How much time do you spend on your desk? Chances are that if you are like most of us, you are spending a majority of your working time sitting on a chair. The health problems that come with such a sedentary lifestyle are well documented and regular exercising is often a good offset.
However, equally important is the chair you choose since that determines your posture. Bad posture is often the number one reason for constant back pain, not to mention the difficulty in working comfortably. There was a time when good chairs were prohibitively expensive and hence offices used whatever they could get on a deal. These days there are plenty of durable and cost effective options available.
But what makes a good ergonomic chair?
Mobile with smooth wheels: Before the design, know that mobile is better than fixed. A 5-pedestal base chair will be able to move freely. with casters that glide freely. Further 5-pedestal base chairs are more stable and easily manoeuvred. Try out the wheels to make sure that they are moving freely and smoothly. Also look at your office before picking something up – a carpeted area will give a different motion than a wooden or marble floor. Too often, you might see that the wheel are jamming and/ or scratching the surface make the movement problematic and annoying!
Adjustable Armrests: Some years back, there was a trend of chairs without armrest. They worked terribly. It is not only the back which is prone to posture problems but also the wrists and the elbows. Choose chairs with adjustable armrests. Broader ones are usually better and so are ones that are a bit cushioned but you could out that down to preference. The height of armrests should be adjustable since that will be dependent on your own body type and also the dimensions of your desk. Some chairs give you the option to simply put the armrests so far down that they are practically removed – and this might be preferred for some people who already have a set working motion.
Seat Pan: Seat pan is the actual seating area of the chair and should be comfortable, wide enough and with an even weight distribution. A good general rule of thumb is to have atleast 1 inch extra space in the seat pan after you sit or else any shifting would become difficult. One thing that is often overlooked is the thigh support given by the seat pan. Without enough depth, you might find that an extra pressure is put on the knees. This might not be noticeable immediately but will lead to either pain or mind circulation problems. Lastly, know that this is the area that is the most used and hence will have the most wear and tear. Make sure the material is durable and padded enough to take the load.
Adjustable Height: Good ergonomic chairs are always adjustable in height for this is one of the main drivers of posture. Usually there would be a pneumatic device that would allow you to change the height as you desire. There used to be some mechanical options but they are becoming increasingly uncommon. The seat adjustors should themselves be located in a position so that you can reach them while sitting (yes, some chairs have amazingly poor location of adjustors). The key point is that you should be able to adjust the chair height such that your feet firmly touch the ground and the knees are level with thighs parallel to the ground.
Lumbar Support: Lower back support is essential for a good posture. In good ergonomic chairs you will find these to be cushioned as well as adjustable. The problem comes when some chairs overdo the lumbar support which forces you to sit in a forward tilt position. This is obviously uncomfortable and bad for lower back. A thumb of rule check for right lumbar support is whether your thighs are being supported or forced well or are you feeling some strain there. If you feel an unnatural strain in thighs it is probably due to poorly designed lumbar support.
Back support: The overall back support is provided by the chair design as well as the ability to recline as you change your position. Good chairs will often have a pretty large range of motion – which may not be often used but allows the movement to be free. The back width again should be enough for your back along with some margin. You should also not feel side strain as you move forward or backward.
Headrest: A headrest is not a critical ingredient but if it is there, use the same criteria to judge it as you would for the lumbar support. Poorly designed chairs have a tendency to overdo this aspect as well.
Where should you buy a good ergonomic chair in India?
Amazon has a huge collection here ergonomic chair
And you will find plenty more at Amazon.in and other major e-commerce players. There are also specialised ergonomic chair manufacturers/ suppliers. You should explore the options and specifications they provide however buying a chair is one area where I still feel touch and feel is more important than the convenience of online shopping. So you should go around your offline suppliers and try out the chairs. Make sure that they fit on the above parameters – after all, you will spend a huge amount of time on them in the next years!
[Featured Image source: roisinconnolly-designermaker.com/]