The Goldilocks Method for Choosing the Perfect Ergonomic Chair

Chairs around a table in an office

“She thought she would sit down and rest until they came, so first she sat down in the GREAT BIG CHAIR, but the cushion was too soft. It seemed as though it would swallow her up. Then she sat down in the middle-sized chair, and the cushion was too hard, and it was not comfortable. Then she sat down in the dear little chair, and it was just right and fitted her as though it had been made for her.”

–Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Mother’s Nursery Tales

Here are some basic recommendations (in true Goldilocks fashion) to help you choose the right office chair and adjust it to perfection.

And remember, an ergonomic chair is the one that adapts to the dimensions and the needs of its user!

 

Vector of an office chair
This chair needs 2 more legs. Keep reading to know why.

If the seat is too high…

A) Your feet will dangle, unsupported, and the edge of the seat will pressure the back of your knees and thighs, preventing regular blood flow.

B) Or, you might be forced to move forward in the chair until your feet actually touch the ground. This will make it difficult for your spine to maintain its natural S-curvature since your back will be unsupported, which may lead to irregular blood flood, fatigue, numbness and general pain.

Possible solutions: Lower your seat until your legs are bent at a 90-degree angle. If that’s not possible, use a footrest. Also, the seat edge should have a waterfall shape (rounded) to minimize pressure on the thighs.

If the seat is too low…

Your legs will extend forward in an unstable position. Your back will tend to flatten and reduce the natural S-shape of your spine.

Possible solutions: Adjust your chair’s height to make it higher.

If the seat’s depth is excessive…

It will pressure the back of your knees, hindering regular blood flow.

If the seat’s depth is limited…

The back of your thighs won’t be properly supported and your position will lack balance.

If the armrests are too high or too low…

It will cause your shoulders to hunch up (too high) or be unsupported (too low). This may cause pain and muscle fatigue on your neck and shoulders area.

💡Remember!

Armrests are not always necessary. It varies depending on your work and the tasks you need to accomplish.

If the backrest doesn’t provide enough back support…

It won’t help maintain the natural S-curvature of your spine, which may lead to inappropriate postures and back pain and fatigue.

Possible solutions: adjust your backrest’s size, tilt and positioning until it properly support’s your back. Use a cushion for extra-padding when necessary.

If the chair has four or fewer legs…

It may be unstable and prone to tipping.

Possible solutions: Use a chair with 5 sturdy legs. Casters are usually a good idea since they will facilitate the chair’s movement along the floor and may reduce the risk of muscle strain and fatigue.

Conclusion

  • The chair should have a stable five-leg base with casters.
  • The backrest should accommodate the natural S-curvature of your back and provide appropriate lumbar support.Your feet should be able to rest flat on the floor with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Your forearms, wrists, and hands should remain in a straight line, with relaxed shoulders and elbows close to the body. Armrests are not always necessary.
  • All the surfaces in contact with your body should be soft and padded. Rounded corners are advised for seat and armrests.

Source

Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Computer Workstations eTool. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/computerworkstations/components_chair.html

IOC. Prevenció de riscos professionals: C05 – Prevenció de riscos derivats de l’organització i la càrrega de treball. Retrieved from https://ioc.xtec.cat/educacio/recursos-materials-aprenentatge?id=125

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Last updated on July 14, 2018.