The Covid-19 crisis has brought many Americans into a somewhat unfamiliar environment, forcing them into working from home in makeshift home offices. By now, some of those remote workers may be experiencing discomfort, lacking a well-positioned workspace — including an ergonomic keyboard and an ergonomic mouse. Previously, for those who would go into an office for work, they could expect to move around through their commute, walk around the office or head out for lunch, says Scott Bautch, DC, a chiropractor in Wausau, WI. Now, “your body has no variety, you’re spending too much time in one place,” he said. “Especially if you’re sitting in a chair not designed for work. Sofas and living room chairs are made to lay back, not sit up and work.”
So what’s the most effective solution? Off the cusp, it’s changing where you sit. An appropriate and quality desk chair can help better position your body at your desk and make sitting easier on your back. But how do you find the right type of office chair? We consulted medical professionals and ergonomic experts for tips to help you find the best chair to fit your home office setup.
Sitting hunched over a desk for an extended period of time can lead to long-term joint and back pain, said Bautch. The best way to avoid bad posture is through ergonomics, which the Occupational Hazard and Safety Administration (OHSA) describes as “fitting a job to a person.” Poor ergonomics while working could lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which include carpal tunnel syndrome, muscle strains and low back injuries, according to OSHA.
Best ergonomic desk chair for you
Here are some of the best ergonomic office chairs that can help improve body posture, reduce pain and keep you focused throughout the day. While some of the below might not fit your budget — and as shipping and delivery options ebb and flow — many retailers categorize ergonomic office chairs, which you can shop according to the guidance we got from experts (as well as specific reviews that might address your specific needs):
- Ergonomic chairs at Wayfair
- Ergonomic chairs at Walmart
- Ergonomic chairs on Amazon
- Ergonomic chairs at Office Depot
- Ergonomic chairs at The Home Depot
Best overall ergonomic desk chair: HermanMiller
This ergonomic chair comes with a head cushion and high mesh back, allowing you to rest your head and maintain a straight body posture at the same time. The model comes in three different sizes — small, medium and large. And each chair gives you a 12-year warranty. The Aeron comes with plenty of bells and whistles for an extra cost, including adjustable arms, seat angle adjustment and adjustable lumbar support.
Best affordable desk chair: Modway
2. Modway Articulate Ergonomic Mesh Office Chair (limited availability)
This basic chair offers ergonomic support for a fraction of the price. It comes with a breathable mesh back, thick mesh seat cushion and a variety of colors. It is height-adjustable and has a 360-degree swivel for great mobility. The seat cushion is six inches thick and allows for one-touch adjustments.
Best adjustable chair: Steelcase
This ergonomic chair changes in shape to fit your body’s movements throughout the day. It sports four-way adjustable arms that move in height, width, depth and pivot. The chair has a seat lever to easily adjust your height, and has rollers on the bottom for easy mobility. The seat can also increase or decrease in depth to accommodate for different leg lengths and reduce pressure behind the knees.
Best basic chair: BodyBilt
This office chair has an adjustable seat and arms, and a high mesh back to fully support your spine while sitting for extended periods of time. The mesh allows for breathability, so you’re not sweating at your desk. While more affordable than other models, the Sola LT still offers great lumbar support for anyone working from home. The model comes in three colors.
Best adjustable and stylish office chair: X-Chair
X-Chair essentially lets you choose precisely what you want the chair to be and do for you with an optional headrest, various widths for your seat, wheel casters and other bells and whistles. The chair comes in four different colors and its armrests move in all dimensions, allowing you to adjust their height, width, depth and even angle. Otherwise, the headrest and and backrest let you find the most comfortable position — and the one most beneficial for your posture.
Best designed desk chair: HermanMiller
This unique ergonomic chair comes in many different color combinations, bringing a pop of color into your workspace. The plastic-webbed back — the design inspired by suspension bridges — and cushion keeps you cool and comfortable throughout the day. The Sayl is more affordable than the Aeron chair, and comes with many of the same benefits, including strong lumbar support and a 12-year warranty.
Best ergonomic chair for gaming: Ficmax
It might look a bit strange, but this gaming-first ergonomic chair from Ficmax allows you to adjust into a tilt, rock or swivel (but only up to 180 degrees) and can support up to 300 pounds. A retractable footrest and adjustable armrest will let the gamer in your life recline into the best position to win and the 4.8-inch-thick memory foam seat should help keep them comfortable even through longer games. If you have more to spend or are looking to gift someone, check out the Herman Miller and Logitech collaboration: Embody Gaming Chair.
Best ergonomic chair accessories
Already have an office chair? A simple addition can easily convert any standard chair into an ergonomic one. Here are some highly-rated options.
This disc sits on top of your office chair, providing stability and balance while training your core. The balancing aspect of the cushion helps you sit up straight throughout the work day, improving your posture and reducing lower back pain.
This cushion provides more comfort than the mesh back support attachment. It’s made from memory foam, compressing to the shape of your back and neck. The cushion, which comes in multiple colors, is equipped with adjustable straps and is washable.
This mesh attachment easily attaches to your existing office chair, transforming it into an ergonomic seat. It helps keep your back straight for extended hours and helps to prevent slouching. The mesh also provides some ventilation for your back.
What is ergonomics and why does it matter?
Ergonomics is the act of making a workstation as friendly to the body as possible to reduce stress, said Jonathan Pulieo, MS CPE — the managing director of office solutions firm Humanscale. Working in the right posture is critical for your long-term physical health. Sitting for a couple hours or more in a poor position puts tremendous strain on the shoulders, back and neck and can lead to carpal tunnel, tendonitis, lower back pain, neck strain and more, said Pulieo.
“Dynamic sitting, or the concept of varying your posture throughout the day, is critical for facilitating spinal nutrition and reducing fatigue associated with static muscle loading,” Pulieo said.
Furniture can provide simple solutions to prevent some of these issues, among them ergonomic office chairs and chair accessories like cushions or attachable seat backings. Ergonomic chairs allow you to change your posture throughout the day without changing chairs altogether, said Pulieo. It’s important to make sure you feel supported and comfortable throughout the workday and are sitting in a way that prevents long-term injuries.
How to shop for ergonomic desk chairs and other desktop accessories
Some companies label their chairs as “ergonomic” without the backing of science, notes Karen Loesing, a physical therapist assistant and owner of The Ergonomic Expert, a consulting company for ergonomic office evaluations. It’s essential to look past the marketing language and rather at how the chair is actually built.
“You will rarely find an office chair nowadays that doesn’t claim to be ergonomic,” she said. The main difference between ergonomic desk chairs and regular chairs is adjustability, said Loesing. A normal office chair will likely have fixed armrests or seat heights, while an ergonomic chair can be adjusted based on your needs. This can include adjustable back heights, seat depth, armrests, lumbar support and more.
“An ergonomic chair has to have great flexibility and move to the contours of your body,” said Bautch. “The standard desk chair does not fit the majority of the population.
- The chair accommodates your body shape and size
- The chair allows you to move through multiple postures while supporting the natural curves of the spine and maintaining good alignment
- The chair is appropriate for your daily tasks
Ergonomic office chairs greatly range in price, though “you do generally get what you pay for,” Bautch noted. It may take some time for your body to adapt to using an ergonomic office chair or accessory. Pulieo recommended buying a chair with a long-term warranty — testing out a chair for an extended period of time will help determine if the chair is right for you.