Posture is a very important part of every human life. It generally describes the position in which we stay when we carry out certain tasks. With ergonomic chairs, you can basically maintain various postures while at work without suffering from body aches. In this article, we will be discussing ergonomic chairs in details; including what to checkout for before purchasing one, and how to care for it.
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What is an Ergonomic Chair?
An ergonomic chair is basically a chair designed to be adjustable at multiple, if not all sections. The basic difference between an ergonomic chair and other types of chairs is that you cannot adjust other chairs to suit your different postures when working for longer hours at a stretch. Meanwhile, for ergonomic chairs, you can practically adjust the chair to fit your various sitting postures. If you are someone who does the normal 9-5 jobs in an office sitting in one position, you know that it is better for you to be on an adjustable chair, than on a regular fixed chair.
Finding the right Ergonomic Chair
If you have never purchased an ergonomic chair before then you can easily be in a dilemma on how to find the right one. First of all, it is a good thing that you have decided to purchase this sort of chair because you will obviously start noticing difference in your productivity levels. However, you shouldn’t just go out and purchase one of these chairs because it is tagged “ergonomic”. You need to check the design specifications of the chair to be sure it will match with your height, body size, and your workstation. Although the chairs can be adjusted to suit a variety of people, these adjustments have limit. It is very possible that you are not within the adjustable range of the chair. Knowing this, the first thing you should check before going on to purchase any ergonomic chair is the height range, width, and adaptability to your workstation. Once you have these information, you can go on to purchase the chair. However, if you want more versatility from your ergonomic chairs, you’ll need to check out for the following features discussed below.
Complete Features of an Ideal Ergonomic Chair
Just as discussed above, a chair needs to be adjustable in almost all sections before it can be termed “ergonomic” Some manufacturers, however, do not produce chairs that have all round adjustments probably due to the cost it will incur. Such chairs may still be referred to as Ergonomic. However, if you really want to enjoy the full benefits of an ergonomic chair, you must consider the following features.
Backrest Height Adjustment
The Backrest height adjustment is one you are likely to find on all ergonomic chairs, whether it is a budget type, or an expensive one. It is also one of the most important features in the chair as it helps relieve back aches and pains. Apart from aches and pains, it also allows you take a short nap while at work. Some of the chairs can be reclined to as low as 180 degrees essentially turning it into a mini mattress. Some would not recline as low as 180 degrees, but will be at an angle where you can easily rest your head and take a short nap.
Most ergonomic chairs are designed with headrests. Some are built into the top area of the backrest, while some are made visible on the Fiouter side. The headrest is an integral part of all ergonomic chairs. In fact, it may be difficult to find an ergonomic chair that doesn’t feature a headrest; whether inbuilt, or positioned outside. It does an important job of keeping your head at a slight angle to the rest of your body. This eliminates all forms of neck ache or pains that could arise from improper posture.
Seat Height Adjustment
The seat height adjustment is another important requirement you need to check out for in an ergonomic chair. Although, not as important as the back rest adjustment, it helps shift or distribute the weight of your body evenly across the seat of the chair. It also helps put you at a height where you can easily interact with the desk or table in front of you. If the seat is too low, you may be forced to stretch your feet outwardly on the floor. If it is too high, your legs will dangle, and you will feel more of your body weight on your thighs, than on your buttocks. With proper seat height adjustment, you can put yourself in the best comfortable position for your current task.
Seat Depth Adjustment
The seat depth adjustment allows you to adjust the angle of your ergonomic chair seat. It can be adjustment in such a way that the front of the seat tilts upward a bit, while the bottom tilts downward at the same time. It can also be adjusted in the opposite direction. This adjustment helps relieve strains that you are likely to feel at your buttocks or thighs after sitting at a certain position for a long period of time. Tilting the seat backwards a bit helps relieve aches at your thigh region, while tilting the seat forward helps relieve strains at your buttocks.
This feature is viewed more like a “plus” by manufacturers and consumers. Not all ergonomic chairs come with a swivel base, but it doesn’t mean the chair isn’t qualified to be called an ergonomic chair. You can forego this feature if you do not work on a desk that requires you to turn from time to time. An ergonomic chair is supposed to make you feel comfortable, and at the same time, ease you of aches and pains. The absence of a swivel base may reduce your comfort, but it definitely has nothing to do with your health. That being said, if your ergonomic chair comes with a swivel base, good for you; if it doesn’t, you probably will be fine without it
Arm Rest Adjustment
The Arm rest adjustment is another important feature as it helps support the weight of your arms when carrying out tasks related to reading, typing or writing. If the seat of an ergonomic chair is adjustable, then the arm rest needs to be adjustable as well. This is simply because a tall man is more likely to have long arms, while a short man will most likely have short arms. If the seat height of the ergonomic chair can be adjusted, and the arm rest cannot be adjusted, there will be some irregularities in sitting posture. The same thing applies, if the seat height is fixed, and the arm rest is adjustable
This requirement list will never be complete without lumbar support. Lumbar support is usually built into the backrest of most ergonomic chairs; while some are placed on the outside. The job of the lumbar support is to add a bit of pressure to the lumbar region of your back. You can think of it as an invisible palm which exerts a pushing force to the lower area of your back. It basically feels like you are getting an automatic massage on your back even as you sit for long hours on the chair.
A few ergonomic chairs out there, especially the budget ones are not designed with a footrest. While footrest on an ergonomic chair may not be necessary in some working environments, it is absolutely necessary in some. If for instance, your job is such that you need to get up from your chair at intervals to attend to some tasks in the office, you may not need a chair with a footrest. If however, you are more like a manager in your office and rarely get out of your seat, then you should purchase an ergonomic chair with a footrest. The reason is simple. By virtue of you not getting up from your seat in almost your entire time at work, you will be prone to aches at various area of your body. A footrest in combination with the other features discussed in this post will enable you avoid such aches and possible health issues that may arise.
Just like the swivel base discussed above, casters are not a compulsory feature to check out for when purchasing your ergonomic chair. The only time you can be particular about purchasing an ergonomic chair with casters is when you have a broad table in which you have to move items from one area to the other. If on the other hand, the area you need to switch your activity within is fairly large (like from one end of the office to the other), it will be better for you to stand up from your seat and walk down, rather than move roll the chair on the floor. The few seconds it will take you to stand and walk down will help stretch stiff areas of your body thereby impacting positively on your health and general wellbeing.
How to Care for your Ergonomic chairs
Maintenance is the only way one can get any product to live to its designed lifetime and even beyond. A lot of people think maintenance is carried out only for mechanical parts like car engines, and electrical equipment. That is definitely wrong. Products that use sophisticated mechanism such as ergonomic chairs need to be cared for in order for them to last several years. The following are simple ways by which you can care for your ergonomic chairs and double their designed lifetime.
Don’t overload: If the specifications of an ergonomic chair states that it supports a maximum weight of 200 Lbs., don’t allow someone with a higher weight sit on it. This can instantaneously weaken the metal support and lead to damage.
Oil the metal parts and joints: Metals are susceptible to corrosion and joints can easily become stiff, hence the reason why you need to keep these parts oiled. Moving parts in all equipment are usually the first to get worn out or damaged, so if you can always focus on these areas of your ergonomic chair, you will definitely prevent it from getting damaged anytime soon.
Clean leather cushion always: If your ergonomic chair is the type that is designed with leather and cushion all round, then you should know that you have more work to do in terms of maintenance. Before and after using the chair each day, make sure you use a soft damp cloth to wipe all areas of the leather cushion clean. It should be kept dry at all times too, because leather attracts dust and dust is its enemy.
Don’t play on your chair: I know how tempting it can be turn your ergonomic chair into a playground. Please don’t do this! Swiveling on the chair continuously or turning the chair into a train will cause the casters and swivel base to wear out quite faster than you would expect.
If you were previously wondering what an ergonomic chair is and why you would need it, I hope you have been able to understand how it works now, and you can decide if you want it in your office or not. Now you also know what to look out for before purchasing any. The truth is that most office make use of ergonomic chairs. It may not be one of the sophisticated ones with all the features discussed in this article, but it does the basic job of preventing back aches. Depending on your duties at work and on your budget, you can decide if you would want a simple ergonomic chair, or a sophisticated one.