With more and more people working from home, many home offices are getting more use than previously intended—particularly office chairs. That’s led many home workers to wonder at what point should they replace their old office chair with a new one.
“Many people wait until their office chair is showing wear and tear before entertaining the thought of getting a new one,” said Dr. Kristin Kolesar Fabris, president of the Chiropractic Society of Rhode Island and a chiropractor at Be Well Chiropractic & Health in Providence, RI. “The reality is you should make a decision on your current chair based more on its ergonomics than its current condition. A chair can look good and still do harm to your legs, back and neck.”
When it comes to selecting an ergonomic office chair for your home office, Dr. Fabris recommends an adjustable chair to customize settings that work for you. That starts with lumbar support.
The lumbar support must adjust to the curves of your back. This also goes for the back rest as well. You typically want the back rest to be between one foot and 19 inches wide.
A proper office chair also enables you to sit with your feet planted flat on the floor and your legs at a 90-degree angle. A chair height between 16 and 21 inches should work for most people. Remember, you also want your arms to be equal height with the desk’s surface. That’s why you want a chair with a height lever for easy adjustment.
Finally, there’s seat width. You want a chair with a width between 17 and 20 inches. Please keep in mind when you sit there should be a gap between two and four inches from the back of your knee to the chair.
“Following these guidelines will help you select a proper ergonomic office chair. Yet the real test is when you sit in the chair for an extended period of time,” said Dr. Fabris. “You will want to research the return policy for whomever you buy your new chair from. If your new chair doesn’t feel right after a day or so of extended seating, return it. Sure, you can make adjustments to height, etc. Sometimes it may not be the right chair. That’s why it’s encouraged to try these chairs out in the store first.”
Dr. Fabris adds, “For people with chronic back conditions, even a good office chair does not eliminate issues. You may want to consider a standing desk as sitting less can also help. Again, consult with a chiropractor is good start to finding the right balance between an ergonomic chair and standing.”
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