Best Chair for Sitting All Day

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Best Chair for Sitting All Day

You need the right chair to sit in all day long. As a chiropractor who has worked in the ergonomics field for three decades, I would say there isn’t a single chair that fits everyone, but there are components to a chair that you need to get right if you are sitting all day. 

As a general rule, the right office chair will help you maintain a neutral posture, which means sitting with your feet flat against the floor. Your pelvis should be slightly elevated above your knees, with your ears, shoulders, and hips in alignment.

Your seat needs to support different positions while you move. In other words, your chair needs to adapt to you and not the other way around.  This article will present the results of my decades of research into the components to consider when finding the best chair to sit in all day. I will list each of these components from the highest-ranking priority to the lowest:

8 Office Chair Essentials for Sitting All Day

1. Adjustable Seat Height

The gas cylinder in your chair is what makes seat height adjustable. It works by compressing air for a while, then releasing it as you sit down again. Most office chairs have a handle control.  

adjustable seat height

The gas cylinder is often overlooked when purchasing an ergonomic office chair, but it is one of the most important components of your chair. If your gas cylinder is correctly installed, it can be adjusted to match your body type and height.  

An adjustable footrest may be an option if you have inherited the chair and desk. If this is the case, however, I strongly suggest you consider a gas cylinder shock replacement. Gas cylinders are cheap and easy to replace.  

The following technical jargon will help you make an informed decision regarding gas shock cylinders:

Length of gas shock cylinders: 

  • The capacity of the cylinders ranges from 10 to 25 cm, depending on the chair type.
  • Most chairs come with a 13cm cylinder.
  • Manufacturers offer a choice between a 10cm, 13cm, or 15cm cylinder in most cases.

How do you measure a gas cylinder for an office chair?

  • Measure your height – Most manufacturers have a cylinder size that corresponds to your height.
  • Measurement is the travel of the seat, which is also called the stroke. 

Different classes in ergonomic chair gas lift cylinders:

A wide range of ergonomic chair gas lift cylinders is available, from Class 2 to 4. Class 3 and Class 4 are the most popular and are commonly recommended for their increased longevity. Here are the guidelines:

  • Class 3 gas cylinder is suggested for weights up to 150kg
  • Class 4 gas cylinder is suggested for weights up to 205kg.   

Are All Chair Shock Cylinders Universal?

The replacement cylinders for office chairs are usually universal. However, there are specific differences to keep in mind. Here’s what I’m suggesting:

  • Always consider what height for your seat
  • Also, ensure that your gas shock travel is smooth and noiseless. 

2. Forward Seat Tilt 

The best feature of any good office chair is the forward tilt. Some standards recommend up to 20° of forwarding tilt. A forward tilt allows you to adjust the chair’s seat angle at your discretion. By changing the seat tilt, the pressure on your back will be reduced. 

good vs bad seating posture wedge

Additionally, a healthy posture can also be easily achieved by sitting on a chair at the right angle. Besides, it helps you maintain a healthy posture while sitting. It can even improve blood circulation in your legs and feet.

A forward seat tilt positions your pelvis in a more neutral position which helps take the load off your spine and disperses your weight into your core muscles. A forward seat tilt encourages an active posture all day long.

If you don’t have this feature on your chair, I would strongly suggest that you consider sitting on a seat wedge. Make sure that the thicker part of the wedge is towards the back of the chair.

3. Ideal Seat Pan Depth 

In my clinical experience, I have found that the seat pan depth is the second most comfortable adjustment that you can make on your ergonomic office chair, next to the forward tilt. This comfort is primarily due to increased surface area.  

  • Short seat depth can cause pressure points, which may lead to back pain.  
  • Seats that are too long may limit blood flow to your legs and feet.

seat depth

On some chairs that offer it, you can adjust the seat pan forward and backwards about 130mm. Typically, this kind of adjustment is a one-time act, but in shared situations, it becomes essential.

How to set your seat pan depth:

  • Make sure that your back is tight against your backrest.  
  • There should be two to three fingers distance between your knees and the edge of your seat.

4. Backrest Tilt Adjustment

A standard office chair tilts its back 10 degrees; most modern models easily exceed this recommendation. I like this feature because it enables movement throughout your day. Remember, the best posture is a moving posture.  Your movement is your medicine!

Balance is the biggest issue here. There shouldn’t be a risk that the chair falls over backwards with this chair. It’s paramount to test this feature before purchasing an ergonomic office chair

backrest tilt

The reason is that we all are unique in our physical shape. If you are heavy in the top or taller, your weight will be higher in the chair, making it easier to lean too far backwards

A word of caution is that if you are exceptionally tall or top-heavy, you should not be using a chair with a high degree of backwards tilt.

5. Lumbar Support

The backrest should have the lumbar support set at about the L3/L4 vertebrae, depending on the width of the seat. 

  • Lumbar support that is too high can adversely affect the spine’s natural curvature (lordosis). 
  • Lumbar support that is too low may cause back pain as it will cause too much pressure on the base of your spine. 

natural latex lumbar pillow

The difference between people in the place of lumbar support in a seated posture is surprisingly minimal, therefore height adjustment is not critical. Despite this, the degree of resistance provided needs to be adjustable. The shape of the lumbar support can be altered with many designs on the market.

6. Synchronised Seat Mechanism 

In biomechanical jargon, coupled or synchronised motion is the movement along one axis (translation or rotation), with another motion along a second axis.  

In plain English, this mechanism enables the backrest to synchronise with the seat so that when you recline, the small of your back remains supported. Synchronised mechanisms combine both seat and back tilt into one function. If the seat is moved, the backrest also moves, usually in a ratio of 2 to 1.

I have found that most people have little or no knowledge of how to adjust their chairs (apart from the gas lift), and however many knobs and adjustments are on a chair, the less likely users are to be able to set the chair up correctly. A proper seat mechanism takes the guesswork out of the equation. 

7. 4D Armrests

With adjustable armrests, the user balances stability with getting close to the desk. If you don’t get your armrest right, odds are that you may develop neck and shoulder pain over time.  

office chair armrests

The 4D armrests are the most comfortable and flexible in terms of height, width, and pivot.  4D Armrests are adjustable in 4 dimensions:

  • The armrest can be adjusted by height (up to 10cm)
  • Forwards or backwards 
  • Left or right
  • Sideway angle 

Always look for 4D armrests that can lock the desired position.

8. Backrest Height Adjustment

A backrest without the ability to adjust the lumbar position is rarely desirable for the end-user. However, a study reveals that a backrest needs to be easy to adjust or people won’t change it. 

You will want a seat that enables users to adjust the backrest by lifting it and clicking the mechanism in place. Adjustments are typically not necessary after the chair is first set up for a specific person.

9. Tension Adjustment

By adjusting the tension knob or wheel, the chair acts as a cushion for push back against tilt. Therefore, you are more comfortable and in complete control of the chair. You can adjust the resistance to your body weight and move freely and comfortably all day.

10. Ideal Seat Material 

That soft foam or mesh feeling can indicate sloppy mesh fitting or an excessively low density of the foam. The foam density or mesh fitting needs to allow a certain degree of conformity, but you may develop back pain over time if it is too soft or firm. To help chairs maintain their shape and resilience, a certain density and thickness of foam is required. 

 

  • Since the seat typically bears the maximum load, the density of foam on the seat usually surpasses the density of foam on the backrest.  
  • A seat profile with a thinner body needs a higher density of foam. 
  • Office chairs with two foams, softer on top and firm underneath, are practical. 

11. Office Chair Castors

A soft-tyred castor is usually suitable for use both on hard floors and most office carpets. However, with the advent of more home workers, a hard-tyred castor is designed only for use on thicker carpets. 

Castors allow you to roll your office chair around and extend your reach easily and quickly. However, you must keep a few things in mind:

  • A soft-tyred castor is generally the better choice if you are uncertain which type to buy. 
  • Another option would be a brake castor, which keeps the chair from moving when you stand. The chair stays in place when you take your weight off it, and the friction brake keeps it from going too far.

Takeaway

It’s important to have the right office chair for your work environment, and there are a few elements of the perfect seat that you need to get right if you sit all day. In general, this means sitting with your feet flat against the floor and maintaining a neutral posture throughout.

A good ergonomic desk will also help by ensuring proper height so as not to cause neck strain or back pain from hunching over too long at a time. For more helpful information on how to maintain a healthy posture while working in an office setting visit our blog today!

Sources

  1. Helander, M.G. and Zhang, L., 1997. Field studies of comfort and discomfort in sitting. Ergonomics, 40(9), pp.895-915.
  2. Wang, X., Cardoso, M. and Beurier, G., 2018. Effects of seat parameters and sitters’ anthropometric dimensions on seat profile and optimal compressed seat pan surface. Applied ergonomics, 73, pp.13-21.   
  3. Janssen-Potten, Y.J., Seelen, H.A., Drukker, J., Huson, T. and Drost, M.R., 2001. The effect of seat tilting on pelvic position, balance control, and compensatory postural muscle use in paraplegic subjects. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation, 82(10), pp.1393-1402.  
  4. Bowers-Carnahan, R., Carnahan, T., Tallis-Crump, R., Crump, R., Faulkner, D., Martin, P., Sanford, L. and Walters, J., 1995. User perspectives on seat design. SAE transactions, pp.805-810.   
  5. Groenesteijn, L., Vink, P., de Looze, M. and Krause, F., 2009. Effects of differences in office chair controls, seat and backrest angle design in relation to tasks. Applied ergonomics, 40(3), pp.362-370.   
  6. Harrison, D.D., Harrison, S.O., Croft, A.C., Harrison, D.E. and Troyanovich, S.J., 2000. Sitting biomechanics, part II: optimal car driver’s seat and optimal driver’s spinal model. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 23(1), pp.37-47.     
  7. Jeong, B.Y. and Yoon, A., 2014. Ergonomics of office seating and postures. Journal of the Ergonomics Society of Korea, 33(2), pp.167-174.
**As a service to our readers, Axial Chairs provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of the last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.
Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Founder

My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort.

With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience in Ireland as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sitting for living a happy and healthy life.

I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and I am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.

 

Dr Lawrence Woods

My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort. With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sleep for living a happy and healthy life. I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.

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