How to Choose a Comfortable Office Chair
A comfortable office chair can help you stay focused and productive. The best chairs have a strong collection of adjustable features to support your back and seat.
For example, you can adjust the armrests so your elbows are under your shoulders—a recommended posture that reduces contact stress on your forearm and wrist. Other chair adjustments include the lumbar support height and seat position.
1. Comfortable Seat
If you spend hours a day sitting in a chair at work or home, you want to make sure your back is supported and your legs are resting comfortably. A comfortable seat with a thick cushion and lumbar support will help you avoid aches and pains as you work. You can also look for a chair that comes with armrest pads that are long enough to provide proper support for your arms without causing discomfort or pressure points, and a chair that has a smooth surface so it won’t scratch or mark your desk.
A good office chair will have adjustable features that allow you to fine-tune the position of the seat, back and armrests so that your body can adjust easily. You will especially want to adjust the height of your seat, which can have a big impact on your hips and knees. Some options are fully adjustable, like the splurge-worthy Herman Miller Aeron or Steelcase Gesture, while others may offer a few standard adjustments, such as seat height and forward tilt.
Some chairs offer a variety of customizable options for the back, while others have a more minimal design that will blend in with most workspaces. The Poppin Max Task Chair has a sleek look that will blend in with most offices or at-home workstations and received a high score in our setup and adjustability tests. It also has a comfortable cushioned seat and mesh backrest, and its price point makes it a great value.
Its armrests are a bit shorter than other models we tested, but they still provide adequate support and have a soft, flexible surface that conforms to your arms. The lumbar support is also slightly shorter than other models, but it’s still adequate and easily adjustable. Overall, this chair has a comfortable cushioning and minimal design that will fit in with most workspaces.
If you’re looking for an affordable option with more adjustment options, the Wellworking Sayl offers a wide range of customizable settings that will allow you to tailor the chair to your needs. You can add a number of additional adjustable features, such as height-adjustable arms, pump-up lumbar support or adjustable seat depth, depending on your budget.
2. Adjustable Armrests
Armrests are an essential feature of any comfortable office chair. They provide support for your arms, which can alleviate shoulder and neck pain. They also help you ease into and rise out of your seat. Ultimately, they prevent you from leaning forward too much, which can cause back problems.
Most modern ergonomic chairs have adjustable armrests. Typically, the armrest height is adjusted by using a simple push-and-pull ratchet function that pauses at multiple levels to let you lock your preferred position. However, some chairs also have a button you can press to change the height of the armrests.
The width of the armrests is another important adjustment that you need to consider. Ideally, your elbows should be directly under your shoulders. But since everyone’s shoulder width is different, having armrests that can move closer or farther away from your torso will allow you to find a comfortable position for your elbows and forearms.
You’ll also need to consider the material used in the armrests. Manufacturers usually use steel, hard plastic, or polyurethane for them. The latter is considered the best because it’s not only durable but also comfortable to sit on.
When it comes to the design of the armrests, you’ll want to choose ones that are easy to grip and not too bulky. You’ll also want to make sure that they’re not too far apart, which can cause discomfort in your hands and wrists. Finally, you’ll want to make sure that they can rotate outward 30 degrees to give you a better posture and keep your wrists in a neutral position.
Finally, the armrests should have a good amount of padding to be comfortable and prevent numbness. You’ll also want them to be padded enough that you don’t feel any pressure on your shoulders and upper back from resting against them. Some models even come with a small cushion to protect your shoulders and ribs.
3. Adjustable Backrest
When it comes to ergonomic features, the backrest is one of the most important factors to consider. A backrest that adjusts to your movements and supports you throughout the day is key to avoiding stiffness and pain in your shoulders, neck and back. Look for a backrest that has a slight pivot function to ensure it's conforming to you and isn't just sitting flat against your spine.
The backrest should also be able to move with you as you shift seating positions and work throughout the day. Look for a backrest that's lightly padded and breathable, so you won't feel hot or sweaty while working. During lab testing, the Steelcase Gesture was one of our top picks for its flex-back design, which moved with you and supported your lumbar spine as you shifted seating positions. It also scored a perfect score in our setup and durability tests, which makes it a great choice for furnishing an at-home office.
Another important factor to consider is the height of the armrests. If they're too high, your elbows will be raised off of the armrest and put pressure on your upper shoulders and forearms, which can lead to tension and pain over time. If they're too low, you'll have to tuck them under your desk or lean forwards to rest your elbows on them, which can cause discomfort in the arms and shoulder area and also lead to stiffness and fatigue.
In addition to armrests, you want the seat depth of your chair to be comfortable so that you can sit in a healthy posture while working from home. This helps to minimize slouching, which can cause back pain and prevent lower back injuries over time. To test the chair's depth, sit in the seat with your feet down and your calves a fist-space away from the edge of the chair. Then, adjust the seat up or down until it feels comfortable and snug.
The Sihoo M18 is an excellent choice for a comfortable office chair that offers plenty of adjustable ergonomic bells and whistles for WFH workers, including automatic, weight-sensitive reclining and a tri-panel mesh backrest that automatically adjusts to you. Its minimal aesthetic and contemporary color options also make it a good choice for a stylish at-home office.
4. Ergonomic Design
Regardless of whether you’re working from home or an office, a comfortable office chair is key to good posture and reducing the strain on your back, neck, and eyes. During our review of ergonomic office chairs, we took into account insights from our product testers who rated each chair’s setup, comfort, lumbar support, adjustability and design. We also sought input from two certified chiropractors, Vargas and Jenna Rabadi, D.C., of Hudson Chiropractic + Wellness. The result is a list of ergonomically sound office chairs that have been thoughtfully designed to keep your spine safe and support you throughout the day.
When evaluating ergonomics, it’s important to remember that everyone is different. What feels great to one person may feel surprisingly uncomfortable or even painful to another. That’s why it’s important to try out a chair before you buy it. It’s also worth pointing out that ergonomics isn’t just about the chair; it’s also about your desk and other tools you use to work.
The Herman Miller Sayl is a stylish ergonomic office chair that doesn’t sacrifice functionality for aesthetics. This chair features an innovative suspension bridge-inspired design that makes it look like a modern art piece in your workspace. Its adjustable features include seat height, armrest height, lumbar angle and tilt. The adjustable seat height is particularly useful, as it allows you to match the seat’s depth to your leg length to ensure proper alignment.
Its breathable mesh is another standout feature of this ergonomic office chair. It’s a popular material that is flexible and has the right amount of give to conform to your body while still providing support. The three flexing panels of the lumbar backrest are another unique feature that allow you to customize the shape of the curve, giving this chair a more personalized fit.
The padded armrests are another standout feature of this ergonomic office chair. They’re adjustable and positioned perfectly to take the weight off your shoulders while keeping your elbows close to your core to prevent slouching. The soft padding is also a nice touch for added comfort. Lastly, its adjustable tilt and lumbar support make this ergonomic office chair an excellent choice for long work days.
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