We sit in a chair for an extended period; thus the sedentary lifestyle has become omnipresent. Sitting has become our habit even when we spend our leisure time sitting, which increases the risk of posture-related musculoskeletal symptoms such as back injury or low back pain.
Different types of ergonomic chairs have been developed in the last few decades to minimize the risk while sitting for an extended period. Ergonomic chairs such as Office chairs, Kneeling chairs, Standing seats, Saddle Chairs, Swopper chairs are now available in the market.
Are Ergonomic Chairs Good for Your Back? Ergonomic chairs are good for your back as they offer adjustments that individuals can configure according to their height and sitting position, which improves comfort and productivity, maintaining the spine’s natural curve while sitting.
However, all the ergonomic chairs have different characteristics and use cases. Ergonomic office chairs are more general and available everywhere, whereas kneeling chairs, saddle chairs are more common in an active sitting.
In this article, I will explain different ergonomic chairs and their adjustments, back support, comfort, and overall use cases.
I will also recommend a few ergonomic chairs for your back to consider, so make sure you keep reading.
Why are Ergonomic Chairs Good for Your Back?
To be ergonomic, a chair should have appropriate characteristics for the individuals so that everyone can configure the chair to fit him/her correctly, such as adjusting seat height, seat depth, lumbar support, and armrests in case of the office chair.
When a chair fits you properly, you will have a comfortable and productive sitting experience.
Standing posture has lumbar curvature, which maintains our back spine and avoids possible injuries, but our sitting position causes the greatest disc pressure, negatively affect the nutrition of the intervertebral disc, causing back injuries and lower back pain.
Ergonomic office chairs are designed to maintain lumbar lordosis while sitting, thus minimizing intervertebral disc pressure and muscle fatigue.
For example, the ergonomic office chair has a high-back design with lumbar support that offers support both in the upper back and lower back.
In the case of a kneeling chair, you won’t find extra lumbar support. Still, the sloping seated position offers a similar lumbar lordosis as the standing posture, offering optimal sitting posture.
There are also saddle chairs, standing seats, and swopper chairs that offer similar seat height adjustments to achieve better posture and comfort.
Take a Look at Different Types of Ergonomic Chairs
Ergonomic chairs come in different shapes and sizes. However, all of the chairs has the same purpose of offering adequate comfort and productivity.
Let’s discuss different ergonomic chairs and how they offer back support.
Ergonomic office chairs are common and easy to find in a store or online. You will find fundamental ergonomic adjustability on these chairs, such as lumbar support adjustment, arm adjustment, seat height, and depth adjustments.
Lumbar support adjustment is more essential for an ergonomic office chair so that you can adjust the lumbar according to your preference.
Some ergonomic office chairs offer lumbar depth adjustment, which I really like; this depth adjustment allows you to properly configure the lumbar according to your lumbar curvature.
The office chair also offers an ergonomic “S-shaped” backrest that matches our posture curve and offers adequate support for both our upper and lower back.
Dynamic sitting is now more common in office chair due to various reclining and rocking mechanisms, offering you better adjustments to relax your back muscle.
You will also find armrest adjustment on an ergonomic office chair, which allows you to rest your arm, relieving pressure from your shoulder and upper back.
All of the ergonomic adjustments on the office chair offer better back support, ensuring seat comfort and productivity.
Kneeling chairs have sloped seat that maintains the natural curves of the spine and offer lowest hip flexion.
According to this study, the Kneeling chair has a similar lumbar lordosis as the standing posture, which is considered optimal sitting posture.
However, kneeling encourages to sit in a upright posture which requires muscle activation that may cause muscle fatigue after sitting for a while.
So, it’s difficult to sit upright for a prolonged period; thus you may adopt slumped posture when you feel discomfort. Even in a slumped posture, the kneeling chair maintains the lumbar lordosis.
As kneeling chair doesn’t have other adjustability such as armrest, lumbar support so, prolonged sitting may cause fatigue to back muscle.
Varier Balans kneeling chair offers dynamic sitting, which is essential for better blood circulation throughout the body. You can check out this chair on Amazon.
Although the kneeling chair has the advantage of maintaining lumbar lordosis, it also has the following disadvantages.
- Kneeling chair puts pressure on the knees and lower legs.
- It has less plantar contact of the feet with the floor.
- The hamstrings have the possibility of shortening
- Sitting becomes uncomfortable after a while
- Lack of lumbar support increases back muscle activity.
These disadvantages prevent the kneeling chair from being “optimal” sitting context.
Saddle chair is another ergonomic chair that often comes with seat height adjustment features, sometimes offering lumbar support.
A saddle seat has the same purpose of achieving the optimal sitting posture as other ergonomic chairs.
According to the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, the forward inclination of the saddle seat reduces posterior pelvis rotation and promotes lumbar lordosis.
Another study demonstrated, saddle seat design maintains lumbar lordosis and reduces lower back discomfort.
The saddle chair has the advantage of promoting lumbar lordosis and reducing lower back discomfort. However, they have the following disadvantages as well.
- Due to the unique design of the saddle seat might increase pressure on the lower limb, hip, and buttock, decreasing blood circulation in those areas.
- The saddle seat increases discomfort after sitting for a while.
The saddle chair promotes a greater trunk-to-thigh angle, maintaining lumbar lordosis, which is considered a preferable sitting posture. The saddle seat also increases productivity.
Standing seats are getting popular these days due to the high demand for standing desks. These chairs often offer seat height adjustments and dynamic range of movement.
Standing seat increase the trunk-to-thigh angle, comfort, and decrease lower back pain.
When you sit on a standing seat, the feet are flat on the floor, which reduces knee flexion and lordosis depending on the person’s morphotype.
According to this study, lumbar lordosis is greater on low stool or seats than standing seats. However, a standing seat requires a smaller range of joint motion during stand-to-sit movement task.
Standing seat has different use case than other ergonomic chairs, for back support lower seat is recommended.
What is the Optimal Seated Position?
Ergonomic chairs offer optimal seated positions by maintaining lumbar lordosis. However, all the chairs except the office chair don’t have a backrest, armrest, or headrest, making the sitting experience uncomfortable.
According to sitting biomechanics, you can sit in a good posture by making ergonomic adjustments on your office chair.
- You can recline the backrest from 110-130 degrees, depending on your comfort.
- Put your feet flat on the floor, knees at a 90-degree angle.
- You can rest your arms on the armrest, which will further reduce lumbar disc pressure.
- Adjust your lumbar support to preferable height and depth of 1 to 2 cm.
- Depending on your chair’s tilting mechanism, your chair seat will incline when you adjust the backrest to a certain degree.
What is the Best Ergonomic Office Chair for Back Pain?
Ergonomic office chair comes with different adjustments to fit individual properly for comfort and productivity.
Nouhaus Ergo3D is the best ergonomic office chair for back pain as it offers dynamic lumbar support that adjusts automatically according to your sitting position.
So, Are Ergonomic Chairs Actually Better?
Ergonomic chairs are actually better because it comes with adjustablity to fit each individual properly. These ergonomic chairs contours your body, it provide support wherever you need support.
An ergonomic chair ensures better sitting position, comfort, and productivity. If you sit for prolonged hours on a regular chair, your back muscle gets fatigued due to the lack of back support, increasing the chance of back injury.
So, Ergonomic chairs are always better than sitting on a regular chair.
Although I have discussed four common types of ergonomic office chairs and their effect on our back, there are many other types of ergonomic chair that have a similar effect on our back.
All the ergonomic chairs require more back muscle activation due to upright posture except office chair, offering better productivity.
However, the office chair offers all the ergonomic adjustments for prolonged sitting, ensuring dynamic sitting, comfort, and productivity.