Ergonomics is the study of an individual’s efficiency in his or her working environment. Today, many furniture manufacturers and designers understand that a one-size-fits-all approach to creating office furniture doesn’t work, especially when it comes to chairs. Because of that, many office chairs include ergonomic adjustments that enable them to support a wide range of body types. What ergonomic adjustments should you look for in your next ergonomic office chair?
Minimum Suggested Ergonomic Adjustments
No matter what, office chairs tend to have a few standard features or variations on options. They generally go up and down to adjust to the user's height. Many office chairs also include a tilt mechanism, either knee tilt or synchro. From there, the sky's the limit. Office furniture innovation will continue to bring new advances, but for now, you can mix and match common features to your liking.
Additional Ergonomic Adjustments
The following adjustments are special features that help keep your body in an ideal position while you work. Although they are not necessary for everyone, these adjustments can alleviate specific problems and help with the overall support of your body.
Adjustable Seat Height: With adjustable seat height, shorter users can avoid the discomfort of their feet dangling above the ground, and taller users do not have to worry about their knees being raised in an uncomfortably high position. This adjustment should allow each individual to comfortably rest their feet on the ground. In addition to an adjustable seat height, we recommend shorter users sit in a petite office chair and larger users sit in a big and tall office chair to achieve maximum comfort.
Adjustable Seat Depth: Taller individuals need more space in a seat, and the seat depth adjustment will address this issue. Without enough room or support, a tall individual will feel undesirable pressure under his or her thighs. In contrast, shorter individuals require a smaller seat. If the seat is too large, a shorter user will feel pressure behind the knees. Typically, most chairs include 2” to 3” of seat depth adjustability to accommodate most users.
Adjustable Arm Height: Individuals will want to keep their arms parallel to the ground and in a position where they are resting comfortably and naturally on the armrests. You want to avoid shrugging or straining your shoulders, a problem seen when armrests are too high, and you will want to ensure that your elbows are not stressed, which is a result felt when the armrests are too low.
Adjustable Back Height: The back of your chair plays a very important role in supporting your spine throughout the work day. As the shape of the spine varies from one person to the next, ergonomic seating should include an adjustment for back height. This adjustment slides up and down—it should be adjusted so the chair’s lumbar curve fits into and supports the user’s lower back curve.
Adjustable Lumbar Support: Typically, you can find this adjustment via a ratcheting column on the back of the chair. This column can be moved up or down to suit the individual user.
Adjustable Headrest: A headrest gives the user a place to rest their head, thereby helping reduce the weight the neck must support during recline. If you are experiencing constant neck pain, a chair with a headrest may be a great choice for you.
Flip Arms: This adjustment makes it possible to flip the arms up and down or to the side. This feature allows for easier movement, whether the individual wants to move out of the chair easily or wants to get close to their working surface without the chair arms getting in the way.
Adjustable Arm Width: Arms should rest comfortably at a natural position, not too close or far away from the body. This adjustment ensures that individuals won’t feel discomfort from their sides pushing up against the arms of the chair. Likewise, this adjustment also ensures that people won’t need to strain to get their arms to reach the armrests.
Adjustable Arm Depth: Adjustable arm depth affects the forward and backward motion of the arms. Remember, the arms of your chair should support your elbows, not your wrists. Chairs with this feature are also less likely to bump into the user’s desk throughout the day, which is a plus!
Adjustable Arm Pivot: A pivoting action addresses the same issues that adjustable arm depth and width aim to solve. Pivoting arms can accommodate specific tasks, making it so that the arms of your chair won’t get in your way if you are working on a task or project that requires more space.
Adjustable Arm Pad Depth: Some users prefer to have their arms resting in plush comfort, while others require less padding. This adjustment lets you choose an option so your arms rest exactly as you desire.
Adjustable Arm Pad Pivot: Like adjustable arm pad depth, an adjustable arm pad pivot adds an extra level of cushioned comfort so that you can work on your projects with ease.
Adjustable Foot Ring Height: A foot ring offers a place for users to rest their feet when sitting on a stool. It is an especially important feature when the stool height cannot be adjusted or when the user is sitting at counter height, as the user will be unable to rest his or her feet on the ground. With an adjustable foot ring, all individuals may be accommodated with a place to rest their feet.
Synchro Tilt: Synchro tilt (short for synchronous) mechanisms allow the back and seat of a chair to move together in a 2:1 ratio. This is helpful when it comes to maintaining the proper posture while reclining. All users should have their feet placed flat on the ground when seated. With the synchro-tilt feature, a user can recline while still comfortably resting their feet flat on the ground.
Knee Tilt: A knee tilt mechanism allows the user’s feet to remain flat on the ground. To achieve this action, the pivot point for a knee tilt mechanism is at the front of the chair rather than in the middle of the seat like most office chairs. Because the user can keep his or her feet flat on the ground, no pressure is exerted on the back of the legs in the process, thus reducing fatigue. To achieve this, the pivot point for tilting is located at the front of the chair.
Single-Point Tilt: This feature is typically found on inexpensive office chairs and offers an unmodified tilt, maintaining the angle between the back and the seat. Adjustable tension can make this a more comfortable experience and typically aids in fidgeting as opposed to comfort and ergonomics. When possible, choose a chair with a synchro or knee-tilt mechanism instead.
Tilt Lock: A tilt lock control makes it possible for any individual to lock his or her chair in place during recline so that they won’t need to apply any pressure to the chair to get it to stay in the desired position.Adjustable Tilt Tension: This adjustment gives the user the power to determine how much force is needed to tilt or recline in the chair. Some users prefer little to no force, making it extremely easy to recline, while others prefer the opposite. This is a necessity in single-point tilt chairs.