Home Comforts: Five Top Tips for Selecting an Office Chair

Edited by Stefanie Neyland, Small Business Content Developer at Bizlaunch.com

There’s nothing worse or more debilitating than the dull ache of back pain, and the unfortunate truth is that for those who work in an office, the sensation is likely an all too familiar one. Your average nine-to-fiver spends on average 2080 hours at their desk per year, and if you own your own business, it wouldn’t be a far stretch of the imagination to almost double that figure.

The good news is that there are things you can do to avoid that dreaded backache. A good ergonomic office chair promotes good posture and is designed to reduce the amount of strain on a number of the body’s pressure points. So if you’re tired of the aches and pains associated with spending every waking hour at your desk and you’re in the market for a new office chair, here are top five tips from the Ontario Chiropractic Association on what to look for.


1. Seat Pan Comfort and Shape

When you sit in an office chair, the seat pan should be comfortable to sit on and at least one inch wider than your hips and thighs on either side. The pan also shouldn’t be too long for your legs, otherwise it will catch you behind the knees or prevent you from leaning fully back against the lumbar support. Most ergonomic chairs have a seat pan with a waterfall front that prevents this from happening, and are also contoured to allow even weight distribution.


2. Think Adjustably

Always ensure that your chair is pneumatically adjustable so you can adjust the seat pan height while you’re sitting on the chair. You should be able to adjust the height of the seat pan so that the front of your knees are level—or slightly below level—when your feet are firmly on the ground. In most cases, there should be no need for you to use a footrest.


3. Lumbar Support is Key

Many chairs have cushioned lumbar supports that can be adjusted up and down and forwards and backwards to best fit your shape. If your office chair will be used by several people, this level of adjustment may be required. However, if you are the primary user of the chair, then a fixed lumbar support may be acceptable if it feels comfortable.


4. Don’t Forget the Hips

A chair that doesn’t provide enough hip room can make you sit too far forwards on the seat pan. Sitting in this way doesn’t provide enough thigh support which can in turn lead to problems later on.


5. Long Term Strategy

Think about how the chair will feel after an hour or two. Low-density foam seat pans can become permanently deformed after long-term use, which can affect cushioned support leading to discomfort, imbalance and hip and back fatigue.


Bonus Tip: Chair Covers 101

There’s a whole range of upholstery materials available, each of which has its own benefits and disadvantages. Vinyl and vinyl-like coverings are easy to clean and spill resistant, but they don't breathe; which means that if the chair begins to heat up under the thighs, uncomfortable amounts of moisture can accumulate. Cloth upholstery is the most common covering, but it’s less resistant to spills and more difficult to clean. A cloth covered seat pan can also become warm and moisture-laden, and cloth covered foam seat pans can be a significant source of dust mite allergens. When selecting your chair covering, consider any cleaning and maintenance issues and plan appropriately.

Check out the Staples ‘Big Chair Event’, beginning on Wednesday May 22nd 2013.

By Adam

May 27, 2013