Selecting an Ergonomics Chair March 2016

We are often asked on a weekly basis what is the correct ergonomics chair for me? Another common question is what is an ergonomics chair? Hopefully this month we can shed some light on your concerns…

An increasing awareness of office ergonomics recognizes the importance of choosing the correct chair. This has led to many chairs being marketed as ‘ergonomic’ to increase sales but often this is misleading to the buyer and results in poor purchases. This makes choosing the correct chair a daunting process. Whether a chair is needed for home use or for office use the guidelines below will assist you in your purchase.

“Not all chairs are ‘ergonomic’ but are marketed as such.”

In looking for an ergonomic chair it is important to understand that if a product or system is termed ‘ergonomic’ it should be able to improve one’s comfort as well as efficiency or productivity. In other words the chair should not only be functionally respobsible, but meet your specific needs. If a product or system cannot provide both then it is deemed false advertising.

What chair is the correct one for you? Well that depends on you! What are your needs? Do you have a mix of paper and computer work? Lets use this as an example. If you use a lot of paper for reference whilst using a computer and you purchase a chair that is designed to place you in a reclined posture – leaning backwards – then you will quickly become very uncomfortable. The chair will want you to lean back, and your paper work will want you to lean forward. So the result is you will be fighting the chair all the time whilst reading or writing. In other words this chair would be totally incorrect for your needs.

The chair you buy depends more on your eye sight than your back. You will always move to view your computer screen or paper work, so in essence the chair has to accommodate this movement. You can buy the best ergonomics chair available, if you are leaning forward to view a laptop, or paper or a monitor placed too low, the chair becomes redundant. Remember your neck posture can lead to lower back pain!

So in looking to choose an ergonomic chair there are several features you can look out for -the adjustability of the chair, being the key factor. We, as humans were designed to move- sadly this is why prolonged seated postures that office work demands of us lead to postural fixity resulting in pain or discomfort in the neck, back and shoulders.

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR?

Due to human variation, not everyone can sit comfortably in the same chair. Adjustable features make it possible for one to fine-tune their chair to suit themselves.

The key factors to look out for include:

  1. SEAT HEIGHT

Most office chairs nowadays come standard with gas height adjustability. This allows the user to position themselves at the correct chair height, relative to desk height.

Remember, feet should be firmly on the ground, and if they don’t reach – make use of a footrest.

  1. ARMRESTS

Armrests should be at least height adjustable, offering support to the upper limb and shoulder complex. It must be in line or slightly above the desk

  1. 5 STAR CASTOR BASE

A standard feature of most office chairs nowadays.

  1. SEAT PAN

Depending on your upper leg length, having an adjustable seat pan can be a vey desirable feature – whether you very tall or short.

Being able to adjust the seat depth means providing the correct support to the thighs, without cutting off blood supply. Also keep in mind the seat pan tilt, remembering that ideally you want to be sitting with your knees lower than your hips.

  1. LUMBAR SUPPORT

A back rest that provides adjustable lumbar support is considered to be ergonomic. The adjustability of the lumbar support is key to personalizing lumbar support.

“Knowledge is power!”

If you follow these guidelines it will allow you to make an informed decision and reduce your risk of being subject to marketing ploys. When purchasing, it is also important to check for guarantees for any after sales services your supplier is willing to provide for you.

Every month, it is our hope that we can broaden your knowledge and application of ergonomics in your day to day activities. This month, we have just briefly touched on office ergonomics. Stay tuned until next month…….

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