- Avoid injury and strain
- Activate your internal systems, like your core and glute muscles, and your diaphragm, and your spine-spinal cord-nervous system
- Feel confident and engaged
But also, in addition to sitting with good posture, it’s good to move around and mix it up whenever you can. “Good” posture for eight straight hours isn’t good anymore. Take it from Galen Cranz, a Professor Emerita of Architecture at UC Berkeley. She wrote a book in 1998 that challenged The Chair (The Chair: Rethinking Culture, Body, and Design), and challenged the culture it sits on and that sits on it. As she explained in this interview with Portland Spaces, our bodies need variety. We need lounge positions, squat positions, kneeling positions. We need workspaces that invite and encourage this kind of progressive approach to work, where it’s ok to “lay down on the job.”
- Encourages good posture while you sit in it
- You love
- Looks good in your space
- Fits into a broader seating plan
Is a back support important on an office chair?
Yes, with caveats. “Back support” sometimes causes you to rely too much on the support, not enough on your own capabilities. It might actually be better to start with a backless seat. I.E. a stool. On the high end, this Artek Alvar Aalto four-legged stool is cool.
If you get a backed chair, make sure you can keep that S-shape spine when you sit all the way in it. If you need to refresh your muscle memory, try sitting on the front edge for a spot.
For extra back support, here’s a roundup of lumbar support pillows that can help you to keep that core engaged and avoid a C-shape spine.
Is a hard or soft chair ergonomically better for desk jobs?
Hard-ish. A firm chair provides better support. A soft chair lets you sink too easily into a crumpled, unengaged posture, also causing you to tense your muscles more as you try to stay erect. Check out this article by SecretLab, a chair company started by two gamers who saw a need for better gaming chairs. Rounds and rounds of R&D have led them to produce adjustable, medium-firm chairs that can stand up to long hours of gaming. Like this Secretlab OMEGA.
What about “gimmicky” chairs?
Ergonomic chairs are fine tuned to keep your body in a healthy, safe position. A good ergonomic chair is adjustable, allowing you to customize to your physical build. It’s cushioned, but not too soft, and it has a stable base.
For an ergonomic dream chair, check out this Capisco Chair by designer Peter Opsvik, or his updated version, the Capisco Puls Chair. Opsvik was originally inspired by a horseback rider’s posture when first designing the chair. But he didn’t stop there. Opsvik, like Cranz, believes that “good posture” means regularly changing your position and posture. You can hear him talk about it in this two minute video, which begins with him playing saxophone! Anyway, the Capisco lets you sit facing forward, to the side, to the back, high, low, any which way you want to go, basically. A really good ergonomic chair should adapt, allowing you to sit in a variety of ways.
If you’re on a tighter budget and a Capisco Chair isn’t on the table, you can find a nifty ergo-setup checklist by ViewSonice here.
A tailored, ergonomic chair can have all sorts of good downstream effects: increased productivity, better physical health, better mood, lower health costs. In a nutshell, a good one can make work and life a lot more enjoyable.
This chair doesn’t have levers and knobs. Instead it has “Auto-Harmonic Tilt” that responds to your particular structure. It provides continuous support for spine support, is breathable, and has a thin, flexible frame. It comes in low, mid and high back versions!
- Make sure your seat-of-choice is a good size and good fit for you.
- Make sure it’s at a good height relative to your desk.
- Keep your spine in it’s natural S-shape and work that core! Mix it up.