Ergonomic office chairs are chairs that are designed to allow the user to perform office work in comfort for prolonged periods of time. Using a non-ergonomic chair at work can lead to the development of chronic pain, and certainly has a negative impact on performance and productivity.
Why it's important to adjust ergonomic office chairs
Unfortunately, they've yet to invent the ergonomic chair that automatically adjusts itself, so it's always necessary to spend some time manually adjusting an ergonomic chair in order to get the benefits that ergonomic office chairs can provide.
The adjustment period for ergonomic office chairs can last up to a few weeks. Taking more time doesn't necessarily mean you're doing anything wrong - it can simply be a matter of fine tuning until you've got that perfect fit.
We've compiled some general hints on how to adjust ergonomic office chairs properly, so that you create a fit that allows you to work in comfort. Not all ergonomic office chairs have the same adjustable parts, but these or equivalent parts can be found on most quality models.
When adjusting the seat height, make sure your feet are flat on the floor or foot rest. If your feet aren't touching the floor, then you are at risk of developing circulation problems in your legs. If you can't reach the desk or keyboard comfortably while keeping the seat low enough to have your feet on the floor or foot rest, the desk may need to be adjusted instead.
The tilt tension controls how tight or loose the chair's reclining mechanism is. If it's too loose, the chair will start to recline without much pressure, which may force you to lean forward in your seat, while if it's too tight, it will be difficult to recline.
If the arm height is too low, you will have unnecessary pressure on your shoulders and upper back, so you may find that you have to have the arms a little higher than what you might have been used to with a non-ergonomic chair. Give it a little time and see if you can't get used to the slightly higher arms. If they remain uncomfortable, though, that's a reliable sign that they should probably be a bit lower.
The ideal arm angle depends mostly on the types of tasks you do. If you need to move around in your chair a lot, working at a large desk space, it might be preferable to have the arms rotated out a bit. Also, as a general rule, having them in while typing and out while using the mouse works well.
The forward angle or tilt position is generally used when also using a higher chair height. This is especially common when used in conjunction with a foot ring or foot rest for drafting purposes. When the chair is set in the forward position, it's usually a good idea to also reduce the tilt range in order to ensure proper back support.
The tilt range or tilt limiter controls how far the ergonomic office chair is allowed to recline. If you want to stay upright at all times, set the tilt limiter at the minimum setting.