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The not-so-technical guide to picking an ergonomic chair

05 Apr 2016

Every manufacturer's got the one chair they consider the gold standard of ergonomic chairs. Then you’ve got the knock-offs and the generic models that flood the market. But beyond the obvious aesthetic differences, it can be hard to differentiate the technical elements that make each chair unique. 

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The Ergonomic Chair check-list


A task chair should be able to accommodate users of different heights. A pneumatic height adjustment is virtually standard now. This allows your arms to be stretched out on your work surface, and your feet to be supported by the floor, thus relying less on your knees for support. Your legs should lie parallel to the ground.
Most manufacturers provide a gas lift mechanism for the height adjustment. You might want to check the weight rating of the lift to ensure it supports larger framed individuals.

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Seat Depth

An underrated feature in our opinion. Seat depth and seat height adjustment work together to provide you an ideal seating position. A key element to your seating position is your upper leg - the part resting on the seat pad. Your legs should never extend beyond 2 inches from the end of the seat ; it puts too much pressure on the back of your knees. Too less, and you’ll be affecting your blood flow. So even if your seat height is correct, you’ll still experience discomfort due to your legs not being supported.

Adjustable armrest

What most users aren’t aware of is that your arms take on the stress of your spine while sitting. An arm rest reduces that pressure on your lower back. Padded arm-rests also ensure that your elbow rests softly without causing pain from contact with the bone. Resting elbows allows for easier reach.
3D Arms are a great feature available on the higher-end chairs. They allow for individuals of various width, and can even moved out of the way should the user decide to sit on a perched position.


The lumbar area of your spine shifts throughout the course of the day, and depending on how each individual sits. A good lumbar support will support the natural inward curve of the spine. This promotes good posture, and compensates for weakening lumbar muscles over time.
A basic lumbar support is stationary and is simply a curve to support the lower back. An advanced one would be the Asymmetric Adjustable Support ­, allowing for adjustment on either side of the spine. A few high-end models offer a lumbar pump, which is fully customizable to even the firmness of the support.

Recline (Synchro mechanism)

Experts dictate that movement is healthy. Sitting stationary for a long duration of time is unhealthy. Recline allows us to change position, enable blood flow and relieve pressure on the spinal disks. Synchro tilt has become the norm for most high-quality task chairs. Simply put - the back tilts at double the angle with the seat when reclines. Pressure on the knees is reduced, allowing for better lumbar support with lower reclines. Automatic tension control is an advanced feature where the mechanism automatically compensates for the user’s weight, meaning a perfectly balanced body.

Besides the above, the most important investment you can make is the effort to keep active and move around as much as possible. It’s important to change your posture / position as often as possible to avoid MSCD’s or RSD’s which is plaguing the workspaces today. A little bit of a proactive effort will go a long in maintaining your health.

The Total Office provides work space solutions focusing on ergonomic and collaborative products that meet global environmental standards.

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