How to Sit on an Ergonomic Chair – 6 Essential Steps

how to sit on an ergonomic chair

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So, you’ve got yourself an ergonomic chair. That’s a great start, but it’s not just about owning one. Adjusting the chair and positioning yourself correctly is crucial if you want to reap all the benefits. In this article, we’re going to walk you through the simple yet vital steps to make the most of your chair. 

Key Takeaways

    • Adjust Height: Ensure the chair height allows you to keep your feet flat on the ground, with your thighs parallel to the floor, while having your knees at a 90-degree angle. This ensures proper weight distribution. 

    • Lumbar Support Usage: Adjust the lumbar support to fit the natural curve of your lower back, reducing the risk of lower back pain.

    • Utilizing Seat Pan Depth: Ergonomic recommendations for the gap between the seat edge and the back of your knees vary, with a range between 0.5 inches to 4 inches (approximately 1.27 cm to 10.16 cm). This range accommodates different body sizes and chair designs. Just make sure to prevent pressure on the back of the knees when sitting back and ensuring your back is comfortably against the chair’s backrest.

    • Arm Positioning: Position the armrests so they allow your arms to rest comfortably with your shoulders relaxed. This helps reduce strain on your shoulders and upper back. 

    • Correct Spinal Alignment: Sit back in the chair to use its full depth for supporting your spine. Your back should be flush against the chair, utilizing the lumbar support. Avoid slouching and aim for a neutral posture that supports the natural curve of your spine.

    • Head Positioning: Keep your head in a neutral position. You should be able to look at your monitor without straining your neck or eyes. Position your monitor so that it’s between 20 to 40 inches (50 to 100 cm) from your eyes. The top of the monitor should typically be at eye level, with your eyes looking slightly downward at the middle of the screen. Tilting the monitor back 10° to 20° can further enhance viewing comfort.
    • Angle between trunk and thighs: The trunk and thighs should form an angle slightly greater than 90 degrees, so there is less pressure on your lower back discs and thighs.

Why Sitting Correctly Generally Matters

Man with lower back pain.

Health Risks of Poor Seating Posture

  • Musculoskeletal issues: Slouching or hunching over your desk can lead to significant musculoskeletal issues over time, with the common ones being chronic back, shoulder and neck pain.
  • Cardiovascular Issues: Poor posture can also affect your circulation, increasing the risk of cardiovascular problems and other health issues.
  • Muscle Degeneration: Sitting in the same position for extended periods can lead to muscle atrophy and other health issues.

The Ergonomic Solution: How It Helps

  • Reduced Strain: Ergonomic chairs are mainly designed to reduce strain on your back, neck, shoulders, and legs by adapting to your body and allowing for a comfortable and natural seating position.
  • Spinal Health: A good chair supports the natural curve of your spine, which is crucial for preventing back pain and other spinal issues.
  • Improved Blood Flow: Proper seating posture promotes better blood circulation, reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues and other problems like varicose veins.

The Correct Way to Sit on an Ergonomic Chair – 6 Essential Steps

correct sitting posture
  • Optimize Chair Height: It’s crucial to fine-tune your chair’s height to maintain an ideal sitting posture. The goal is to position the chair so that your feet rest comfortably flat on the ground. This alignment supports your thighs to remain parallel to the floor. Additionally, aim for your knees to form a right angle, approximately at 90 degrees. This specific posture helps in evenly distributing your body weight across the sitting bones and thighs, reducing strain on any single part of your lower body.


  • Utilize Lumbar Support Effectively: Proper adjustment of your chair’s lumbar support is key for spinal health. Position the lumbar support to align seamlessly with the natural curvature of your lower back. This means you should make sure your lower back is comfortably resting against the lumbar support while you are sitting back fully in your chair. This personalized fit provides essential support to the lumbar region, crucial for maintaining the spine’s natural ‘S’ shape. By doing so, you significantly reduce the strain and stress on your lower back muscles and spine. This strategic placement is especially beneficial for preventing or alleviating lower back pain, a common issue for individuals who sit for prolonged periods.


  • Making Use of the Right Seat Pan Depth: While comfortably sitting back in your chair and making sure your back is snugly resting against the chair’s backrest, you should also make sure the chair has the right seat depth. Ergonomic guidelines suggest maintaining a gap between the front edge of the seat and the back of your knees. This gap should ideally be in the range of 0.5 inches to 4 inches (approximately 1.27 cm to 10.16 cm), accommodating various body sizes and chair designs. Adjusting the seat pan to achieve this specific distance ensures that your lower legs and knees have adequate space, preventing any undue pressure at the back of your knees. This space is vital as it aids in proper circulation and reduces the risk of discomfort or numbness.


  • Arm Positioning: The correct positioning of your chair’s armrests is vital for upper body comfort. Set the armrests at a height where your arms can rest naturally while keeping your shoulders in a relaxed, tension-free posture. This adjustment is crucial in minimizing strain on your shoulders and upper back, areas often prone to stiffness and discomfort in prolonged sitting scenarios. Additionally, aim to maintain your elbows at an angle between 90 to 120 degrees. This specific angle promotes a more ergonomic arm position, aligning your forearms comfortably with your work surface. This not only aids in reducing the risk of repetitive strain injuries but also supports a healthier overall posture while working at a desk.


  • Proper Head and Monitor Alignment: It’s crucial for your overall posture and comfort to keep your head in a neutral position while working. To achieve this, ensure that your monitor is placed at an optimal distance and height. The ideal distance for your monitor is between 20 to 40 inches (50 to 100 cm) from your eyes, as this range helps in reducing eye strain and maintaining a comfortable viewing angle. The top of the monitor should be positioned at your eye level. This setup allows your eyes to gaze slightly downward when looking at the center of the screen, aligning with the natural angle of your vision. Additionally, consider tilting the monitor back by about 10° to 20°. This slight tilt can further improve your viewing comfort, reducing the need for neck adjustments and aiding in keeping your head in a neutral, strain-free position.


  • Adjusting Trunk-Thigh Angle for Ergonomic Seating: To achieve an ergonomic seating position, pay attention to the angle between your upper body (trunk) and your thighs. It is recommended to keep an angle slightly greater than 90 degrees, typically around 100 degrees. Why? It’s because such an angle helps in distributing your body weight more evenly, thus alleviating undue pressure on your lower back and thigh regions while still allowing for a comfortable posture that supports the head and neck effectively.


In summary, sitting correctly in an ergonomic chair is crucial for your comfort and health, especially when you’re seated for long periods. Simple adjustments like setting the right chair height, using lumbar support, adjusting the seat depth, positioning your arms and head correctly, and maintaining a good angle between your trunk and thighs can make a big difference. These steps help maintain your natural posture, reduce strain on your body, and increase your comfort and productivity.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Is it okay to cross my legs while sitting on an ergonomic chair?

It’s best to avoid crossing your legs. This position can lead to posture imbalance and reduced circulation in the legs.

2. Is it necessary to have a headrest on an ergonomic chair?

While not indispensable, a headrest can provide additional support for your neck, especially if you lean back or recline frequently in your chair.

3. How do I adjust the backrest of my ergonomic chair for optimal support?

The backrest of an ergonomically designed chair should support the natural curve of your spine, especially the lumbar area, and allow for slight recline to reduce spinal pressure.

4. How can I tell if my monitor is at the right height?

Normally, your monitor should be at eye level so that your eyes naturally look slightly downward at the center of the screen, helping to reduce neck pain and eye strain. Just make sure that your eyes remain relaxed when you look at your monitor. When your eyes are relaxed, they naturally gaze slightly downward.