When you have to sit at a desk all day, you rapidly figure out just how important having the right chair is. The wrong chair makes itself painfully evident — with literal pain! Your lower back, the backs of your knees, or even your neck may start to hurt every day as you come home from work, and you might not understand why because the pain doesn’t start until you get out of your chair. Wonder no longer — if you get the best chair for sitting at a desk all day, you’ll get a good evening’s rest and a good night’s sleep out of the deal as well.
So What is this Best Chair for Back Pain?
Well, to be honest, there isn’t a single “best chair” for everyone because of extrinsic elements like price, appearance, and the potential for unique needs caused by conditions like osteoporosis or kyphosis. But there are qualities that any “best chair” for your needs will share. First, it will need to fit your body — your height, weight, and general shape. Second, it will need to be able to move with you as you move — which is much harder to find.
Fitting Your Body
To be frank, most office chairs will fit most bodies, simply because almost every office chair on the market is adjustable in a variety of ways. At the minimum, even a decade-old used office chair these days will have the ability for you to raise and lower the seat pan, to raise and lower the seat back, to adjust the armrests (if any) up down down, and to tilt either the seat as a whole or just the seat pan backwards and forwards.
All of these adjustments are important, because you do need your chair’s ‘default’ position to be appropriate for your desk if you’re going to be sitting at it all day. That default needs to be a position where, when your feet are flat on the floor and your wrists are on your keyboard’s wrist rest, your forearms and thigh bones are parallel to each other and to the floor. Almost any office chair can get you there, and once you’re there, you’re halfway to the goal.
Move When You Move
The other half, however, is more expensive and much rarer. In short, when you lean back or forward, the chair needs to adjust with you. The lumbar support curve should always be snug to your lumbar region unless you’re getting out of the chair. The seat pan should always be in contact with almost the entire length of your thighs.
This means that when you lean back, the back of the chair leans back with you — and the seat pan either tilts forward (if you’re sticking your legs out and stretching) or backward (if you’re lifting your legs up and pulling them into an Indian-style position or something similar. When you lean forward, the seat pan should tilt forward (if you’re reaching for something or about to get out of your chair), or tilt backward (if you’re lunging forward, pulling your legs up because you don’t want to fall out of your chair).
As you can imagine, this is a lot of different mechanical actions for a chair to take into account — but with a clever new system called Dynamic Counterbalancing, it can be done. It’s not always cheap, but there are some surprisingly affordable chairs that have dynamic counterbalancing as a standard feature. If you need the best chair for sitting at a desk all day, find one that has it, and you’ve gone a long way toward that goal.