Updated: May 23, 2015
Ergonomic Chair Reviews - Office ChairsWhat are the best ergonomic office chairs and computer chairs? We'll find out in this guide:
As people have moved from their pastoral and farming pasts into the industrial age, the melding of human bodies and their work environments has come under more and more scrutiny. What is ergonomics? Ergonomics comes from the Greek words "ergon", meaning work, and "nomos", meaning laws. Ergonomics is thus the field of research related to the science of work. In more immediate, modern terms, it means studying how people interact with their environment, whether work or pleasure. Ergonomics involves designing things (cars, chairs, computers) so that they are more natural and easy for people to use, conforming with the requirements and natural tendencies of their bodies - acknowledging their strengths and limitations in the process. Ergonomics are especially relevant in the workplace today, as companies design computers, office equipment and furniture, and even industrial assembly lines and processes with the human body in mind.
Computer Chair - Office Chair - Desk Chair -- Why Ergonomic?So let's take a look at how ergonomics relates to how we all use computers - sitting in a chair. Ergonomic chairs have been around for a number of years, and have made news with their strange (at times) designs and often high prices. Basically, an ergonomic chair is one that is designed to conform to the natural position and alignment of the spine and limbs. Some of the key adjustable components in an ergonomic chair are:
- Lumbar Support: ergonomic chairs offer the lumbar area of the lower back support either through a curved backrest or a pad or cushion, as opposed to conventional chairs with a flat sloping backrest.
- Seat Height: ergonomic chairs have adjustable seat height so the user can position the chair so their feet rest flatly on the ground and the keyboard is properly positioned for their arms.
- Backrest Angle: by tilting the chair back slightly, weight is transferred to the chair seatback and away from the lower back
- Armrests: used properly in an ergonomic chair, armrests can lessen stress on the shoulders
- Armrest Padding: reduces pressure on the elbows and forearms
- Recline: some ergonomic chairs allow the entire chair body to tilt back slightly, again allowing the sitter to find the optimal position to reduce pressure and weight away from their body and into the chair
- Armrest height: armrest can also be raised up and down to match the dimensions of the users body
Best Ergonomic ChairsSome of leading names in ergonomic chairs are Herman Miller Aeron, Herman Miller Mirra, Humanscale Liberty and Freedom, and the zero gravity Perfect Chair. The Herman Miller Aeron line were famously popular at the height of the Internet boom, with young companies thinking nothing about shelling out almost $1000 per chair for their office workers (it's easy spending dumb investor's money!). These chairs are still popular, still ergonomically designed, and still expensive, coming in at around $800-$900. The Aeron is different from all other chairs in that it uses a mesh material for the chair back and bottom -- your weight is basically suspended evenly rather than resting heavily on a cushion. I've used one for almost 10 years now, and while it is not perfect, it definitely is more comfortable that your average computer chair. The Mirra is an updated model with a plastic, flexing back instead of mesh -- also a very comfortable chair. Humanscale makes the Freedom Chair, priced at about $800. It comes with or without a headrest, and is customizable in the following areas: back height, seat depth, arm rests, seat height, and head rest position. The arm rests raise and lower, and tilt, the seat pan slides in or out, the seat height raises or lowers pneumatically. The Freedom Saddle Seat is also popular for those who like the simple kneeling style of sitting (priced at $299). Steelcase makes the Leap Chair series. The Leap Drafting Chair is described as: "A technology...a chair...a healthier way to sit. Leap mimics your unique spinal motion. The Leap chair incorporates technology that passively supports dynamic spine and pelvis motion. The addition of a tall cylinder and height adjustable foot ring, make this one of the most comfortable drafting height chairs available." This good looking chair sells for just over $1000, and while we haven't tested it directly, if it is anything like the other Leap Chairs, it will win you over with its smart design and comfortable seating material and positions. The Think Chair is another popular Steelcase model, with a design kind of like the Aeron. The Think Chair is priced at $699 and automatically adjusts itself to your size and weight. Some higher end ergonomic chairs include the Recaro executive line, KAB office chairs, and BackSaver.
Ergonomic chairs are not just for your office or home office though. You can also find ergonomic seating for your family room or living room. The Perfect Chair is an elegant zero gravity recliner and works great in a home theater. It is a little pricey at around $1400, but it is VERY comfortable and looks great. It has a built in lumbar curve and an extra wide legrest. We found the UltimateBackStore.com had a good selection of ergonomic chairs for home and office, with good prices, quick shipping, and FREE shipping on most orders. Keyovation.com sells not only their Bodybilt ergonomic chairs but also ergonomic keyboards and ergonomic mouse. SitInComfort.com is based in Ohio and they have a great online store that carries HAG Ergonomic Chairs, Tempur chairs, and all kinds of ergonomic/comfort products.