Head of WorkSpace IQ
Choosing seats that work for a wide range of people is a real challenge. There are so many considerations.
Unless it’s a part of your job, it’s unlikely that you get to buy chairs that often. Maybe at work you might have some input into the choice of chair, but generally we get what we’re given. Sometimes these are chairs that with some adjustment features you can use to make yourself more comfortable.
A chair that fits you reasonably well and is adjusted to the right height is a key factor in keeping pain free at work. Office chairs are not particularly cheap, but there are several reasonably priced options on the market if you know what to look for.
Pointers to look for when choosing a chair:
• A seat depth that gives you enough leg support (3-4 fingers between the front of the chair and the back of your legs)
• A back which is high enough for you to lean back and be able to feel your shoulder blades against the chair
• Preferably the ability to adjust the chair back angle
• Ability to raise the seat up high enough so that the keyboard can be used with relaxed shoulders
• Some lumbar (lower back) support or the ability to tilt the seat forwards (helps keep the spine aligned when sitting).
Beware of ‘sitting time’
You may have noticed that chairs sometimes have a ‘sitting time’ rating of 4, 8 or even 8+ hours. This relates to how much padding the seat has, the back support and the chair’s adjustability.
An eight hour rating is not giving you permission to sit for that length of time! No matter how good a chair is; it is how you are sitting and how long you sit in the chair for that will determine if you start to develop low back pain.
If you’re desk bound, try to get up at least once an hour during the day and ideally get out for a walk at lunchtime; this helps increase circulation around your body including in your brain. Everyone I come across who does get out for a walk always says how much better they function for the rest of the day. If you’re not already walking, give it a go.
Remember, you have options
Look around and consider your options before you buy. Aim for flexibility in adjustments and look for chair models with some options of seat sizes. If you’re unsure what to buy, get some specialist advice.