Best Office Chairs
CR's in-house ergonomics expert reviewed eight popular models from Branch, Herman Miller, Steelcase, and others. Here's what we learned.
A well-designed office chair is one of the smartest upgrades you can make to your home office.
Ideally, it’s comfortable to sit in, easy to adjust, and provides plenty of support for your back, butt, and arms.
But with so many models to choose from, it can be hard to find the one that’s right for you, especially if you’re shopping online and unable to test for yourself how well the chair fits your build. Given the high prices on certain designs, the last thing you want to do is spend your hard-earned money on a model that leaves you in pain.
How to Properly Sit in a Chair
According to Ritchey, there are a few high-level principles to follow when sizing up a chair. Ultimately, the more it adjusts to fit your torso and limbs the better off you’ll be.
The armrests should support your arms, elbows at your sides (and bent at a 90- to 100-degree angle), while your shoulders are completely relaxed. You may need to raise or lower the height of the armrest to make that happen. Some models also let you slide armrests forward or backward, pivot them, and set them wider apart to provide more clearance for your hips.
The seat should be high enough for you to keep both feet flat on the ground or on a footrest, with equal pressure applied to both. That means your knees are bent at an angle of no less than 90 degrees.
Ideally, you want to adjust the seat pan to leave a roughly two-inch space between the back of your knee and the edge of the seat. “If you don’t have a gap there, it can cause pressure and discomfort,” Ritchey says.
The backrest should ably support your back, of course, but also allow you to ease into a comfortable recline. To start, you want the angle between your torso and thighs to be a little more than 90 degrees, with the lumbar support positioned to help you maintain the natural inward curvature of your lower spine.