Whether you’re working from home at a DIY desk setup, or commuting to an office, you may have begun to feel the strain that sitting for seven or more hours a day can put on a body. If said strain has led you to wonder whether it’s worth investing in a better, more ergonomic office chair, the answer is almost certainly yes, according to experts we spoke to. “Makeshift setups can cause a laundry list of problems, including back, shoulder, and wrist pain,” explains Dr. David Perna of Back and Body Medical. Dr. Marc Agulnick, an orthopedic surgeon based on Long Island who’s affiliated with NYU Winthrop Hospital, agrees: “If you’re sitting for a long period of time in one position that’s not a natural position or a bad position from a postural standpoint, over time, that’s going to cause you to have problems. It’s going to break down your spine.”
Finding the right ergonomic office chair, though, can be tricky — there is no universally perfect model, because every body is different, according to Agulnick. “If you take a one-size-fits-all approach, there are a lot of people who are miserable with it, because what’s comfortable for one person is going to be miserable for another,” he explains, and being comfortable in your office chair is definitely a priority. That said, there are certain types of office chairs that are going to make it easier for you to maintain a healthy posture while you work, regardless of your body type or personal preferences. Below, a variety of office chairs (and ergonomic chair attachments) that Agulnick, Perna, and five other doctors say will help you sit up straight and comfortably, while minimizing long-term damage to your body.
Best overall ergonomic office chair
A good office chair is going to help you maintain a neutral posture, which means sitting with your feet flat on the floor, your knees slightly higher than your hips, and your hips, shoulders, and ears all lined up with each other. “Try to create 90-degree angles at the waist and knees,” recommends chiropractor Randi Jaffe. Since that position will be slightly different for each person, the best way to find a neutral posture is with an adjustable chair — one that’s as intuitive as possible. Jaffe loves Herman Miller’s Aeron Chair because it has adjustable lumbar support, as well as an adjustable seat and armrests, and three different size options. The chair’s mesh material also provides full-body support and adjusts to temperature changes to keep you cool. While she admits that the price is high, if your budget allows, “it is a great investment in your health and well being.” Perna also loves the Aeron chair, calling it “the standard” for ergonomic chairs and adding that many companies have tried to copy its design. (The chair, which New York Magazine writer Brian Kennedy dubbed the “The Dot Com Throne” way back in 2006, also makes an appearance in our expert-recommended guide to everything you need to work from home.) Jaffe’s other tip: “Do not work from the couch or the bed. Have a designated spot for work at home, including a table or desk or countertop, in addition to a good chair.”
Best (slightly) less expensive ergonomic office chair
For a less expensive option (that still isn’t cheap), Perna likes Herman Miller’s Mirra Chair, because it has a mesh back, like the Aeron. “Mesh breathes, it’s dynamic, it kind of bends, and moves with you” throughout the day as you change positions, he says. This chair has other ergonomic features similar to the Aeron’s, too, namely it’s adjustable arms, seat angle, and lumbar support.
Best affordable ergonomic office chair
For a far less expensive alternative, Dr. Rudy Gehrman, the founder of New York City–based wellness center Physio Logic, recommends this chair from Modway, which has supportive mesh as well as the ability to adjust its armrests and seat height. Should you go this route, Gehrman suggests investing the money you would save on the above chairs in an alternative seating option, like an exercise ball or kneeling chair (both of which appear below) because “the more variety you have, the more likely you will decrease the chances of repetitive stress injuries.”
Least fussy ergonomic office chair
Dr. Scott Bautch, a Wisconsin-based chiropractor who’s currently the president of the American Chiropractic Association’s Council on Occupational Health, likes the chairs from Humanscale, a New York City–based company that designs chairs with the “minimum amount of levers and the maximum amount of adaptability for the person sitting in it,” he says. Its Freedom Office Chair uses what’s called a “self-adjusting recline” that allows you to change the chair’s angle simply by leaning back, rather than fussing with a separate lever.
Best ergonomic office chair for shorter people
If you prefer a chair without a headrest, or want a less-expensive option from Humanscale, the Freedom Desk Chair has many of the same features and ergonomic benefits as the Freedom Office Chair above (including a “self-locking recline mechanism” that allows you to can lean back without tipping over). Perna especially likes it for shorter people, because it has an adjustable seat depth, so you can make sure your feet are flat on the floor.
Best ergonomic office chair for stretching in place
Bautch says that if you’re sitting in your chair, slightly hunched over toward your screen, it can be helpful to lean away from your computer and pull your shoulders back like you’re going to put a pencil between them. An office chair with a wider range of motion, like this one from TechniMobili that Jaffe recommends, allows you to lean back whenever you feel like you need to do one of those stretches. (It also has a built-in tilt and lock mechanism to make sure you don’t tip over.) Jaffe also notes that this chair offers seat-height adjustment, lumbar support, and an adjustable armrest and headrest. And in addition to stretching in your chair, she recommends “getting up every hour and walking and moving a little,” or getting on the floor and doing some gentle yoga poses like cat-cow or child’s pose.
Best ergonomic office chair with personality
Another option Jaffe likes is this ErgoChair, which checks a lot of boxes: a headrest and armrests that are adjustable, as well as a breathable mesh back with flexible, full-body support and a tilt-tension mechanism that allows you to stretch your back and shoulders. It also comes in several bright colorways, including lime green and baby blue, that you can match to your office décor.
Best ergonomic balance-ball chair
“I love balls and ball chairs,” says Bautch. “I think they’re one of the most reasonable solutions” to add more motion to your everyday routine. And though it might take some time to get comfortable sitting on a ball chair, once you’re used to it, Bautch says there’s no real reason that you can’t use it as your only office chair. Jaffe agrees, adding ball chairs not only “promote good posture while engaging the core,” but that their balls can also be removed for workouts. While they don’t have built-in lumbar support like the chairs above, they “engage your trunk muscle and thus increases core strength, improves posture, and engages muscles that are normally not engaged when sitting in a traditional chair,” explains Dr. Jason Wersland, the founder and chief wellness officer of Theragun. Jaffe and Gehrman love this one from Gaiam, which comes with an illustrated guide with stretching and strength moves you can do at your desk. But before you add it to your cart, Jaffe cautions that ball chairs, like this one, are typically best for people between five feet and five-eleven due to their design.
Best ergonomic kneeling chair
If you want to try a kneeling chair, Gehrman recommends this one. “The advantage to this style of chair is it puts you in a more upright position,” he explains. A kneeling chair will also lengthen your hip flexors (which get tight while sitting), take some pressure off of your glute and hamstring muscles, and promote a more neutral lumbar spine. But he cautions to use kneeling chairs intermittently — ideally, you should alternate between a kneeling chair, a regular chair, and standing throughout the work day, Gehrman says.
Best ergonomic office stool
Another less expensive — but still ergonomic — alternative to a proper office chair is a stool, which Jaffe says can help improve posture while engaging the core as you sit. “It also makes it easy to go from sitting to standing,” she explains, and would be easier to move or stow away, we might add (a plus if you’re working from home with roommates or working from a small space). She recommends this one because it has an adjustable seat to accommodate lots of different heights. Dr. Adam Lamb of Lamb Chiropractic, a New York City–based practice that offers house calls, also likes stools, saying he personally sits on one at his office because it encourages good posture and allows you to build strength and balance as you answer emails.
Best ergonomic accessories for office chairs
Supporting the lumbar curve in your lower back is key, says Agulnick, because “if the lumbar spine is comfortably supported, it’s going to help people stay in a good posture, and prevent them from slouching over and going into postures that could add a lot more stress.” While all of the traditional office chairs we’ve recommended have solid built-in lumbar support, if you’re craving more, this is a reasonably priced product you can strap onto the back of your chair. Writer Maureen O’Connor told us about it explaining, “it comfortably curves into the lower back near the base of the spine. It’s a gentle nudge to sit up straight and can be strapped onto the chair of your choice — and, most critically, removed whenever you want.” Plus, because you’re adding it to your chair, you can place it so that it fits exactly in the small of your back.
Lamb gives this lumbar support cushion to all of his patients, telling us it’s an easy way to make any seat — whether it’s in your office, car, or home — more comfortable. You can put it on a chair back for lumbar support, sit on it to improve your posture, and even use it as a tool while stretching, he adds.
If you’re ball-chair curious but not ready to fully commit, the lowest-intervention option is a half-ball, like this balance disc from Gaiam — a favorite of Jaffe’s — that you can place on any office chair you might already own or use. It’ll activate your core and give you many of the same health benefits as a more traditional ball chair would, but with significantly less risk of falling. It also makes it easy to switch between sitting on a ball and on a regular chair.
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