Ergonomics

How to Adjust Ergonomic Office Chairs

How to Adjust Ergonomic Office Chairs

Regardless of how much money you invest into ergonomic products, if you have not set up your workstation correctly, you might still experience some workplace woes. Here at Posture People, we are well accustomed to adjusting chairs to make them just right for each and every individual regardless of size, height and shape.

If you are using an ergonomic chair for the first time, or some pesky colleague has re-adjusted your chair, use our guides for premium posture. Download them, print them out, and stick them up!

Ergonomic Office Chair Adjustment

The following four points are important to help support the back, neck, and shoulders when setting up an office chair and computer.

  • Office chair back support. The back of the office chair provides important postural support, so it should be adjusted to fit the individual user. When necessary, an extra low back support should be added so that the back rests comfortably against the office chair when working on the computer. Having the right back support in the office chair supports the natural curve of the low back so that the back muscles do not have to work so hard to maintain correct posture. Without proper back support, over time the muscles fatigue and the natural tendency is to slouch forward, straining the structures in the low back.
  • Keyboard in easy reach. The computer keyboard should be positioned close enough to the body so that it is not necessary to lean forward to reach it. Both elbows should be at the sides of the body when sitting in the office chair and typing on the computer, not reaching out in front of the body.
  • Computer screen at eye level. The top of the computer screen should be placed so that it is at eye level. If the screen is too low it will be necessary to bend forward to look at it. Since this cannot be done with a laptop (because the screen and keyboard are connected), the laptop should be boosted up (e.g. placed on a few books) so that the laptop screen is at eye level, with an external keyboard plugged in and placed within easy reach. Extra keyboards are inexpensive and can be put at the proper height so that the elbows are bent to 90 degrees while working. Conversely, some may prefer to use their laptop keyboard, and if this is the case the same objective can be accomplished by leaving the laptop keyboard on the desk and plugging the laptop into a separate computer screen that is placed at eye level.
  • Arm support. The arm supports on an office chair should allow the elbows to rest comfortably at 90 degrees along the sides of the body while working at the computer. Arm supports that are non-existent, too low, or too wide for an individual user make the shoulders hunch forward, eventually dragging the neck and spine forward with it.

Choose a chair with

  • Controls that are easy to operate from sitting position.
  • A seat that adjusts for both height and tilt.
  • A seat that does not put pressure the back of thighs or knees.
  • A seat with a front edge that curves towards the floor.
  • Breathable, non-slippery fabric on the seat.
  • A backrest shaped to support the lower back.
  • A stable five-point base.
  • Wheels or casters suitable for the type of flooring.
  • A swivel mechanism.
  • Armrests that can be adjusted to the elbow height when your upper arms are hanging down and your forearms are at about a 90 degree angle to the upper arms.
  • Armrests that do not interfere with free movements within the workstation.

Adjusting an Ergonomic Office Chair by Your Height

  • Stand in front of the chair. Adjust the height so the highest point of the seat, (when in the horizontal position), is just below the knee cap.
  • Sit on the chair and keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Check that the clearance between the front edge of the seat and the lower part of the legs (your calves) fits a clenched fist (about 5 cm or 2 inches).
  • Adjust the back rest forwards and backwards as well as up and down so that it fits the hollow in your lower back.
  • Sit upright with your arms hanging loosely by your sides. Bend your elbows at about a right angle (90 degrees) and adjust the armrest(s) height until they barely touch the undersides of the elbows.
  • Remove the armrests from the chair if this level cannot be achieved or if armrests, in their lowest adjustment, elevate your elbows even slightly.
  • Tilt the seat itself forwards or backwards if you prefer.
  • Different office tasks require different equipment, accessories and layouts.
  • Nonetheless, the chair and its adjustment remain constant for the majority of setups in a typical office environment.

For professional advice and guidance on choosing and setting up your ergonomic office chair, click here to get in touch with us today!

Cover Image Credit: Safe Computing Tips