Bye Bye Back Pain: 5 Tips For Choosing the Perfect Office Chair

By Stefanie Neyland, Small Business Content Developer at

There's no two ways about it—back pain is the worst. There’s nothing more unpleasant than that distracting dull ache, and the unfortunate truth is that the sensation is an all-too-familiar one. Now we have some good news and some bad news for you. Let’s start with the bad news: it’s likely not the last time that you’ll experience some form of office-related back pain. Now for the good news: there are some simple things you can do to make it a less frequent occurrence, and it all boils down to choosing the right chair.

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, here are five top tips on what you should be looking for in your next model.


1. It’s all about the seat pan

When looking for an office chair, always look for a model with a comfortable seat pan that’s 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. Luckily most ergonomic chairs these days have a seat pain with a waterfall front that prevents this from happening, and are also contoured to allow even weight distribution.


2. Hip check

Ensure that your chair provides enough hip room to allow you to sit back comfortably on the seat. Those that don’t have enough hip room can make you sit too far forwards and can lead to problems later on due to a lack of thigh support.

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3. Support the lumbar

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’re the primary user of the chair, a fixed lumbar support may be just fine—so long as it feels comfortable.

4. Think long term

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 back and hip fatigue.


5. Don’t forget the covering

Give some thought to what kind of chair covering is most suitable for your preferences and lifestyle. 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.

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By Andrew Patricio

May 21, 2014