Best Ergonomic Chairs

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

50 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
415 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best ergonomic chairs

Last Updated October 2019

If you spend long periods working or gaming at a desk, an ergonomic chair is a must. Without one, you can not only get a sore back but your work (or play) will also suffer because you won’t be able to concentrate properly.

The best ergonomic chairs are designed to correct bad posture and thus naturally lead to better long-term comfort. However, with the huge variety of chairs available, it’s not easy to differentiate between those that are truly ergonomic and those that just look good but offer no positive benefits. You have to know something about ergonomics before you can even begin to make a decision. For example, what’s the difference between passive ergonomics and active ergonomics when it comes to finding the best chair?

We can help. At BestReviews, we have been investigating ergonomic chairs for you. We’ve picked several favorites that deliver great performance while keeping an eye on budgets. In the following buying guide, we look at ergonomic chair construction and features in more detail.

Almost all ergonomic chairs require some assembly. It’s not complicated, and it seldom requires anything more than a screwdriver, which is often included.

Key considerations

Passive vs. active ergonomics

Passive: Traditionally, in order to make a chair more comfortable, manufacturers have added more padding for what you could call “passive” ergonomics. When you sit in an overly padded chair, your initial reaction is positive, but unless there is firm support, particularly in the lumbar region, it can become uncomfortable to sit in for longer periods. Good ergonomic seating of this type has supportive pads positioned at key points. The racing-style seat is a good example.

Active: Chairs with active ergonomics may or may not provide padding, but they do offer lots of adjustability, and not just for seat height. These chairs adjust in a whole raft of other areas, from how much flex the seat pad provides to movable back and head supports to variable armrest height, seat tilt, and reclining action.

Clearly the more adjustments you have, the better you can fine-tune the chair to your height and weight. However, increased flexibility usually means increased price, and most people have some budget constraints.

Lumbar support

When it comes to chairs, if there is a single area that’s most important, it’s lumbar support. It’s the part of the body that gives you the most problems when you sit for long periods, so it’s the one experts tell us to focus on. Proper posture there makes you sit upright, with additional benefits to your whole spinal column, particularly the neck, where improper alignment is a common cause of headaches.

Maximum quality and comfort

Smart design and wide-ranging adjustability combine to provide an extremely high level of seating comfort. Breathable mesh maintains healthy airflow around your body. Headrest, back, armrests, and seat can be individually tuned to match your physique. Although assembly instructions come in for some criticism (and rightly so), the individual components are well made. The finished product provides great support and is very durable.

Ergonomic chair features

Mesh: One of the main choices is between upholstered and mesh chairs. While there is an element of personal taste involved, there are also real ergonomic issues. Mesh chairs provide for airflow all around the body and so should keep you cooler. Even in an air-conditioned office, a chair with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) upholstery can increase perspiration and thus reduce comfort. That doesn’t mean upholstery is bad: breathable and natural fabrics can offer similar benefits to mesh.

One popular approach is to offer an upholstered seat pad and a mesh back, what some consider a “best of both worlds” approach. However, high-quality mesh seats with tension adjustment can be equally comfortable. Mesh also offers greater durability. It doesn’t wear like fabric, and spilling your coffee on it won’t ruin its appearance!

Height adjustment: This is almost always pneumatic, which is fast and easy. It’s important that the seat can be raised or lowered to suit your build (more on that below). Tall and short people often struggle with cheaper chairs.

Weight capacity: This is another important element. We would allow a margin of 10% to 20%. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, look at chairs rated to hold at least 200 pounds. This should ensure that the overall structure of the chair has the durability you need.

Armrests: These may or may not be fitted (and they are optional on some ergonomic chairs). Some experts suggest they’re beneficial because they tend to stop you from slumping forward. However, fixed armrests can be worse than not having any. It’s important to check that they’re the right height for you or they’ll feel like they’re getting in the way. Height-adjustable armrests are the optimum solution, though flip-up armrests are a good alternative.

Headrest: This isn’t a common feature, but it is particularly pleasant when you get a few moments to be able to relax and lean back. Make sure the headrest is independently adjustable from the back of the chair and allows you to keep your head in line with your spine. It shouldn’t push your head forward.

EXPERT TIP

Lots of padding might seem very comfortable, but it doesn’t necessarily make for the most ergonomic chair. Under the skin, it must have sufficient adjustability to fit you properly.


Staff  | BestReviews

Ergonomic chair prices

Inexpensive: In our opinion, the very cheapest ergonomic chairs are best avoided. They have neither the build quality nor structural dynamics to live up to expectations. That doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to buy a chair. Popular mesh models start from around $50 (though armrests are likely either absent or fixed).

Mid-range: You’ll find enormous choice in both padded and mesh chairs with wide-ranging adjustability between $100 and $200. Pretty much everyone can find what they need within these parameters.

Expensive: Premium-quality ergonomic chairs are often superbly engineered pieces of furniture that can accommodate all body sizes and shapes. One even has a place in the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). However, this level of design and comfort demands considerable investment. These chairs often cost over $500 and sometimes exceed $1,000.

A five-point base offers the best support and stability and is recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Tips

The following considerations can help you choose an ergonomic chair that fits you properly. It’s a good idea to have someone help you take appropriate measurements (you can use an existing office chair or ordinary dining chair and make adjustments to your measurements as necessary).

  • Sit upright.  In general, the prime position is with around a 90° bend in your joints and an upright torso and head.
  • Sit sit directly facing your monitor. Don’t sit at an angle to it. If you’re using a laptop, get a stand to raise it so you’re looking at the screen straight ahead and not looking downward.
  • Check the seat height. The seat height should allow you to put your feet flat on the floor, not on the chassis or a footrest. Make sure you’re wearing your normal work footwear. Your thighs should be parallel to the ground.
  • Check the seat size. The seat should be wide and deep enough to accommodate you, with a “waterfall” (gently curved) front edge that doesn’t dig into your thighs. The seat should be padded or sprung.
  • Check the armrests.These should not impede you when sitting or rising. They should allow you to rest your arms at between 90° and 100° to your torso.
  • Check the back. When seated normally, the back should come far enough forward to provide lumbar support.
  • Check the headrest. If there is a headrest, it should allow the head to be upright, looking straight forward. It must not tilt the head down.

Work and play

If you’re looking for a high-comfort gaming chair that will double for the home office, this racing model is an excellent choice. Segmented padding provides a high level of passive ergonomic support. There’s pneumatic adjustment for height, control for recline, and flip-up armrests. Available in seven colors to match your décor, it’s fun and functional furniture at a very competitive price.

Other products we considered

The Dragonn Ergonomic Kneeling Chair looks pretty basic, but the design of this type of seating focuses on putting you in the right position to maintain proper posture. It takes a couple of days to get used to, but many people swear by this type of chair. The Space Seating AirGrid Manager’s Chair is typical of a number of high-quality, mid-range models, though the eco-leather seat pad, adjustable arms, and heavy-duty base give it better ergonomic credentials than some competitors. The Herman Miller Embody Chair is a marvel of modern engineering that looks like it might have come off the bridge of the USS Enterprise. It offers unrivaled support and adjustability, plus it comes in 16 color options. It’s backed by a 12-year warranty, which is remarkable — and so is the price!

An ergonomic chair is an important part of the posture equation, but you also need to consider desk height, keyboard and monitor position, and task lighting.

FAQ

Q. What does “ergonomic” mean?
A.
Dictionary definitions vary slightly, but in essence it’s the science of improving the design of products that people need to interact with. The aim is to make items that require less effort to use while increasing comfort, thus leading to greater efficiency and higher productivity.

Q. Can I sit in an ergonomic chair for longer periods of time?
A.
You can, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Experts recommend that to minimize back strain, you should stand and move around for a short period every 30 to 60 minutes. It’s easy to forget, particularly when you’re focused on work. Try setting a timer on your computer or phone to remind you when to take a break.

Q. How long should an ergonomic chair last?
A.
It’s difficult to be accurate because there are so many variables. The quality of the original construction, the size of the occupant, how enthusiastically they move around (does the chair get used for office chair racing, for example). Five to seven years would be a reasonable expectation. Longer than that and wear and tear will probably have a negative impact on the effectiveness of the ergonomics.

EXPERT TIP

Wheels can take a lot of punishment, but if they do break, replacements should be easy to find. Most are simple to attach.


Staff  | BestReviews
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