is it for?Should my chair have it?
Simple Gas Height AdjustmentsThis adjusts your overall position in relation to your workstation and keeps the height stable.Critical
Lightweight BuildLight, strong materials help you to move more freely and relocate without strain when required.Critical
Sturdy BaseWe all know the pain of sitting in a chair with a wheel that’s fallen off, or a broken support beneath the seat. A sturdy base prevents that.Critical
Stable movement and easy manoeuvrabilityReduced rolling resistance allows for freer movement that does not cause strain on any muscle from rolling, pushing, or moving your chair.Critical
Mesh Fabric BackThe mesh should mould to your body for better support and allow a free-flow of air for reduced heat-entrapment.Recommended
Adjustable Lumbar SupportChanging the support on your lumbar spine can be the difference between a migraine and a productive workday.Recommended
Dynamic SittingAn office chair which permits the backrest and seat to move relative to each other increases your muscular movement in the lumbar region, reducing stiffness and pain in the lower back.Recommended
Adjustable ArmrestsAdd to your comfort by ensuring your arms are comfortably supportedOptional
Adjustable HeadrestsAdjustable headrests allow you to get better support around your head and neck.Optional

Read: Ergonomics, Quality, and Style: Is Your Office Chair a Hit or a Miss?

What are the levers under your ergonomic chair used for?

  • To raise or lower the height of your chair;
  • To lock or unlock the backrest angle;
  • To adjust the depth of your seat (only available in some models);
  • To adjust backrest tension (use the hand wheel for this).

Hendry says it’s also important to have movement in the seat. “Movement in the seat is important for muscle and blood circulation and prevents injuries like back strain, muscle fatigue and exhaustion. A good, synchronised chair will offer movement in the seat in conjunction with backrest movement.”

How can you ensure you get the perfect seating position in from of your computer screen when adjusting your chair?

SpineUniverse, a leader in patient and healthcare professional education says, “While most people believe it is relaxing, sitting is actually hard on the back because it transfers the full weight of the upper body onto the buttocks and thighs. Sitting, especially for long periods of time, can also cause increased pressure on the intervertebral discs – the springy, shock-absorbing parts of the spine. It’s also hard on the lower extremities since gravity pools blood in the legs and feet and creates a sluggish return of blood to the heart.”

Some tips to adjust your ergonomic chair include:

  • Push your hips as far back as they can go in your chair.
  • Adjust the seat height, so your feet are flat on the floor and your knees equal to, or slightly lower than, your hips.
  • Adjust the back of your chair to a 100⁰ – 110⁰ reclined angle. Make sure your upper and lower back are supported. Use inflatable cushions or small pillows, if necessary. If you have an active back mechanism on your chair, use it to make frequent position changes.
  • Adjust the armrests (if fitted) so that your shoulders are relaxed. If your armrests are in the way, remove them.

It’s essential to get the perfect seating position for your posture and body type to decrease back- and neck pain while working. However, you should have a fair understanding of what every lever is used for and how to operate them before using your chair.

If you’d like to buy an ergonomic chair, but not sure what features it should have, download our ergonomics checklist