What is an Ergonomic Chair?
An ergonomic chair is designed to accommodate a range of people; however, there is no guarantee that the chair is equally well suited for all body types. The perfect chair for a 6'2" dentist might not be as comfortable (and might potentially even be harmful) if used for extended periods by a 5'3" CEO. A chair only becomes "ergonomic" when it specifically accommodates a person's body type, his/her workstation, and the tasks that will be performed there on a daily basis. Finding the right chair is possible, however, it is not always easy.
Why is finding the right chair so important?
Nowadays, most people sit for a majority of the time that they are awake. People sit while having breakfast, during their commute to work, during class, in meetings, at their desks, during dinner, and at home while watching TV. A good number of people also sit at work while operating machines which the technology of today has developed to replace most manual work. Although sitting may require less physical effort than standing or walking, sitting actually puts a lot of stress on the lumbar area. This increased stress combined with the effects of a more sedentary lifestyle can lead to many health problems.
What do I need to know when selecting a good ergonomic chair?
Selecting a good chair is an important step in helping to prevent the health problems associated with sitting for long periods of time. With the ergonomics approach, sitting is viewed as a specific and specialized activity which is greatly influenced by the way a seated person interacts with his/her immediate area.
There are several basic concepts that should be considered when selecting one's ergonomic chair:
One chair does not fit all. A person's body type must be held in consideration when selecting a chair so that it does not strain one part of the body while fitting another.
The optimal seat height will vary based on a person's body type, but a good way to determine what your perfect chair height would be is to stand next to the chair and adjust the height so that the highest point of the seat is just below your kneecap.
Maintenance and repair costs should also be taken into consideration when choosing an ergonomic chair. Check with the manufacturer for items to inspect for and how often an inspection should be done.
What are the features of a good chair?
Adjustability - Check to see that the seat height is adjustable.
Seat height range - Check whether the seat height can be adjusted to the height recommended for the people who will be using it.
Backrest - Check to see that the backrest is adjustable both vertically and in the front/backward direction. Also check to see if the chair has firm lumbar support.
Seat depth - Check to see if the seat depth is well fitted or adjustable.
Armrests - Check that the armrests are adjustable or even removable.
Stability - Check how stable the chair is; a five-point base is recommended.