How an Office Chair Backrest Works

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Updated December 10, 2022

Your office chair’s backrest can either improve or decrease your overall comfort, especially if you sit in your chair all day long. This is why it’s important to know what kind of options are available today and how they can help with ergonomics. Keep reading to learn more about adjustable and reclining backrests for the top office chairs on the market.


  • Office chairs with adjustable and reclining backrests are more ergonomic.
  • Reclining chairs are usually better for back pain and comfort than tilting chairs.
  • Having adjustable lumbar support helps prevent back pain.

What You Should Know About Office Chair Backrests

An office chair’s backrest is often overlooked simply because it’s an essential part of the chair. However, it has more to do with your overall comfort than you might realize, and our goal is to help you find the most comfortable office chair for your needs. But before you find a chair with a suitable backrest it is important that you also choose the right size office chair as this will affect your comfort too. So it is important to understand what size office chair to get as well as how to sit correctly in an office chair. Note that, if you are looking into getting a high-end chair, it is also important to know the differences in how Herman Miller sizes their Aeron chairs. Don’t worry, we have an article on Herman Miller Aeron Size B vs C to help you understand this.

How Office Chair Backrests Affect Ergonomics

Without the proper support for your back, you’ll find your level of discomfort rising quickly over long periods. There are many office chairs with backrests that simply provide a place for you to lean back, but they, unfortunately, don’t give the proper back support. An ergonomic backrest will offer adjustable lumbar support, breathable fabric, and either tilt or recline options. Most standard office chairs feature a tilt mechanism that allows both the backrest and seat to lean slightly backward. However, in this article, we cover ergonomic office chairs with adjustable backrests and lumbar support, as well as those with reclining backrests.


Without the proper support for your back, you’ll find your level of discomfort rising quickly over long periods.

Everything You Need to Know About Adjustable Backrests

Office chairs with adjustable backrests allow you to adjust your lumbar support height and the overall height of the backrest. With this kind of adjustability, you can custom fit your office chair to your preferences and achieve a higher level of ergonomics and comfort. If you purchase an office chair with both an adjustable backrest and adjustable lumbar support, then you’ll get the most ergonomic experience possible, which enables you to sit in your chair for extended periods. Just be sure that you are also selecting the correct size for your height and build so you aren’t sliding out of your office chair.

Everything You Need to Know About Reclining Backrests

Office chairs with reclining backrests are typically considered more ergonomic than those with just a tilting mechanism. This is because they can allow you to lay horizontally flat for quick naps or watching movies. Reclining backrests also will enable you to achieve a 135-degree angle, which studies have found to be the best angle to relieve back pain. If you like both the reclining and tilting features, you can find office chairs with both, but they tend to be a little more expensive than other options. However, if you don’t care about reclining and would like to explore the option of adding a little core work into your workflow, check out this office chair vs exercise ball article. If you can afford to splurge then you will have a comfortable experience just remember how to dispose of the office chair in the right manner. And if you had to get rid of your old chair and are in the process of finding a new one, check out the Yamasoro ergonomic office chair. Alternatively, if you are in the market for a gaming chair, check out Homall gaming chair vs GTRacing for a comparison of two racing-style chairs.

Insider Tip

Office chairs with reclining backrests are typically considered more ergonomic than those with just a tilting mechanism.


What do the levers on my office chair do?

The levers on your office chair are responsible for making adjustments to a variety of different things. Depending on the office chair you purchase, these levers can adjust seat height, reclining angle, tilting feature, lumbar support height, backrest height, and more.

What are the recommended seating adjustments for your office chair?

In general, your chair’s head should be adjusted to the point where both of your feet can stay firmly placed on the floor, and your arms can remain slightly above the surface of your desk with your elbows at a 100-110 degree angle. Apart from that, the adjustments you make to your backrest, neck rest, and lumbar support depend on your body dimensions and comfort.

What makes an office chair ergonomic?

Ergonomic office chairs typically offer adjustable seat depth, seat height, lumbar support, backrests, and armrests. Keep that in mind when deciding between a work chair that offers armrests versus those that do not.

How does an office chair mechanism work?

The office chair mechanism uses a gas cylinder, also known as a gas spring, to lift and lower the chair. The mechanism is screwed directly onto the chair’s seat and usually features a wheeled base for more effortless movement.

STAT: A 135-degree angle is the best position for relieving back pain. (source)