If you have a desk job, you may feel the strain that sitting for seven or more hours a day can put on a body. “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 and who’s affiliated with NYU Winthrop Hospital, agrees: “If you’re sitting for a long period of time in one position that’s not natural or a bad position from a postural standpoint, over time, that’s going to break down your spine.” Take it from someone who has spent way too much time working from bed (and whose neck, shoulders, and wrists have paid the price): Invest in a good office chair.
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, certain types of office chairs will make it easier for you to maintain a healthy posture while you work, regardless of body type or personal preferences. Below, I’ve gathered a variety of office chairs (and ergonomic chair attachments), that Agulnick, Perna, and nine other doctors say will help you sit up straight and comfortably, while minimizing long-term damage to your body.
What we’re looking for
A good office chair will 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 Dr. 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 to use as possible. Different chairs have different adjustability, including the armrests, seat height and depth, and the angle of the backrest tilt. While everyone could benefit from seat adjustability, if you are shorter or taller than average, seat height and seat depth are especially important factors to look for. For each chair listed below, I’ve noted which elements can be adjusted to fit your particular needs.
The material of the backrest and the seat of a chair will impact how well the chair supports your body and keeps you comfortable. Mesh is ideal if you run hot, since it’s the most breathable, while foam can add an additional layer of cushioning.
To help you choose a chair that offers adequate support, we’ve listed the maximum weight limit of each chair.
Headrest versus no headrest
While a headrest isn’t required, it does help provide additional support to your upper back, neck, and head.
Best overall ergonomic office chair
Adjustability: Adjustable seat height, armrests, seat depth, and tilt | Material: Mesh back, mesh seat | Weight capacity: 300 or 350 pounds | Headrest vs. no headrest: No headrest
Jaffe loves Herman Miller’s Aeron Chair because it has adjustable lumbar support with a tilt that moves with you whether you like to lean back or remain perfectly upright, as well as an adjustable seat and armrests, and three different size options: small, medium, and large that increase in height, seat width and depth to accommodate different body sizes. The small Aeron chair is designed to support up to 300 pounds, while the medium and large can support 350 pounds. The chair’s mesh material provides full-body support and promotes airflow to keep you cool. While Jaffe admits that the price is high, if your budget allows, “it is a great investment in your health and well being.” Perna loves the Aeron chair, calling it “the standard” for ergonomic chairs and adding that many companies have tried to copy its design. (Dubbed the “The Dot Com Throne” by New York Magazine writer Brian Kennedy way back in 2006, it makes an appearance in our expert-recommended guide to everything you need to work from home.) The Aeron chair happens to be the office chair of choice in the New York office that I’ve been sitting on several times a week for the past year and a half. The chair is every bit as comfortable and adjustable as you would imagine. I’ve noticed my recurring shoulder and neck pain doesn’t bother me when I’m sitting in the Aeron, which I attribute to the chair’s back support that encourages a more upright posture. One final tip from Jaffe: “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 (less-expensive) ergonomic office chair
Adjustability: Adjustable seat height, armrests, seat depth, tilt, tilt tension, and lumbar support | Material: Mesh back, foam seat | Weight capacity: 300 pounds | Headrest vs. no headrest: No headrest
Dr. Jasmine Bhoola personally uses this chair from Branch, a direct-to-consumer brand that specializes in products for the office. She says it is “comfortable and completely customizable,” with adjustable armrests, seat height, tilt, tilt tension, seat depth, and lumbar support. The lumbar support, she adds, moves forward and backward and “is removable so people with a range of body types or conditions can use this chair.” The chair’s high-density foam seat cushion is comfortable, and the backrest is made of double-layered mesh, making it supportive yet breathable. It lacks a headrest, but that gives the chair a sleeker profile. Those who pay a lot of attention to aesthetics will appreciate that they can choose from two colors (black or white) for the chair’s frame, and three (black, gray, or light blue) for the cushion.
Best budget-conscious ergonomic office chair
Adjustability: Adjustable seat height, armrests, and tilt | Material: Mesh back, foam seat | Weight capacity: 331 pounds | Headrest vs. no headrest: No headrest
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. However, Gehrman suggests using the money you save on the pricier chairs above to invest 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.”
Best affordable ergonomic office chair with headrest
Adjustability: Adjustable seat height, armrests, seat depth, tilt, lumbar support, headrest | Material: Mesh back, foam seat | Weight capacity: 280 pounds | Headrest vs. no headrest: Headrest
According to Bhoola, “Prolonged sitting has been associated with musculoskeletal dysfunction, especially during COVID-19 work-from-home culture.” One reason she likes this office chair is for its “completely customizable headrest” that can help better support your upper back, neck, and head. Bhoola likes the chair’s “adjustable armrests, as well as its solid lumbar support, which maintains the curve in the lower back and promotes effortless upper-back posture.” When adjusting your office chair, she has these tips: “First, stand in front of the chair and adjust the height so that the highest point of the seat is below the knee cap.” Then she suggests adjusting the angle and height of the chair’s backrest, so that it supports the hollow in the lower back. Finally, “adjust the seat pan tilt to a comfortable position.” She notes that the seat of the chair should be seven inches below the work surface.
Best self-adjusting ergonomic office chair
Adjustability: Adjustable seat height, armrests, seat depth, tilt, and lumbar support | Material: Foam back, foam seat | Weight capacity: 300 pounds | Headrest vs. no headrest: Headrest
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. The brand’s Freedom office chair uses what’s called a “self-adjusting recline,” allowing you to change the chair’s angle simply by leaning back rather than by fussing with a separate lever.
Best foldable ergonomic office chair
Adjustability: N/A | Material: Mesh back, foam seat | Weight capacity: 220 pounds | Headrest vs. no headrest: No headrest
If you are dealing with a very tiny space, your options for ergonomic seating are a lot more limited. According to Jaffe, “It is hard to create a chair with all the bells and whistles — think adjustable armrests, adjustable height, a swivel option, good lumbar support — that folds up.” But if you have to compromise on adjustability in the name of saving space, she recommends this foldable option from In Stock Chairs, which does not have adjustable armrests or an adjustable seat height, but does offer “some lumbar support.” Ultimately, she says, it is still a lot more ergonomic than working from a couch or bed, “which makes a chiropractor cringe.”
Best colorful office chair
Adjustability: Adjustable seat height, armrest, tilt, lumbar support, and headrest | Material: Mesh back, foam seat | Weight capacity: 300 pounds | Headrest vs. no headrest: Headrest
Jaffe likes this ErgoChair because it checks a lot of boxes: It has headrest and good adjustability, a breathable mesh back with flexible, full-body support, and a smooth tilt-tension mechanism with five lockable positions that allow you to lean further back and stretch your spine and shoulders. It comes in several bright colors, including lime green and baby blue, that you can match to your office décor.
Best ergonomic office chair for movement
Adjustability: Adjustable seat height | Material: Foam back, foam seat | Weight: 250 pounds | Headrest vs. no headrest: No headrest
Strategist contributor Natalie So spent ten years sitting uncomfortably in a variety of office chairs before a Pilates teacher told her about the Pipersong Meditation Chair. What sets the chair apart is an extra-low platform that “swivels 360 degrees around the seat, allowing its sitter to position their legs (mostly!) however they want,” she explains. Ideal for anyone who’s constantly changing positions while working, the brand states the chair allows for nine different positions. “I find myself constantly changing positions in the Pipersong, sometimes every few minutes — and that feels far more natural and intuitive to me,” notes So. “When I sit in it, I feel as though I’m doing something good for my body without exerting much effort.” In addition to the tan color shown above, the chair is also available in black, gray, and ivory.
Best vegan-leather ergonomic office chair
Adjustability: Adjustable seat height and armrests | Material: Vegan leather | Weight capacity: 275 pounds | Headrest vs. no headrest: No headrest
Dr. Jason Wersland, the founder and chief wellness officer of Theragun, loves this “one of a kind” chair that he says “decompresses the lumbar curve and gently lifts your thoracic spine for instant posture improvement.” He finds that it relieves “crucial pressure points throughout your back, neck, and shoulders — no matter how long you sit.” The chair’s unique design incorporates something that ALL33 calls Sit-in-Motion technology, which refers to how the bowl of the seat cradles your pelvis and lower back. It’s made to move and rock with you, stimulating circulation and decreasing discomfort. This chair has 360-degree swivel arms that can fold away, allowing you to scoot closer to your computer and reduce eye strain, no matter what type of desk or table you’re working at.
[Editor’s note: This chair is currently out of stock, but you can sign up for notifications on the product page to receive an email once it’s back in stock.]
Best ergonomic balance-ball chair
Adjustability: N/A | Material: Plastic | Weight capacity: 300 pounds | Headrest vs. no headrest: No headrest
“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. Jaffe and Gehrman love this one from Gaiam, which comes with an illustrated guide full of stretching and strength moves you can do at your desk. Once I started testing it, I found that while it took some time to get comfortable, once I got used to it, I didn’t even want to switch back to my regular office chair. While ball chairs don’t have much back support, meaning you’ll have to be mindful of slouching, they encourage proper positioning by “engaging your trunk muscle and thus increase core strength, improve posture, and engage muscles that are normally not engaged when sitting in a traditional chair,” explains Wersland. Jaffe agrees, adding that ball chairs not only “promote good posture while engaging the core,” but the exercise ball can be removed from its base, so you can use it for workouts. While the Gaiam is designed for users between five and six feet tall and fits most standard-height desks, the base is not adjustable, so I did need to raise my laptop to keep my arms and wrists positioned properly over my keyboard. However, having to adjust my desk setup to accommodate the ball chair was absolutely worth it, since I felt energized and free of back pain all day.
Best (less expensive) ergonomic balance-ball chair
Adjustability: N/A | Material: Plastic | Weight capacity: 600 pounds | Headrest vs. no headrest: No headrest
“In general, I recommend a variety of sitting options, as opposed to a singular chair solution,” says Dr. Andrew Veech. “If someone is sitting for hours on end, changing up the positioning proves most helpful,” which is why he recommends simply sitting on this anti-slip exercise ball — that comes in ten different colors — in addition to an ergonomic office or kneeling chair.
Best balance-ball accessory
Adjustability: N/A | Material: Plastic | Weight capacity: 300 pounds | Headrest vs. no headrest: No headrest
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 a significantly less risk of falling. It makes it easy to switch between sitting on a ball and a regular chair.
Best ergonomic kneeling chair
Adjustability: Adjustable height | Material: Metal frame | Weight capacity: 250 pounds | Headrest vs. no headrest: No headrest
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 lengthen your hip flexors (which can get tight while sitting), take some pressure off your glute and hamstring muscles, and promote a more neutral lumbar spine. But he cautions to use kneeling chairs intermittently since they do put some pressure on your knees — ideally, you should alternate between a kneeling chair, a regular chair, and standing throughout the work day, Gehrman says.
Best ergonomic stool
Adjustability: Adjustable seat height | Material: Foam seat | Weight capacity: 270 pounds | Headrest vs. no headrest: No headrest
Another affordable — 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 makes it easy to go from sitting to standing,” she explains, and is easier to move or stow away (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, 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. As with the balance ball chair, you should be cautious not to slouch while sitting on it since that defeats the purpose of improving your posture.
Best ergonomic desk chair for kids
Adjustability: Adjustable seat height, seat depth, backrest, and swivel | Material: Foam back, foam seat | Weight capacity: Unknown | Headrest vs. no headrest: No headrest
If you’re looking for an ergonomic chair to complete your child’s homework setup, California-based chiropractor Dr. Brook Sheehan recommends this affordable chair, because its seat and backrest can be adjusted between 21 and 32 inches to accommodate your child’s height. Sheehan likes that the chair has a locking base that allows it to swivel 15 degrees to the left and right when engaged. “The locking mechanism stops the chair from swiveling too much, keeping the child in a proper, stable position but allowing for an easy exit should they need to stand up,” she explains.
Best ergonomic balance-ball chair for kids
Adjustability: N/A | Material: Plastic | Weight capacity: 175 pounds | Headrest vs. no headrest: No headrest
Like adults, kids can benefit from a balance-ball chair, says Caitlin Meister, founder of private educational-consulting practice the Greer Meister Group, recommending this model from Gaiam. The balance-ball chair improves posture and requires kids to actively balance, so they are more physically engaged than they would be in a regular seat, which helps reduce fidgeting and restlessness and increases focus.
Best ergonomic desk chair for teens
Adjustability: Adjustable seat height, lumbar support, and armrests | Material: Foam back, foam seat | Weight capacity: 250 pounds | Headrest vs. no headrest: Headrest
For older kids, Sheehan recommends this gaming chair. “Geared toward an audience with more developed spinal structures, it helps to maintain the spinal curves that are present,” she says, adding that, over time, it can even help correct bad posture. This high-back chair has adjustable lumbar support, a headrest pillow, armrests, a seat with an adjustable height that tilts, and a footrest that pulls out from under the seat.
Best ergonomic accessory for office chairs
Adjustability: N/A | Material: Foam | Weight capacity: Unknown | Headrest vs. no headrest: No headrest
Even if you’ve found the ideal ergonomic office chair, our experts told us that adding a few accessories to your setup can make it even more comfortable. Chiropractor Dr. Jan Lefkowitz of Body in Balance Chiropractic explains that a footrest can “improve circulation by taking pressure off the veins in the back of your thigh where a chair compresses your legs.” Footrests encourage better body positioning while sitting at your desk. “Because the footrest is static, this will force you to sit back against a desk chair in proper posture,” explains Dr. Daniel Huang, a chiropractic-sports physician at Level Up Sports Chiropractic. Both Huang and chiropractor Dr. Cariann Paul love this memory-foam footrest. It’s available in two different heights: 3.9 inches and 5.5 inches.
• Dr. Marc Agulnick, orthopedic surgeon
• Dr. Scott Bautch, chiropractor and president of the American Chiropractic Association’s Council on Occupational Health
• Dr. Jasmine Bhoola, chiropractor
• Dr. Rudy Gehrman, chiropractor and founder of wellness center Physio Logic
• Dr. Daniel Huang, chiropractic-sports physician at Level Up Sports Chiropractic
• Dr. Randi Jaffe, chiropractor
• Dr. Adam Lamb, chiropractor and founder of Lamb Chiropractic
• Dr. Jan Lefkowitz, chiropractor at Body in Balance Chiropractic
• Caitlin Meister, founder of private educational-consulting practice Greer Meister Group
• Dr. David Perna, chiropractor
• Dr. Brook Sheehan, chiropractor
• Natalie So, Strategist contributor
• Dr. Jason Wersland, chiropractor and founder of Theragun
Additional reporting by Maxine Builder
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