The best home office chair for a back has lots of adjustments and support in the right areas. If you are working from home and spend a lot of the day sitting down a bad chair can make a bad back a lot worse. Poor support, lack of adjustment and the wrong sized chair can turn a niggle into agonizing pain.
Lumbar support for your back
Your back is curved in two directions so the back support of your chair should be too. The small of your back, your lumbar area, curves forwards and this space should be supported. The lumbar support should wrap around the sides too.
Getting the right sized chair is important. If the lumbar support is too high or too low this area flattens out and causes pain and stiffness with long periods of sitting. A good chair will have a height-adjustable seat and back to get a perfect fit.
The seat itself is often overlooked but the wrong shape and lack of adjustment mean torture for office workers. The seat should be flat. If the sides curve upwards they can push on your thigh bones and irritate the muscles in your pelvis.
The seat must be adjustable for depth and angle. The seat should be deep enough to support the lower thigh but not so deep as to press on the back of the knee. There is an increased risk of blood clots in the legs with long periods of sitting and anything that slows blood flow in the veins at the back of the knee is a problem. This is why sitting with your legs crossed or tucked under your seat is also a bad idea.
Protect your back with a tilt adjustment
There are two sitting postures at a desk – leaning forwards and leaning backwards. The seat should be at tilted differently in both cases. When you lean forward your knees want to drop slightly. If the seat doesn’t let this happen you have to round your back more and back pain can result. If the seat tilts forward you can keep your spine upright and take the pressure off the lumbar joints and discs. As you lean forward your back often comes away from the backrest naturally so the backrest is not so important in this position.
When you lean back in an office chair your back should contact the backrest and your lumbar spine should be supported. It is more comfortable if the seat also tilts backwards. In this position, your back is well supported and the muscles can relax which stops them getting too tired. The best ergonomic office chairs have a floating mechanism where the seat tilts back and forth with you. The tension on the tilt mechanism should be adjustable too to match your weight.
Best armrests for back and neck pain
The arms of the ideal office chair should be short enough so that the chair can get in close to the desk. If they are too long then you either have to shuffle forward on the seat and lose the benefits of the backrest or you lean forwards more and round your back and irritate the spine all the way up to your neck. This can also be a significant cause of neck pain and headaches as well as back pain.
The armrest of the chair must also be height adjustable. If they are too low you will find yourself slumping to rest your elbows. If they are too high they can get caught on the desk itself. It is better to have no armrests than ones that are too long and not adjustable.
Choice of castors
All office chairs have a five star base with either castors or, sometimes, glides. Glides are useful to keep a chair in place if used on a very slippery surface on used with a high chair. Castors are more common and vary according to the surface they are used on carpet or hard floors. They can easily be changed.
It is worth spending enough to get a good chair. Cheap chairs don’t last. A good office chair will be more comfortable and keep you more productive. It will prevent back, neck and shoulder pain and will last many years. As bits wear out, they can easily be replaced rather than buying a new chair.
Top tips for buying an office chair
- good lumbar support
- adjustable seat depth, tilt and tilt tension
- short, adjustable arms
- castors to suit flooring
- built to last
An example of a good ergonomic office chair is the BMA Axia from Posture People in Portslade, Brighton. We use these here at Sundial. They come in lots of different colours too. If you are a Sundial patient they will give you a 10% discount.