Are you planning to shop for a computer chair online but don’t know what you should look out for or where to start? Here’s a helpful list of things that can help you find the right computer chair for you and all your needs.
What things should I consider before buying a computer chair?
It goes without saying that a good chair must adequately fit your individual requirements which include your height and weight as well as the number of hours you are planning to spend in it, either for work of entertainment.
When faced with product description on any online store website, pay attention to the chair’s size, upholstery material, and a few mechanical features which we are going to expand on below.
So how exactly to go about choosing the right computer chair for specific purposes? Is it intended for your office or home? Well, most models combine key features required for both workplace and personal use, so follow these tips to find out which type of chair is best for you based on the priorities at the top of your list.
What type of seat do I need?
- The hardness of the seat. Computer chairs that are meant for office use should have seats with cushions of medium hardness. According to this article, it’s important if you want to prevent your own body mass exerting pressure on your spine. Softer seat cushions can lead to the development of pronounced slouch and various disorders of the organs in your lesser pelvis. With harder seats, you are forced to change seating positions more often which, in turn, promotes better blood circulation. That said, it might be quite difficult to spend long hours of uninterrupted work in a seat with hard cushioning;
Tip: people with hemorrhoids caused by a sedentary lifestyle might want to avoid soft seats and go with harder options. To improve your working conditions, you can purchase special hemorrhoids pillows and seat cushions.
- The height of the seat. Ideally, it should be level with your shin length. A computer chair should have adjustable seats to accommodate your height as well as the heights of other people who might also use the chair. The ideal seat height should allow your feet to fully touch the floor; at the same time, your knees should be level with or slightly lower than your hip joints, with the preferable angle of knee flexion between 90⁰ -130⁰;
- Seat dimensions. Depth of the seat should be enough to fit approximately ⅔ of your thigh. It’s important to ensure proper support for your pelvis when you remain immobile for long periods of time, so pay extra attention to how far your thighs are placed in the seat. You should position yourself so that ⅔ of your thigh length fits inside the seat. This is done in order to transfer support on the ischial tuberosities (the lower part of the V-shaped bone in the pelvis) which ensures better stability of your pelvis and reduces pressure on your spine by preserving its natural curves. If you prefer reclining in your chair as deep as it allows you to go, try to find a chair with the seat depth that matches the length of your thighs.
Best computer chair seats that maximize your comfort have memory foam to support your natural shape. Some curve downwards to keep your leg veins from developing chronic conditions.
How to use the armrests of a computer chair?
A lot depends on the way you sit in your chair when working.
If you sit with your elbows propped on the armrests (in cases when the armrests are level with the top of your desk) and your forearms partially placed on the desktop, you should assess the right height for the armrests of your chair. To do that, sit up straight and bend your elbows at a 90⁰ angle to measure the distance from your forearm to the top of the seat. This distance will be the optimal height of your armrests for best working conditions.
If you sit with your forearms fully rested on the desktop and use the armrests only when you lean back and rest during short breaks in work or other activities, then make sure to pay attention to the degree at which you place your elbows on the armrests. The option that gives you the best possible comfort is to keep your elbows propped at an angle between 90⁰ and 120⁰. This helps reduce stress in your shoulder and elbow regions. This position also shortens the distance between your forearms and the seat compared to the one mentioned above.
In cases of office chairs with non-adjustable armrests, the distance between the seat and the top of the armrests varies between 7″ and 10″.
Tip: the best choice would be a chair with adjustable armrests. They will allow you to regulate the height according to the type of work you do as well as the sitting position required for best performance of any given task.
If for some reason you find armrests uncomfortable and inconvenient, there are plenty of chair models that come without armrests. Alternatively, there are models that feature the detachable kind of armrests which can be removed directly from the seat as they are not an essential assembly part of the chair’s build.
The shape of the backrest
For best possible comfort, look for chairs with backrests that accomodate the anatomical shape of your spine and provide considerable lumbar support. In case of straight backrests or the ones with limited lumbar support functions, you can opt for an orthopedic pillow specifically designed for lumbar support.
Tip: if you care about the health of your back and want to prevent the development of spine disorders, make sure to keep track of your sitting habits. To maintain a healthy spine, try to sit with your back straight and shoulders pulled back; control the bend of your neck—keep it as straight as possible—and don’t lean too far into the backrest. If you are able to sit properly, there will no longer be the need to recline fully into the backrest, and instead you will retain the natural curve of your spine in the lower back region. The habit to lean back affects your overall condition negatively due to this position leading to the pressure being wrongly distributed along your spinal column. This uneven allocation of pressure leads to back pains and possible spine disorders, so avoid leaning back and reclining as often as possible.
But what should you do if the option to kick back and relax is important for you to have during a hard day of work? If using a backrest is absolutely vital for you, then feel free to go for it, but try to find a chair with a low backrest. With those you must remember to recline only with the low sections of your back to maintain the natural curvature of your spine. The approximate height of such backrest should be about 18″.
On the other hand, if the shoulder region of your back requires better and more consistent support due to long hours of stressful sedentary work, you will benefit more with a taller backrest. For this purpose choose chairs with backrests at around 25″ in height.
There are certain cases which require better support of your neck and shoulder region. Your best option would be a computer chair with a headrest that allows for any needed adjustments in height as well as inclination angle.
Tilt Control Mechanism
What exactly is tilt control mechanism for? Essentially, you need it for the relief of muscle stress in your spine accumulated during the long workday. Tilt control helps provide better blood circulation and reduces muscle numbness that you might experience after long periods of remaining seated in unnatural positions.
Propel wheels and types of wheel casters
As the base of any chair, propel wheels give you more mobility and efficiency in the workplace or doing similar tasks at home. The choice of wheels depends on both the room you plan to use it in and your own weight.
If you’re under 124 lbs, then any caster would do, including ones made of plastic; if you’re 287lbs and over, your option would be any model with a cast-aluminum alloy caster.
Now what about your floor surface? If the chair is intended to be used primarily on carpet surfaces, you can never go wrong with plastic wheels. But to protect linoleum and hardwood surfaces, such as laminate or parquet flooring, choose chairs with rubber wheel casters. For extra protection, you can purchase a floor mat or use the chair on an area rug.
Some people aren’t particularly fond of wheels, and if you’re one of them you can always replace cumbersome wheels with special bell or protective glides.
Tip: if you want to get the most out of your computer chair, try looking for an ergonomic adjustable chair model that allows you to regulate its parameters depending on your needs and preferences. The best chairs should include a variety of adjustment options, including the depth of the seat and the height of the backrest; lumbar support with adjustable depth and height; headrest with adjustable height and inclination angle; armrests with adjustable height and position, whether it’s to allow forwards and backwards movement or horizontal turn in relation to the chair.
Sedentary work and lifestyle can result in regular back pain, so if you have to deal with constant aches, finding the right kind of orthopedic chair might be the perfect solution for you. Keep in mind that what actually makes a chair orthopedic is its ability to shape and correct posture. Experts recommend to go for models that actually have some long-term therapeutic effects like chairs from SpinaliS, Herman Miller, Steelcase, and Ergohuman.
Out of the wide range of chair upholstery fabrics available on the market, consider the pros and cons of each material before making your final choice. So let’s look at the most common types of upholstery:
- Genuine leather
Known to be durable and pleasant to touch, top-grain leather is a great choice if you prioritize comfort and quality. But the downside of genuine leather upholstery, like with many quality leather products, is that it tends to be rather pricey and not easy for everyone to afford;
- Faux leather
Most common types of artificial leather are eco friendly leather and PVC (or Polyvinyl Chloride) imitation leather. Famously more prone to wear, PVC is considered to be less durable as opposed to eco friendly leather. The base material of eco leather is biomass, in particular cotton fabric, with the top layer of polyurethane instead of PVC which is more typical in imitation leather. The core difference between these fabrics is the level of exposure to toxic emissions: PU, as opposed to PVC, is non-toxic and therefore completely safe and eco friendly. Another advantage you get with both faux leather types is the easy-to-clean surface;
For those whose main concern is the high level of comfort in all types of weather, your best choice will always always be a cloth seat. Unlike leather and imitation leather, cloth is breathable, cozy, and comfortable even in hot summer temperatures, preventing your clothes and skin from sticking to the seat surface. On the downside, cloth requires a more thorough care and is harder to clean;
When it comes to the pros of mesh fabric, its breathable qualities are at the top of the list. Other advantages include durability, elasticity, and ability to stretch. The most popular kind of mesh upholstery is polyester which serves as a neat substitute for silk and cotton. Polyester is also used to cover the backrest in addition to the seat itself. There is also a type of new generation mesh with greater elasticity which consists of 76% elastomer and only 24% polyester;
This game-changing material is a type of synthetic rubber that offers varying levels of elasticity that depend on which body part and its respective movement to support, for example hips or different sections of your back. This is made possible by the high malleability of thermoplastic elastomer. The material doesn’t absorb sweat, preventing the spread of bacteria and fungi, and is exceptionally resistant to abrasion.