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Why You NEED An Office Chair That Is Right For You

11 January 2022

We are spending more time sitting at our desks than ever before, making them one of the most used pieces of furniture that the average person owns.  

The phrase ‘never skimp on the things that separate you from the ground' could not be more true when it comes to desks and desk chairs. While a budget desk chair might seem like a good way of saving money, it is like you to cause you more problems than you budgeted for.

A good office chair can make long workdays at your desk feel as comfortable as a lazy Saturday on the sofa. A bad office chair, on the other hand, can result in drawn-out days and long-term back problems.

It might seem like the simple answer would be to purchase the most expensive desk chair that your budget allows, as the price is normally a sign of quality. This is not the answer, though; price alone does not guarantee a good or comfortable chair.

A desk chair needs to be carefully picked to match the person who will be using it and the rest of the office furniture that it will be paired with.

Who Is The Standard Office Chair Designed For?

Most people do not think of desk chairs as something that needs to be tailored to the individual who will be using it. There are actually very few pieces of home furniture that come in different options to suit individual specifications.

A mattress is probably the only piece of furniture that the average person buys according to their individual requirements. Almost all other furnishings very much take a one size fits all approach.

Despite this one size fits all idea, furniture is still designed and tested based on the model of a human. The problem is that most chairs, and other furniture, as tested using what is considered to be the average human. The average is a 5”9 male, despite the fact that very few people perfectly fit this model.

Your dining table or kitchen sink being tested up against ‘the average human’ is unlikely to cause any real problems with the usability of these items. However, when it comes to chairs, in particular those who spend hours sitting in, the way that they are designed and tested can be extremely problematic.

Here are just a few of the problems that a badly fitted chair can cause.

Badly Placed Lumbar Support

One of the main problems that people complain about with their office chairs is bad lumber support. You would assume that if you have paid for an expensive desk chair that comes complete with a lumbar support pillow and an adjustable back, it will provide ending comfort.

Unfortunately, unless you are a 5”9 male, or at least somewhere close to those measurements, your expensive lumbar pillow is likely to cause more pain than a cheap chair.

The placement of the lumbar support on an office chair is calculated based on where it is assumed the average person’s lower back will be when they are sitting in the chair.

So, for someone who is at least a few inches shorter than the average, this means the lumbar support of their chair will be hovering around their mid to upper back. While anyone taller than the average will find the support provided to be too low.

When sitting in a chair for a minimum of eight hours a day, badly placed lumbar support can quickly cause severe back pain. While it is possible to work around the problem with extra cushions and frequent breaks, it is much better to buy a customize chair and avoid the problem entirely.

Incompatible Chair Height

Almost all office chairs come with at least some level of height adjustment. However, these are again calculated based on what is considered to be the average.

Finding the perfect height for a desk chair can be tricky as it does not just need to be tailored to the individual using the chair but also the desk that it is being paired with.

It is important that a chair is not too low, leaving you reaching up towards your desk in a perpetual stretch all day. Equally, a chair cannot be so high that you find yourself scrunched over your desk for hours on end.

Alongside finding the right balance between desk and chair, the individual's height needs to also be taken into account. People below the average height can easily find themselves unable to comfortably place their feet on the floor. While those who are taller feel as though their legs are being screeched into a budget airplane seat.

A footrest can help those struggling to reach the floor. However, this is an additional purchase and another minefield in finding the right fit. For taller people, there is little in the way of solution other than stretching your legs out where possible.

How To Find The Right Office Chair

The unfortunate reality is that for anyone who is not considered to be the 'average human,' basically the majority of the population, buying a standardized office chair is likely to result in short-term discomfit and potentially long-term pain.

The good news is that as an increasing number of people are working from home and being given the freedom to purchase their own office chairs, there is a growing market for customized chairs.

Some companies now sell their desk chairs in a range of sizes, recognizing that an office chair needs to be tailored to the individual just like a good pair of shoes are. This approach to purchasing something that you will spend so much time makes sense. No one would expect you to purchase a standardized pair of shoes or jeans, so why should you for an item you will spend so much time sitting in.

Another option for those shopping on more of a budget is to go to office supply stores and actually try out several chairs before purchasing one. While nothing can replicate the experience of sitting in a chair for eight straight hours, test driving a few different chairs will at least eliminate those that are the most uncomfortable.