How to Choose the Right Ergonomic Chair: A Comprehensive Guide

An ergonomic chair

Table of Contents

Are you tired of backaches and discomfort while working long hours at your desk? You’re not alone. The culprit is often the chair you’re sitting on. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back—literally! In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to choose the right ergonomic chair that offers not just direct comfort but also the right support for your back, hips, and thighs.

Key Takeaways

  • Adjustable Seat Height: Ensure the chair allows your feet to rest flat on the floor with knees at a 90-degree angle for optimal posture and reduced strain on your thighs and lower back.

  • Adjustable Backrest: This feature allows you to find your perfect recline angle, ensuring you maintain a comfortable position while reducing the pressure on your lower back discs.

  • Lumbar Support: Choose a chair with adjustable lumbar support to conform to your lower back curve, essential for reducing back pain.

  • Seat Depth: The seat should allow you to keep a gap approximately the width of three fingers between the back of the knee joint and the front edge of the seat. Adjustable seat depth allows you to find the exact depth which not only fits your body but also is the most comfortable for you.

  • Seat WidthOptimal seat width accommodates your body size while allowing for freedom of movement and correct armrest positioning.

  • Material Choice: Consider breathable mesh chairs for warm environments or well-padded leather chairs for softness, depending on your environment and preference.

  • Adjustable Armrests: Look for armrests that adjust to reduce strain on your shoulders and keep your arms comfortable. They should be adjustable in height and width.

  • Mobility and Stability Features: Choose chairs with suitable casters and a swivel base for effortless movement and to prevent unnecessary stretching or twisting.

  • Additional Features: Contemplate adding headrests for neck support and footrests for relaxation and comfort during breaks.

Adjustable Seat Height and Backrest

The ideal seat height should allow your feet to rest flat on the floor, ensuring that your thighs are parallel to the ground. This positioning ensures you maintain good posture and helps reduce pressure on the back of the thighs and lower back, reducing discomfort in these areas, reducing the risk of posture-related pain and improving blood flow.

The ability to adjust the backrest offers the flexibility to find a recline angle that suits your personal preferences. Setting the backrest slightly greater than 90 degrees is recommended for a more even distribution of your body weight. The adjustability allows you to find your perfect balance between a neutral and relaxed posture and taking some weight off your lower back.

Lumbar Support: The Backbone of Comfort

ergonomic chair with lumbar support

Lumbar support in ergonomic chairs targets the lower back, supporting its natural curve. By maintaining the natural curvature of the lower back, lumbar support encourages the rest of the spine to align correctly as well. This aids in maintaining good overall posture, helping to mitigate various posture-related issues beyond just lower back pain.

Types of Lumbar Support 

Ergonomic chairs come with either fixed or adjustable lumbar support. Adjustable lumbar support is regarded as the superior option. It allows you to fine-tune the position and pressure, ensuring the support precisely fits the unique curvature of your spine and your seating preferences. This customization is key in providing optimal support and comfort, especially during long hours of use.

Benefits of Padded Lumbar Support 

Padded lumbar support, typically made from materials like memory foam, offers additional benefits. The cushioning conforms to the shape of your back, providing tailored support that distributes pressure evenly. This helps reduce stress on specific points in your lower back, further enhancing comfort and aiding in the prevention of lumbar pain.

Finding the Right Fit 

Regardless of the type of lumbar support, it’s crucial that it fits snugly against the curve of your lower back. If it doesn’t, you risk postural issues, which can lead to back pain and other posture-related problems. With adjustable support, you have the advantage of fine-tuning the fit, ensuring maximum support and maintaining an ideal posture while sitting.

The Importance of Seat Width and Depth

Choosing the right ergonomic chair also requires careful attention to seat depth and seat width, as these elements are important for ensuring comfort and proper support. The right seat depth ensures proper support and comfort for the lower back and legs, while seat width is essential for accommodating hip breadth and providing adequate space for movement.

Seat Depth

  • Optimal Gap: Aim for a gap of about three fingers’ width between the back of the knees and the front edge of the seat. This prevents pressure on the back of the legs, enhancing circulation and reducing discomfort.
  • Benefits of Adjustability: Adjustable seat depth is beneficial, as it not only accommodates various body sizes but also allows for precise fine-tuning of the seat depth. This customization enables users to find the exact depth that offers the right balance of proper support and personal preference.
  • Postural Support: Proper seat depth helps maintain good posture and alleviates stress on the lumbar region, contributing to overall spinal health.

Seat Width

  • Hip Room: Adequate width is necessary to comfortably fit the user’s hips, without being too wide which can cause reaching issues for armrests or desk access.
  • Space for Movement: Enough width allows for slight movements and adjustments while seated, aiding in comfort and reducing the risk of cramping or stiffness. 

Leather vs. Mesh (and Fabric): A Comparative Look

Leather and mesh, often paired with a well-padded fabric seat pan, are widely regarded as the best materials for ergonomic chairs, featured in most high-end, quality designs.

Leather Office Chairs

Leather office chairs are popular for their luxurious, executive look, adding a sense of elegance to any office environment. They are durable and can withstand regular use over time. Cleaning leather chairs is relatively straightforward, as spills and surface dirt can typically be wiped off easily. However, for deep cleaning, special leather cleaners are required. Regular conditioning is also important for leather maintenance, as it helps preserve the material’s flexibility and appearance. 

Therefore, the overall maintenance of leather chairs is more demanding compared to other materials like mesh, considering the need for specific cleaning and conditioning products. Additionally, leather chairs may not be ideal in warmer conditions due to their lack of breathability, and they can be more expensive, which might not suit all budgets or eco-friendly preferences.

High-quality leather chairs typically feature comprehensive padding, which is covered entirely in leather. This design offers a plush, cushioned seating experience, potentially providing greater overall comfort compared to mesh chairs.

Mesh Chairs (with Mesh Backrest and Fabric Seat Pan) 

Mesh chairs with a fabric seat pan and mesh backrest are increasingly popular in modern office environments. These chairs offer a blend of breathability and comfort. The mesh backrest allows for excellent air circulation, helping to keep the user cool and comfortable. This feature is particularly beneficial in warmer climates or for individuals who tend to get warm easily. 

The fabric seat pan, which should be padded, provides a softer seating surface compared to a full mesh chair, offering a comfortable compromise. However, that fabric component may not be as breathable as the mesh, and is more susceptible to stains and wear over time compared to leather.

Mesh Chairs (with Full Mesh Design) 

Chairs with both a mesh seat pan and mesh backrest maximize breathability and are ideal for maintaining a comfortable body temperature throughout the day. This full mesh design is especially suitable for hot environments or for users who prefer a cooler seating experience. These chairs are also typically lightweight and easy to maintain. 

However, the downside is that the mesh, while breathable, may not provide the same level of cushioning and long-term comfort as padded seats. Over time, some users might find the mesh less supportive, potentially leading to discomfort during extended periods of use.

More Than Just a Resting Place for Your Arms

Adjustable armrests of an ergonomic chair

Adjustable Height 

The armrests should align with your desk height and allow your arms to rest comfortably while typing or using a mouse. When your arms are supported at the right height, it alleviates the burden on your shoulders and arms, reducing pain and fatigue in these areas.

Adjustable Width and Padding

Broad, cushioned armrests are ideal for extended use, as they ensure proper support and comfort. They should also be adjustable in width to offer individual support for your arms and shoulders.

Ideal Arm Placement 

Use the armrests to support your arms in a relaxed position, with your forearms parallel to the ground and shoulders comfortably relaxed. At this position, your elbows should form a 90-120-degree angle, ensuring that your shoulders are relaxed and not hunched. This alignment minimizes strain on your shoulders and helps maintain a neutral wrist position while typing or using a mouse.

Moving Comfortably: Casters and Swivel Bases

casters of an ergonomic chair


  • Appropriate for Flooring: Ensure the chair’s casters are compatible with your flooring type. Harder casters are ideal for carpeted floors, while softer rubberized wheels are better for hard surfaces like wood or tile to prevent damage and ensure smooth movement.
  • Locking Mechanisms: Some chairs come with casters that can lock, providing stability when you need it. This feature can be particularly useful in situations where you require steadiness, such as when focusing intently on a task.

Swivel Base

  • Ease of Movement: A chair with a smooth swivel base allows you to turn easily, facilitating access to various parts of your workspace without the need to twist your back or overreach. This can significantly reduce strain on your back, neck, and shoulders.
  • Efficient Workspace Navigation: With a swivel chair, you can effortlessly pivot between tasks, enhancing your productivity and comfort. This is especially beneficial in setups where you need to interact with multiple devices or areas of a desk.

Additional Features and Accessories: The Cherry on Top

ergonomic office chair with footrest
headrest of an ergonomic chair

While the core features are non-negotiable, some additional features can significantly enhance both comfort and health benefits. 


Headrests provide extra support for your neck and head, especially beneficial if you often find yourself leaning back or reclining. This extra support not only offers more direct comfort but also helps in reducing neck stiffness and discomfort that can result from poor posture and maintaining a static posture for extended periods.


Built-in footrests are useful for moments of relaxation during breaks. They allow you to elevate your feet, providing a change from the regular sitting posture and a moment of rest. This feature, while not essential, adds an element of comfort during short periods of relaxation away from work tasks.


Choosing the right ergonomic office chair is not just a matter of direct comfort but also of long-term well-being and productivity. From lumbar support to adjustable armrests and additional features, there’s a lot to consider. The right ergonomic chair can make a huge difference in your work experience, so choose carefully.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

How important is lumbar support in an ergonomic chair?

Lumbar support is crucial as it helps maintain the natural curve of your spine, promoting good posture and thus alleviating issues like back pain.

Are mesh chairs better than leather chairs?

Mesh chairs offer better breathability, while leather chairs provide a more cushioned feel. The choice depends on your personal comfort preference and the office environment.

What’s the difference between a standard chair and an ergonomic desk chair?

Standard chairs often lack the features that make a chair ergonomic, such as adjustable height and good lumbar support. An ergonomic desk chair is designed with these features to support your posture and reduce discomfort.

How do I know if the chair offers good lumbar support?

A chair with good lumbar support will have a backrest that aligns with the natural curve of your spine, providing targeted support to your lower back and helping to relieve back discomfort. To determine if a chair offers proper lumbar support, sit down and feel whether the chair’s backrest fills the curve in your lower back. If there’s a noticeable gap or if you feel pressure points, the lumbar support may not be adequate. If you are not in a physical shop to try it out, opting for a chair with adjustable lumbar support can be a wise decision.