How to Make Sure Your Ergonomic Office Chair Is A Good Fit For You

how to know your ergonomic office chair is a good fit for you
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Hi! I'm Ugo Akpala-alimi MSc.

Ugo is a Work Health and Ergonomics Consultant for Solopreneurs.

She is a UK Chartered Physiotherapist with a Masters in Ergonomics. With a whopping 20 years of experience across various healthcare sectors including blue-chip companies.

From treating numerous work-related injuries to performing countless ergonomic assessments, she’s an expert on the havoc injuries wreak on health and business.

Now, she’s on a mission to help solopreneurs overcome work-related aches and pains. So they can work and build their businesses pain-free.

Is your ergonomic office chair a good fit?

You have done well if you have an ergonomic office chair. 

Many people still use the wrong chair for working at a computer desk. 

But you have done it. You’ve got yourself an ergonomic office chair. 

Why Is it Important to Have Your Ergonomic Office Chair 

Ergonomic chairs provide many benefits for your health, comfort and productivity. 

· Firstly, you sit on for long periods of time on a chair

It must provide comfort and help you maintain the neutral position necessary to prevent injury from developing. Because of its adjustable features, you sit in different positions.

· Secondly it can prevent neck and back pain 

An ergonomic chair supports the natural curvature of your spine and helps you avoid hunching over. But you must work with it to support you.

· Thirdly, it reduces pressure on the hips

It has a seat cushion that distributes your weight evenly, preventing excessive pressure on your hips.

· Fourthly, it increases blood circulation

An ergonomic chair allows you to change your posture frequently. So, to avoid prolonged sitting, improve blood flow and prevent numbness or swelling in your legs.

· Finally, it increases productivity

An ergonomic chair can reduce discomfort and fatigue. It then boosts your mental energy and helps you focus on your tasks. 

But are you worried you have bought the wrong one? Are you still having niggles and discomfort using the chair? Just having an ergonomic chair doesn’t mean you are injury-free. It doesn’t mean you would never have injury. To prevent injury while sitting on your ergonomic chair, you must work with it. You must use it as intended. 

But first, is your office chair a good fit for you? Here’s how to make your ergonomic office chair a good fit for you.

1. Your Seat Height Should Be Easily Adjusted To Level Your Elbows With The Computer Desk.

Raise or lower your seat height until your elbows are at the same level as your computer desk. If you have an adjustable armrest adjust them to be at the same level as your desk. Then your forearm it supports your arm and keeps it at the same level. This prevents your wrist hanging from the desk and prevents tingling and numbness. And also prevents you from raising your shoulders to prevent shoulder or neck injury.

2. You Must Have 2- 3 Fingers-Breadth Space Between The Back of Your Knees and The Seat Pan

The space between the front edge of the seat and the back of your knee should be about 2 -3 finger-breath. This would avoid pressure from the front edge of the seat against the popliteal space. The popliteal space is situated at the back of your knee.  Many blood vessels and nerve passes from the thigh to the lower leg. 

So, the edge of the seat must never pinch into that space. If pinched, it increases pressure, causes numbness and cuts.

You would know if your seat pan is pinching the back of your knee because you would feel discomfort at first. And that would mean that you’re your office chair is not a good fit. 

3. You Must be Able to Sit on Your Ergonomic Office Chair

One of the common postures when working is sitting on the edge of your seat. You don’t even know when you do. Sometimes, to draw close to your desk and other times, to avoid resting on the backrest. 

But it’s important that your buttocks and thighs are supported to reduce the pressure in your hips and lower back.  Make sure at least half of your thighs is on the seat pad.  If you sit only on the edge of your chair, you increase the pressure in the intervertebral discs of your spine. Causing backstrain and injury.

4. Can you lean against the backrest of your ergonomic office chair?

Now that you’re sitting in the chair and supporting your thighs and buttocks. You must be able to rest your back against the backrest. You need to do this, to support your back and spine. Prolonged sitting with your back unsupported, tyres (fatigues) your back. Continuous strain on a fatigued back would lead to spinal injury. 

You don’t always have to sit at 90 degrees, that’s why your chair has the tilt adjuster. The tilt adjuster allows you to lean forward like you would do when sitting on the edge of chair. 

So, to make your office chair a good fit, get used to tilting your chair forward and reclining. So your back is resting on your backrest preventing fatigue and back injury. 

5. The Lumbar Support on The Backrest Must Be Sitting Snug Against Your Lower Back 

As earlier described, you must rest your back on your backrest. But that to happen, the lumbar support of your chair must be flush against the small of your back. There’s a small hollow at your lower back. This hollow (space) which is concave must be at the same height as the lumbar support (convex). If that’s not the case, your lower back is left unsupported and leads to a C-curve of your spine. A C-curved spine can cause back pain. 

Raise your lower your lumbar support until it’s against your lower back. If you can’t raise it, then use a lumbar cushion instead. Whatever you do, make sure your lumbar is supported when working at your desk. 

6. The Armrest Must Be Easily Adjusted To Keep Your Elbow At 90 Degrees

Your elbow at 90 degrees keeps your arm in a neutral position. A neutral position allows the least strain in your body. Also with your elbow at 90 degrees, it keeps your elbow snug by your side and that prevents shoulder pain. 

If you do not have an armrest, adjust your chair so your forearm is at the same level as your elbow when placed on the desk. Try and avoid overstretching your arms because you then lean heavily on your hand. 

If you have an armrest, adjust them (raise or lower) so your elbows are resting on them at 90 degrees. If the armrest keeps you too far from the desk, tuck it under your desk or fold it away so your office chair is a good fit.

7. The Height of The Backrest Should Be Around Your Shoulder Blades

This is to prevent discomfort in your upper back. The curve of your upper back can be uncomfortable when resting on your backrest. Unless your backrest also have a curve (thoracic support) that is flush against your upper back. If the height of your backrest is too high, it prevents your lumbar from being fully supported. 

It’s OK if your backrest comes with neck support because it accommodates the curvature in your upper back. 

What About Your Feet Touching the Ground?

If you noticed, I never mentioned your feet touching the ground as a way to find out if your office chair is a good fit. Why? Because your chair doesn’t have to allow for that. That depends on the height of the desk and your own height.

If you have raised the seat to allow your elbows to be at the same height as your desk. It might mean your feet may not touch the ground especially if you are petite. It’s important you make those adjustments first and then if your feet are dangling, then use a footrest. 

Never allow your feet to dangle or place them on the base of your chair. In that position, you can pinch the popliteal space, cutting off blood circulation in your leg. 

So, use a footrest or wedge whatever you prefer. As long as your feet are firmly on a base

(not the swivel base of your chair), you are sitting in the ideal (neutral) position. Always make sure your office chair is a good fit. 

Now Over to You, Is Your Ergonomic Office Chair a Good Fit?

If you are missing any of the adjusters or chair features, then it would be limiting for your office chair to be a good fit. This is not about the price of the chair. Your ergonomic office chair doesn’t have to have all the bells and whistles. But it should have as many adjusters as you can afford.

You must make sure your ergonomic office chair is a good fit for you if you ever want to work pain-free. Ergonomic office chairs are designed to be adjustable, so as to support your build and size. This is important to work from home injury-free.

Written by Ugo Akpala-alimi Msc.

Written by Ugo Akpala-alimi Msc.

Ugo is a Work Health and Ergonomics Consultant for Solopreneurs. She is a UK Chartered Physiotherapist with a Masters in Ergonomics. She draws from 20 years of diverse experience across the NHS, private healthcare, and occupational health sectors. Having treated thousands of work-related injuries and conducted hundreds of ergonomic assessments, she possesses a deep understanding of the detrimental effects of work-related injuries on workers’ health. After being a freelancer herself, she is now on a mission to help solopreneurs resolve work-related pain so they can work pain-free, enabling them to thrive and build their businesses.

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