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How to Properly Use Your Ergonomic Chair

09 January 2023

It's true that having an ergonomic chair is a great place to start when it comes to improving your posture and comfort while at work. But merely owning one isn't enough—if you want to fully maximize its potential, it's important to adjust the chair correctly.

Adjusting features such as seat height, backrest tension, armrest position, and lumbar support can have a profound impact on providing optimal posture support, improving circulation, enhancing productivity, and reducing fatigue during extended periods of sitting.

In this article, we'll look at how to properly adjust each part of an ergonomic chair so you can get the full benefits of using one. We'll also discuss additional tips for setting up your workstation for optimal health and well-being.

How to Correctly Adjust Your Office Chair

If you're using an ergonomic office chair and you're still feeling uncomfortable when sitting, it's likely that the chair needs to be adjusted properly.

Here are some major adjustments you can make to your seat to achieve a comfortable, correct posture while working.

The Arm Rest

The armrest supports your elbows and arms so that they don't hang loosely and strain your shoulders and upper back.

Most ergonomic chairs come with height-adjustable armrests that allow you to adjust how high or low the armrest sits. Some models come with depth adjustment features as well, which allow you to move the armrest closer or farther away from your body, which helps in finding a comfortable fit for different body types.

How to Adjust the Armrest Height

Getting the right armrest height is an important part of a comfortable experience. To get the right fit, start by sitting in a neutral pose, shoulders relaxed, and hang your hands freely to your sides. Adjust the armrest height to the level of your elbows.

Now, when you rest your arms on the armrest, the angle between your forearm and upper arm should be around 90º, and your hands should float comfortably over the work surface.

Remember to adjust both armrests to ensure they are even, as having different heights can cause discomfort.

How to Adjust the Armrest Depth

Depending on your physique, you'll want to adjust the armrest width or pivot around you so that they lay comfortably next to your body without interfering with your ability to get out of the seat. Ensure that the distance between both armrests is almost in line with your shoulders.

For those with a slender physique, drawing the armrests inwards towards the body may help prevent discomfort, while broader individuals who need more space will benefit from moving them further away.

Note: The armrest should not interfere with the movements of your arms, nor should it prevent you from coming close to the work desk. If this is the case, simply lower your armrests and move your chair to the distance you desire. Working far from the desk will have more dire consequences.

The Seat Pan

The seat pan is the foundation of your ergonomic seat, providing support for your weight while sitting at a desk. It is an essential part of how long you can sit comfortably in a particular office chair.

Adjustable seat pans allow users to customize the height, width, angle, and overall positioning around their individual preferences for maximum comfort. Here's the recommended setting for the various adjustments:

Seat Height

Adjusting the height of an ergonomic seat is an essential step to getting your chair set up perfectly according to your height. Whether you are tall or short, a seat that ranges from 16 to 21 inches from the ground should meet the adjustment needs of most users.

To adjust the seat height, start by standing up straight next to your chair and adjusting it so that the top of the seat pan is just below your kneecaps - this will give you a good starting position for finding the perfect adjustment for you.

Once seated, ensure your feet can fully rest flat on the ground and your legs create a 90º angle. If you cannot achieve this position and lowering your seat any further isn't possible, we recommend using a footrest to keep things comfortable.

Seat Depth

Adjusting the seat depth helps to determine how far away from or close to the backrest you will be sitting, as well as ensuring a comfortable position that doesn't cut off circulation (which occurs when the depth is too deep) or cause excessive pressure on your knees (occurs when the depth is too shallow).

The ideal seat depth should leave a 3-finger width space (2-4 inches) between the front edge of your seat and the back of your knees when you sit with your back flat against the backrest. For shorter people, pulling their seat pan closer to the chair back may be necessary, while taller people may need it further away to attain this recommended position.

The Lumbar Support

The lumbar region of your spine, located just below the rib cage, has an exaggerated curve known as the lordotic curvature. This natural curvature of the lower back helps to distribute body weight evenly throughout all parts of the spine and reduces pressure on individual vertebrae. Sitting for extended periods without proper support can compromise this essential lordotic curve, leading to poor posture or even chronic back pain.

The lumbar support in an ergonomic chair has been designed with this important anatomical feature in mind.

Typically consisting of either a cushion or an adjustable bracket that fits into a pre-determined position at the lower back area – it works by supporting your natural neutral curvature with its curved shape. This distributes your weight evenly throughout all regions of your lower back area, which prevents fatigue and too much strain on any single section.

What is the Perfect Position to Set Your Lumbar Support

In an ideal setting, your lumbar support should be adjustable in height and depth to provide an optimal level of comfort and best fit your unique body shape.

A good rule of thumb is that your lumbar support should be placed in such a way as to fit the natural curvature of your lower spine when you're sitting upright.

To locate this area, sit up straight and pay attention to the small of your back, a few inches above your belt line or waistline. If you can feel a slight inward bend –this is usually where your lumbar support should go. Adjust the height and depth of the lumbar support so this area rests here.

You'll know you've found the perfect spot when the lumbar support fills in the gap caused by your lower spine, and the area rests flush against your back without pushing too much on your lower back. It should provide some pressure on your lower back – not too little or too much – but just enough to keep it secure without feeling uncomfortable or overly stretched out.

The Neck/Headrest

The neck/headrest of an ergonomic chair is a key component for comfort and proper posture, as it supports the head and upper neck when reclining, reducing tension built up in the shoulders and torso.

By resting your head on the headrest, you force yourself into pushing your shoulders back against the backrest, creating a better overall posture. Additionally, this position will raise the diaphragm, allowing you to breathe more easily.

The correct height and tilt also help to keep your head at eye level with the monitor for better viewing capabilities.

For the best results, look for a neck/headrest that allows you to lift or lower as well as tilt so that it conforms perfectly to the different neck and head positions when sitting in different postures.

How Should You Position the Headrest on an Ergonomic Seat?

When it comes to positioning the headrest on an ergonomic seat, the aim is to have a 0º tilt on your neck, which is the most neutral position. This means that when sitting in the chair, your head should rest in line with your back and neck.

To accomplish this, adjust the headrest so that it sits at the base of your head and provides much-needed neck support—neither too far forward that it pushes your head out of alignment nor too far back that you have to lean into it.

The Backrest

Its primary purpose is to support the weight and movement of the upper torso, allowing you to relax, reduce pressure on your back, neck, and shoulders and maintain correct posture for extended periods.

Unlike a typical chair with a fixed upright backrest, almost all ergonomic chairs come equipped with adjustable backrest features that allow for more personalized setup options. This Includes

Adjustable Backrest Angle

It allows you to adjust the angle between the seat pan and backrest.

What is the Recommended Backrest Angle When Working?

The general recommendation is to have a somewhat upright sitting posture where the angle between your torso and thighs is greater than 90º and provides firm support, typically around 100 – 110º.

Reclining too far could promote slouching, while remaining too upright may increase pressure on your lower back muscles.

Adjustable Backrest Height

It lets you manually adjust the height of the backrest relative to the seat pan to suit your body shape.

What is the Correct Positioning?

It should be at a height that allows you to lean back comfortably and lightly against it while still providing enough support for your lower and mid-back up to your shoulder blades. You want to make sure that your spine can get full contact with the curved surface of the seat

The Wheel Casters

The wheel casters are designed to let the user easily move and adjust their chair position as needed while sitting in it. Wheel casters are great if you prefer working from different areas throughout your workspace—you don't have to constantly get in and out of your seat whenever you need to move slightly.

They also make rearranging furniture much more manageable since no heavy lifting is required-simply push your chair across any room surface!

In addition, modern wheel caster designs often feature locking systems. By temporarily fixing the caster in place, this feature helps reduce movement when pressure is applied so that you can get into a more comfortable position without having the entire chair slide underneath you. It also adds stability for safety, which is particularly important if there are children or pets nearby who may accidentally bump into your area from time to time.

Have Your Desk at the Correct Height

It's important to think about more than just your chair when it comes to achieving the perfect office setup. Ensuring that your desk is at the appropriate height can make a massive difference in terms of maintaining proper posture and avoiding any of the associated aches, pains, and strains that come with a day at the office.

On the other hand, having an incorrect desk height might force you to maintain a suboptimal seating position, leading to slouching and poor posture.

Desks with a fixed height can be limiting, so if you have one of these, consider investing in a standing desk converter or maybe even a sit-and-stand desk. This way, you can adjust the height depending on how you've adjusted your seat.