Desk Jockey Survival Guide Ep. 3 – The Most Ergonomic Office Chair
– Hello everyone and welcome to episode three of the Desk Jockey Survival Guide. In today’s episode, we’re gonna be talking about what you should be looking for in an office chair, as well as debunking the myth, the legend, of the so-called ergonomic office chair.
As you know, not all chairs are created equal, and there’s a lot of ergonomic companies out there that are vying for your business, who are claiming that they have the most comfortable and most ergonomic chair on the market.
So I’ll let you guys in on a little secret, there is no such thing as an ergonomic office chair. It’s made up, it’s a unicorn, it’s Bigfoot, it’s like an oxymoron, like skinny cow, or Microsoft works.
So the reason that an ergonomic office chair doesn’t exist is because chairs do nothing to promote any movement whatsoever. Plus, keeping your hips in a 90 degree angle for hours on end is never a good position for humans.
There may not be a perfect chair in existence, but you can choose the lesser evil. So with that said, let’s take a look at what you should be looking for in an office chair. Let’s first talk about your office chair seat.
So the office chair seat should be made of either metal, or wood, and the reason for this is simple, because a chair does nothing to promote movement, sitting on a chair that has minimal to no cushioning is going to remind you to get up and move around more often throughout the day.
This lack of comfort encourages you to get up every about 20 to 30 minutes and do stuff, like just simply standing up, taking a walk around the office, or putting in some mobility work. Now if you find that a wood or a metal seat is too painful for you, you can opt for minimal padding, but you don’t want it to be too cushiony, to the point where you start sinking into your seat.
Ideally, your office chair should mimic a stool but with a wide square seat instead of a round seat. Now this isn’t make or break, depending on how big your ass is, but a square seat allows you to place your ischial tuberosities on the edge of the chair without your butt sliding off, making it easier to maintain an upright braced spine position while seated.
The last thing to think about when it comes to your seat is the height of the seat. So like I mentioned in episode two, you’re gonna wanna distribute your weight about 60/40, so 60% of your weight is going to be on your ischial tuberosities, or your sitz bones, the remaining 40% is going to be distributed on your feet.
This means that both of your feet must be able to firmly touch the floor, and if you can’t touch the floor while sitting in your chair then what’s gonna happen is all of your weight is gonna come down onto your pelvis and you’re gonna end up sitting in that C spine which you should be avoiding at all costs.
The way to determine if the height of your chair is right for you, is pretty simple, all you gotta do is sit down on the edge of your chair and see if you can place your feet flat on the floor, distributing 60/40.
If you can’t, then either adjust the height of your seat. If that’s not an option then it may be time to find a new seat for you. Now let’s talk about arm rests. Now I highly encourage finding an office chair that doesn’t have arm rests and the reason for this is because arm rests in chairs can indirectly cause you to sit in a rounded position, simply because the arm rests can prevent you from sliding the office chair underneath your desk.
This can ultimately position you too far away from your monitor and your keyboard, which will lead to rounding of the back as well as hyperextension of that cervical spine. The takeaway here is that it’s ideal to have a chair that doesn’t have arm rests, but if that’s a feature that you can’t live without, it’s really not a huge deal, just make sure that your chair isn’t stopping you from reaching your keyboard and forcing you into a rounded position.
And finally, we come to back rests. Now back rests are great if you are getting home and you are taking a load off after a long day at the office, but they’re not so great for leaning against while at work.
So while we’re at work, we’re practicing what’s called active sitting, or sitting upright with a braced and neutral spine. So when we sit against a back rest, what’s indirectly happening is our bodies are noticing that extra support and deactivating the tension in our trunk muscles, which are meant to keep our posture from being compromised.
Basically our bodies like to take the path of least resistance in any way they can and leaning against a back rest is one way out. It’s also much easier to notice that your posture has soured if you don’t have a back rest on your seat.
Plus if you do have a back rest, you’re much more likely to wanna sit all the way to the back of the seat, which as we discussed in episode two, you wanna sit on the edge of your chair, that way you don’t bear all the weight onto your glutes and hamstrings.
So to recap, your ideal office chair should have a flat metal or wood seat, should be just high enough to where you can sit on the edge and have your feet flat on the ground, have no arm rests, and no backrests.
So now that we have our criteria, let’s take a look and asses three different chair options. Pop quiz: out of these three chairs, which one would you say is the most ergonomic? Is it option A, option B, option C, or none of the above? The correct answer is D, none of the above.
This was a trick question as there is, again, no such thing as an ergonomic chair. However, if you were to choose one of these three chairs, option A would be the lesser evil because it has a flat, hard seat, and it has no arm rests or back rest.
My point with all this is that there’s no such thing as the perfect ergonomic chair. So choose a chair that will put you in the best position to stay focused but also promote movement throughout your workday.
Your colleagues may think it’s weird that you’re not sitting in a black fancy leather office chair, but you know that a chair isn’t made for sitting, it’s made for reminding you to stand up. That’s it for episode three guys, thanks for watching.
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