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 natural, or a bad position from a postural standpoint, over time that’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 nine 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 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 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, we know, 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 those of the Aeron, namely 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.”
Best affordable ergonomic office chair with a headrest
According to Dr. Jasmine 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 also 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 kneecap.” Then she suggests adjusting the angle and height of the chair’s backrest so that it supports the hollow in the lower back. Finally, she says to “adjust the seat-pan tilt to a comfortable position,” adding that the seat of the chair should be seven inches below whatever surface you’re working at.
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,” allowing you to change the chair’s angle simply by leaning back rather than by 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 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 taller people
“This chair is designed for those with bigger builds and taller heights and can accommodate up to 500 pounds,” says Dr. Manasseh Nwaigwe. He likes that the chair contains memory foam designated to support a user’s lower back, as well as an elevated headrest that can support the neck and upper back. But Nwaigwe notes that even though “the right ergonomic office chair may help to alleviate pain as you sit throughout the day,” you should also take a few minutes every day to perform easy exercises. “Exercises like chin tucks — ten reps, three times a day — help you maintain good posture throughout your cervical spine.”
Best ergonomic gaming (and office) chair
In talking to even more experts about the best desk chairs for kids, our writer Lauren Ro discovered this gaming chair that chiropractor Dr. Brook Sheehan told her is also quite ergonomic. She suggested it for teens or tweens looking for an ergonomic desk chair they could use into adulthood, explaining that the chair’s design “helps to maintain the spinal curves that are present” and adding that “over time, it can help correct bad postural habits set early on.” The chair features adjustable lumbar support, a seat with an adjustable height that also tilts, a headrest pillow, armrests, and a footrest that pulls out from underneath the seat. “It provides the support necessary for all three regions that make up the spinal column,” according to Sheehan.
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 Amazon that Bhoola recommends, allows you to lean back whenever you feel like you need to do one of those stretches. This chair also offers seat-height adjustment, lumbar support, and an adjustable armrest and headrest. And in addition to stretching in your chair, Jaffe 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
Jaffe likes 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.