Does Your Office Chair Need an Armrest?
As I perform ergonomic assessments with various companies, I often get the question of “Should office chairs have armrests?” This is a great question and the answer may surprise you. In this article, I will address all of your concerns and help you decide whether you need an armrest.
As a general rule, armrests are better for office chairs to support your back and posture. Armrests help you sit up straight while providing extra support to keep the weight off of your neck, shoulders, and upper body. Armrests relieve lower limb pressure and help you get up from sitting easier.
Most likely, if you are reading this article, you are in need of an ergonomic task chair that’s adjustable and you intend to use consistently. If you are deciding for yourself whether or not you should have armrests, I have over 30 years of ergonomic design experience so I will help you decide in this article. On the other hand, if chairs are being purchased for an entire office, then no doubt yes.
It has been found that we sit in over a dozen different positions a day. We instinctively try to put our arms on the armrests whenever we sit, if no armrests are available, we use our laps. If your chair has armrests, your hands will naturally gravitate to those. This is beneficial because being in one position can be very tiring for our joints and can ultimately lead to repetitive injuries. Essentially, the armrest is used merely for relaxing – when you want to sit in a chair, roll away from your desk, and move about.
In general, I would recommend armrests to my clients, but they are not the most important ergonomic features to have.
7 Reasons for Having Armrests:
- Some form of support can be used to reduce the strain on our muscles when we use our hands to carry out an activity.
- Reduce back stress by easing the load placed on the back by the weight of our arms and hands.
- Relief of neck, shoulder, and arm burdens.
- Positivity can lead to better postures.
- Stabilizes posture
- Relieve lower limb pressure and help you get up from sitting faster and easier.
- Prevents undue loading on the seat.
Should Armrests Be Level With Desk?
Armrests should be at least 2cm-3cm higher than your desk. Adjust a chair and keyboard height for an elbow angle of 90 degrees and your arms to be close to your sides. You should be able to hang your arms in a relaxed posture without hunching towards your ears. If you do, take a seat at a higher height or lower your keyboard.
Are Chairs Without Arms Comfortable?
For long periods of time, armless chairs are not very comfortable due to their lack of support for the forearms. Feel how comfortable an armchair is once you place your arms on the arms.
Should Armrests Go Under the Table?
The table should have enough space for your legs, but not for your armrests. Armrests should generally be at least 2-3cm above the table to prevent wrist flexion problems such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. To simplify it, a desk at the appropriate height should be set beneath your elbows when seated at a desk that has its armrests properly adjusted.
When You Should Remove Armrests
In several of the offices I’ve been in recently, the chairs don’t have adjustable armrests for some of their desk workers. As a result, employees often sit on chairs without them and that explains their behaviour.
In my opinion, armrests that are fixed in position or limited in height, width, and rotation will not fit everyone correctly, and they can’t be used properly. Poor movement patterns and breakdown due to those awkward positions could result in pain or worse, even health issues. In this case, the best course of action is to remove the armrests and thereby invalidate any reported benefits.
It’s important to remember that fully adjustable 4D armrests in terms of height, width, rotation, and forward/reverse positions on a good ergonomic chair are part of an ergonomically correct work environment.
So, if you really want to upgrade your workstation to be healthier and more productive, choose a four-dimensional armrest to ensure that your chair fits perfectly to your body.
So, should you have armrests on your office chair? It depends. If the majority of people in your company are short and don’t require a lot of space to work comfortably then an armless chair will suffice.
However, if most employees need more elbow room to type or write then it may be time for some new furniture with arms! We provide ergonomic assessments as well as help from our team of experts about what is best for all types of body shapes and sizes so contact us today to schedule a consultation.