Is That “Ergonomic Chair” Really Ergonomic?

Ergonomic ChairNot everybody knows exactly what ergonomic means, but it’s getting to the point where everybody knows an “ergonomic chair” is better than just some plain old chair. Thus even Joe Newbie is more likely to buy the ergonomic chair than the chair that is not advertised as ergonomic.

The problem is stores and manufacturers are starting to put the word ergonomic in front of every chair they sell, whether it has anything to do with ergonomics or not. There is more to ergonomics than a little added cushioning in the seat.

So, What Is an Ergonomic Chair?

Ergonomics is the study of equipment designed with humans in mind, meant to reduce operator fatigue and discomfort. Specifically, an ergonomic chair should be highly adjustable, including not just a knob for lowering and raising the chair but adjustability in the back tilt and the height of the arm rests. An ergonomic chair should also have a sturdy frame (avoid plastic), a great deal of support, especially in the lumbar region, and padding that has some give and supports your body without losing shape.

Real ergonomic chairs cost hundreds of dollars. Look for manufacturers that specialize in ergonomics and are known for producing quality chairs. Examples are Herman Miller, Neutral Posture, and BodyBilt. Avoid gimmicky chairs (such as kneeling chairs and ball chairs) unless you have actually had the opportunity to try one and feel it’s a good fit for your body. Remember, the chair that is comfortable when you first sit in it may not remain so after several hours.

Why and When Should You Consider Buying an Ergonomic Chair?

An ergonomic chair promotes good posture, reduces the fatigue that comes with sitting in one position for a protracted period of time, and it can even reduce the likelihood of developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries (many of these hand and wrist injuries start with poor posture at the computer).

Anybody who spends more than an hour a day at the computer should consider buying a good ergonomic chair. If you work 8 hours a day or more at the computer, you should definitely have a good ergonomic chair.

About The Author: TC Thorn has more information on her site Ergonomics Information.

Randy Rasa

Randy is an engineer/programmer/web designer who has suffered from repetitive strain injury off and on for over a decade.


  1. Another key concept in ergonomics in the workplace is the idea of “movement”. HAG, a chair manufacturer from Norway, coin the phrase: “the best sitting position is the next one” i.e. a constantly changing or mobile posture is key to feeling less fatigued throughout the day. The capisco allows you real freedom of movement and you can sit on it forwards, backwards and even sideways.

  2. I got this ergonomic seat after having used one with an Alexander technique teacher. It’s worked well for me. Wonderful for sitting at a desk or playing guitar. Just rocking on it frees my back.

    It’s based on motion, finding good balance, and supporting your own body in a natural way instead of being propped up.

  3. This is is nice, I have had experience with it at my office. I’ve been really gravitating to ANOTHER company from Norway called Varier. They make the original kneeling chair, the Variable balans, and they have a great new line of more “design friendly” chairs. They really have a great ergonomic chair for many rooms of my home. They’re also eco friendly, which is a key purchasing point for me lately. I have varier at my dinning room table, my living room and my sons computer desk.

    The products are still slightly difficult to find in the U.S. but I heard that a company called New Designs for Comfort is the new U.S. distributor…

    great, great products…

  4. As the owner of a store specializing in products for those suffering from back pain, I disagaree with the comment that kneeling chairs are “gimmicky”. The original Variable balans kneeling chair by Varier and its “siblings” the Thatsit, Multi and Wing are extraordinary examples of chairs that are actually good for you. The balans concept naturally distributes your weight over your spine and helps to retain the natural curverature of the lumbar region. This allows one to sit comfortably for long periods of time. Each chair encourages movement…after all we were not born to sit still.

  5. I stumbled upon this site, and for Luanne’s benefit I will list her store’s website. I am a regular customer and a huge fan of Backcare Basics and the products they carry. Especially the the Varier kneeling chairs!

  6. While it is true that some ergonomic chairs cost a lot, I disagree with having to spend hundreds and hundreds to get ergonomic relief. Depending on the chair, and the pain you are suffering from, there are various options within most budgets for good quality ergonomic chairs. (That said, getting an ergonomic chair for under $250 probably is not a good idea). Also, people tend to focus on the chair only, and that would be like eating cake without milk. They need to understand their work environment, and ergonomic accessories as well as sitting posture are just as important in relieving “cubicle” related body pains.

Comments are closed