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Ergonomics & Aging
An appropriate chair for computer and desk work must adjust to fit the user. One chair will not accommodate all body types. Suitable chairs for office work range from $200 - $800, depending upon materials used and the warranty. The chairs suggested in the Products section of this website have been chosen due to their adjustability, size, warranty and price.
For optimal support, the back(rest) should tilt back and forth to match body movements and move up and down to fit different lumbar spine shapes. In addition, the back and seat should adjust separately. Dr. Marvin Dainoff, director of Miami Universitys Center for Ergonomic Research states, "...it is crucial to have a chair that allows independent adjustment of the backrest and seat pan angles." In some chairs, the seat pan slides in and out, allowing for more or less support of the leg.
The back design is the deciding factor. You should feel adequate support in the lumbar spine and not experience any aches in the back or neck after the chair is adjusted correctly (see below) and healthy work habits are practiced.
Different types of work require different types of backrests and/or seat angle. Individuals who do not perform keyboard activities are more likely to require a straight-backed chair than computer users who work with arms or hands extended. These tasks require a backrest that conforms slightly to the small of the back.
For total comfort, some chairs provide a "rocking" feature.
Arm rests are an option on all chairs and are an additional cost. Note: When used incorrectly, arm rests will contribute to upper back tension and shoulder problems. They should be used only when necessary when not typing, writing or pipetting.
Headrests are not necessary since you should be moving your body regularly; however, in some cases cervical support is recommended. Special chairs have this feature.
An adjustable lumbar roll is a standard feature on Office Master chairs.
Refer to the manufacturers instructions on where controls are located for your particular chair.
After achieving the proper fit, pull the chair up to your worksurface to see what changes need to be made to allow you to work in this ideal seated posture. For example, check the placement of your computer monitor and keyboard/mouse. A monitor that is too far away causes you to lean forward or extend your neck, and a keyboard/mouse that is too high or far away requires harmful elbow extension that pulls your shoulders and head forward. Use our Workstation Design guidelines to help you decide what needs to be changed.
Seat adjustments may vary throughout the day depending on your current activity. The images below illustrate sitting positions for three different activities. Note that the use of armrests is appropriate for a relaxed position, but not for active keyboarding.
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