Ergonomic Chair Basics
July 15, 2010 12:48 PM   Subscribe

I have been given a budget of $500 to select a new office chair. I don't know what to look for and could use some help!

I spend anywhere from 9-11 hours a day at work, in front of the computer. Lately I have been experiencing hip and upper back pain, the most likely culprits being poor sitting posture and a very old office and decidedly not in any way ergonomic chair. I have been given a budget of $500 to order a new chair, but don't how to go about making a decision.
  • What makes a good chair? I need something that will force me to sit up straight while being comfortable for long periods of time.
  • Are there any brands I should focus on or stay away from?
  • I will be having the chair shipped to me, which means I will have to do any adjusting/fine-tuning myself.
If it matters, I am about 5'5" and of average weight. I appreciate any help/guidance/personal experiences you can offer!
posted by en el aire to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'd go for a resale Herman Miller Aeron chair. I love mine and it's super adjustable for comfort.
posted by cecic at 1:12 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ergonomic chairs get very expensive very fast. I looooove my boss's Humanscale Freedom (and my Steelcase Think to a slightly lesser degree), but it's above your budget. I would have trouble shelling out that kind of cash. Check out an ergonomics-focused reseller like this one, maybe?

Office Depot and the like try to copy the big boys, but the result is usually less comfortable and much less durable. I would recommend against a knockoff, but used is completely viable. Any big corporations near you go bankrupt recently?
posted by supercres at 1:21 PM on July 15, 2010

It's a little extreme, but if you want something that absolutely forces you to sit up straight, kneeler-type chairs are awesome, if tiring. You will have back muscles of steel after a month.
posted by supercres at 1:24 PM on July 15, 2010

Herman Miller's Mirra is supposed to be the dumb-down and cheaper version of the Aeron (apparently no one really knows what to do with all those knobs and levers). The one I'm sitting in now I found in the trash outside of a dentist's office and love it.
posted by soma lkzx at 1:25 PM on July 15, 2010

Seconding the Aeron resale. You can typically find them on Craigslist for a decent price, and they have a 12-year warranty. They're insanely comfortable and customizable, and they're mesh, so they're very cool.
posted by disillusioned at 1:25 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

An office chair is not something I would buy online, unless I'd already sat on several chairs in a showroom and knew exactly the make, model and upholstery I wanted. There are as many shapes and sizes of chairs as there are shapes and sizes of people. Do you want fabric? Leather? Mesh? Firm seat? Pillow-soft seat? Arms? What kind? Adjustable height arms? Adjustable width arms? Do you need just seat height adjustment? What about seat depth? Tilt? Center-tilt or knee tilt? Waterfall seat? Adjustable back? Lumbar support? Adjustable back pitch? Adjustable back height? Is it a task chair? Managerial? All-day seating?

There is far more to picking the right chair for the job than selecting one that looks nice from a catalog. There is a big difference between a $79 Office Depot special and a $1,799 all-day chair. I would suggest visiting your local office furniture dealer and trying several models to see what's right for you. If they don't have at least a few higher-end $700+ chairs in stock, you're not at an office furniture dealer, you're at Staples.

$500.00 should easily cover a nice, new, ergonomic task chair. Part of my business is selling office furniture. I'm not gonna tell you to buy from me, or automatically suggest a certain brand or model out of hand. But I really would like you to visit your local office furniture dealer, wherever that may be, and try several chairs for fit and function. As our jobs become more and more desk-oriented, choosing office furniture that fits you properly plays a much bigger role in staying healthy and injury-free.
posted by xedrik at 1:38 PM on July 15, 2010

Aeron resale. I can sit in mine all day in perfect comfort. I can't sit in perfect comfort for even five minutes in anything else.
posted by HotToddy at 2:31 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

nthing an Aeron. Mine came up for sale when Weiden and Kennedy ad agency moved to new digs and refurnished. Years of comfort left in it.
posted by Cranberry at 2:40 PM on July 15, 2010

I have this type of Herman Miller Caper chair.

(There's different types, mine has wheels and armrests, and a seat made of some sort of cushion and fabric, instead of just plastic.) I have back problems and I also spend a lot of time sitting in front of my computer, and I really like my chair. My husband had an Aeron at work and whenever I sat on it, it felt too big for me (I'm also around 5'5" and have regular weight, if it matters). So, if you can, maybe try some chairs out before settling for one.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 4:51 PM on July 15, 2010

Do yourself a favor and go visit a high-end office furniture store. I go about every five years and get a new office chair. I'm a big fan of the highly adjustable workstation or executive type chair. Not that you'll be adjusting it all the time, but that you'll be able to adjust it in many different ways to eventually hit upon just the RIGHT settings. I've got a Global 9520 Experience model and it's been terrific. I've had others from Global over the years and have been very happy with them. I've had an Aeron and utterly despise them. But everyone's different, thus my suggestion to go and sit yourself down in a few REALLY nice ones first.
posted by wkearney99 at 8:53 PM on July 15, 2010

no matter how good your chair is, sitting all day is bad for you. i suggest a $680 ergotron workfit sit/stand workstation and a $25 high quality slow deflate properly sized stability ball.
posted by paradroid at 10:23 PM on July 15, 2010

The most important thing is trying out the chair yourself (everyone's different).

I sit on an Aeron, but if I was in the U.S. I'd be trying out a bungee chair, to see if it takes out the sting of sitting for long.
posted by mirileh at 6:08 AM on July 16, 2010

About six years ago, I realized I was spending more time at my desk than I was in bed. I had splurged on a good mattress, so a really good chair seemed like a worthwhile investment. I bought a Herman Miller Aeron. If I remember correctly, it's a little like a car -- you can opt out of several features, which of course brings the price down. A little.

My life has changed since then and I'm happily in front of the computer much less, but I still love love love my chair. It was expensive but absolutely worth it.

Things to look for in any desk chair: adjustable seat height (your thighs should be parallel to the ground and your feet, preferably, flat on the floor); some kind of lumbar support (the Aeron has a sliding bar that adjusts for height and tension); adjustable arm rests (you want your shoulders relaxed, upper arms at a right angle to forearms and wrists straight).
posted by Paris Elk at 11:15 AM on July 16, 2010

« Older All I know is Go Fish and Kings.   |   North American Scum -- but maybe without the scum... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.