What is an Ergonomic Office Chair

Dorian Smith-Garcia Profile image

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Updated February 5, 2023

For people who work in a seated position throughout the day, finding a chair that’s comfortable and supportive is going to be key. While office chairs can vary in price and design, there are still a few key features that need to be consistent regardless of a chair’s style or aesthetics. A good chair should be supportive and minimize the risk of creating unnecessary strain across your body. Find out more about how to pick the best office chair and why ergonomics should be prioritized. An ergonomic office chair is designed specifically to maximize the user’s comfort and efficiency. This can be accomplished in many ways, and below we will take a look at these ways and why they are important.


  • Sitting for extended periods can increase strain on your neck, back, shoulders, and hips.
  • If a chair has proper lumbar support, it should support the natural curve of your spine.
  • When using the seat height adjustment, you should customize the chair so that your feet are resting flat on the floor.

Why Ergonomics Matters

More than likely, you’ve probably heard about the importance of an ergonomic workplace. Whether you work from home or in an office setting, we know that sitting for extended periods while engaged in poor posture isn’t good for your body. While the verdict is out on whether sitting truly is the new smoking, we do know that when your body isn’t in proper alignment, you’re more likely to experience back pain and strains not just along your spine but in your hips, shoulders, and neck.

A good office chair should be able to provide plenty of support to help eliminate the risk of premature fatigue or strain on your neck, spine, back, shoulders, hips, and legs. And especially for people that work for extended periods in a sitting position, an ergonomic chair should be a priority. Alternatively, a gaming chair may be worth it as they have a lot of the same features as ergonomic office chairs. You may be wondering what makes a chair a gaming chair if they are so similar. Usually, gaming chairs have unique designs and can be very colorful.

Insider Tip

A good office chair should be able to provide plenty of support to help eliminate the risk of premature fatigue or strain.

So How Should You Shop for an Ergonomic Chair?

You don’t necessarily need to spend top dollar to get a supportive chair. But there are a few key features that you need to prioritize regardless of the sticker price. The next time you’re ready to upgrade your current office chair consider the following criteria.

Lumbar Support

Lumbar support is one of the most important aspects you need to prioritize. Proper support will let your spine maintain its natural curve. Budget-friendly and median-priced office chairs tend to have built-in lumbar support that’s not adjustable. Premium models allow you to adjust the lumbar support so that it’s customized to your needs. If you are curious we have a comparison of two highly rated ergonomic chairs in our article on Herman Miller Aeron vs ErgoChair 2 or you can check out these top-rated lumbar support office chairs.

Insider Tip

Proper support will let your spine maintain its natural curve.


This might seem like an odd addition to an ergonomic chair, but it’s important. Most office chairs you’ll find on the market feature mesh panels because of enhanced breathability. But for people that want a padded backrest for added comfort, options such as cooling gel memory foam can be a good alternative. You should also ensure that you fix the arms of your office chair if you want a fully comfortable seat. Additionally, once you fix the armrest be sure to protect the arms to ensure they last a long time.

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Height Adjustments

Finding a chair that’s compatible with the height of your desk is important to minimize the risk of fatigue. Specifically, your feet should be able to sit flat on the floor — regardless of whether or not your chair has wheels. Additionally, you should be able to sit comfortably so that your arms are parallel to the height of your desk. If you are having problems with this then you should get an office chair repair kit and get to work. It is not as complicated as it sounds.

But height adjustments can vary across chairs and chairs without wheels usually don’t offer height adjustments. While most chairs are designed for people of average height, those who are petite or very tall should be mindful of the height adjustment range and ensure that they can still sit comfortably with their feet on the floor whether in the lowest or highest positions.

STAT: Not maintaining good posture and adequate back support can add strain to muscles and put stress on the spine. Over time, the stress of poor posture can change the anatomical characteristics of the spine, leading to the possibility of constricted blood vessels and nerves, as well as problems with muscles, discs, and joints. (source)


Not everyone likes armrests, but they can help aid in preventing fatigue in your arms. Some armrests are fixed, but you can find office chairs with flip-up armrests. Ideally, if you opt for an office chair with armrests, prioritize options that allow you to adjust the height and depth so that it’s customized to your needs. And alternatively, if you’re not sure if armrests are right for you, opt for flip-up armrests so that you can move them out of the way when you don’t need them.

Range of Motion

Some people may not think that this criterion falls under ergonomics, but being able to easily shift towards different angles at your desk is important. While the range of motion is more commonly supported in office chairs with wheels, you’ll want to look for features such as a 360-degree swivel, and a wheelbase set with casters.

Waterfall Seat Edge

A waterfall seat edge is essential to ensure that you’re not placing too much pressure on the backs of your legs. Doing so can impede blood flow and add to fatigue that might occur. Most chairs regardless of whether you’re buying an executive chair, mesh office chair, or a combination mesh chair will offer this design feature.


When your body isn’t in proper alignment, you’re more likely to experience back pain and strains.

Additional Features

Additional features may also be considered depending on how long you plan to work at a desk or the height of your desk. Below are a few upgraded features that you’ll commonly find when shopping for an office chair.


Most office chairs that are set on a wheelbase will provide some form of a tilt/rock feature. But deeper recline angles such as those seen in executive or gaming chairs — many of which can double as office chairs — allow you to fully recline into a 180-degree lay-flat angle. Usually, a full lay-flat design comes at a premium, but it’s possible to find wallet-friendly options.


Not all office chairs offer a footrest. But if you work at a standing desk or drafting table, a footrest is essential to counterbalance the taller height of the chair. Additionally, chairs that provide a larger recline angle should include a footrest to ensure that you’re not placing too much pressure on your legs when you’re at a deeper angle.


What makes an office chair comfortable?

A comfortable office chair should allow you to work with your feet flat on the floor and your arms parallel to the height of the desk. Additionally, get a chair with built-in lumbar support to allow your spine to maintain its natural curve.

How do you sit comfortably in a chair?

Make sure that your chair is adjusted to a height where your feet are flat on the floor. Sit back so that your spine is against the backrest for added support.

What type of chair should be used in the workplace?

The most common chair you’ll find for office work is the task chair. Usually seen in a mesh combination design, this chair features lumbar support, an adjustable height seat, and is set on a wheelbase with five casters.

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