Stuck with an uncomfortable chair at work or at home? Not all is lost. Short of ejecting the chair out the window, there are in fact a few things you can do to dramatically improve your comfort level, and fast.
Here are 5 actionable tips to turn any uncomfortable chair into one that is a lot more ergonomic and comfortable to sit in.
Make Sure Your Chair is Set to the Proper Height
The proper height for your office chair is where your two feet are flat on the floor, with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. At this position your knees should be level or slightly below your hips.
Don’t underestimate the negative effects of an improperly positioned office chair.
When the chair is too high, your feet will dangle off the floor, leading to numbness, discomfort, and poor circulation in the back of the thighs.
When your chair is too low, increased pressure is applied to your back as your hip joints flex to keep the knees above the hips. This can lead to back pain, according to VeryWellHealth.
Use the table below to easily find the ideal chair seat height based on your height (in feet or cm). The seat height is measured from the floor to the top of the seat cushions:
Proper Office Chair Height Table
|Your Height (feet)||Ideal Chair Height (inches)||Your Height (cm)||Ideal Chair Height (cm)|
|4’11”||15.9 inches||149 cm||40.2 cm|
|5’0″||16.2 inches||151.5 cm||40.9 cm|
|5’1″||16.4 inches||154 cm||41.5 cm|
|5’2″||16.7 inches||156.5 cm||42.2 cm|
|5’3″||17 inches||159 cm||42.9 cm|
|5’4″||17.2 inches||161.5 cm||43.6 cm|
|5’5″||17.5 inches||164 cm||44.2 cm|
|5’6″||17.8 inches||166.5 cm||44.9 cm|
|5’7″||18 inches||169 cm||45.6 cm|
|5’8″||18.3 inches||171.5 cm||46.3 cm|
|5’9″||18.6 inches||174 cm||46.9 cm|
|5’10”||18.9 inches||176.5 cm||47.6 cm|
|5’11”||19.1 inches||179 cm||48.3 cm|
|6’0″||19.4 inches||181.5 cm||49 cm|
|6’1″||19.7 inches||184 cm||49.6 cm|
|6’2″||19.9 inches||186.5 cm||50.3 cm|
|6’3″||20.2 inches||189 cm||51 cm|
|6’4″||20.5 inches||191.5 cm||51.7 cm|
|6’5″||20.7 inches||194 cm||52.3 cm|
|6’6″||21 inches||196.5 cm||53 cm|
|6’7″||21.3 inches||199 cm||53.7 cm|
|6’8″||21.6 inches||201.5 cm||54.4 cm|
|6’9″||21.8 inches||204 cm||55 cm|
|6’10”||22.1 inches||206.5 cm||55.7 cm|
|6’11”||22.4 inches||209 cm||56.4 cm|
|7’0″||22.6 inches||211.5 cm||57.1 cm|
|7’1″||22.9 inches||214 cm||57.7 cm|
|7’2″||23.2 inches||216.5 cm||58.4 cm|
Understand and Experiment with the Settings on Your Chair
A funny story to kick off the next tip: My dad didn’t realize for two years his office chair can actually recline. He’s one of those people that hated tinkering with anything out of fear he would break it. Meanwhile his back suffered as a result.
With all the knobs and levers that come with many modern office chairs, make sure you actually try everything out to find the most comfortable combination. It can take many days to find the perfect settings.
For example, a simple tweak of reclining your chair back by a few degrees from upright as you sit can dramatically decrease the pressure on your spine:
Get an External Lumbar Pillow
If your chair feels uncomfortable but you can’t quite put your finger on why, there’s a good chance the lumbar support is part of the culprit. Lower end office chairs either lack a lumbar support altogether, or is fixed, forcing you to maintain a particular position to get the right lower back support. It’s no wonder many of us feel back pain at the end of the day.
The solution? Just get an external lumbar pillow. They are portable, inexpensive, and do wonders to upgrade an uncomfortable office chair into a higher end ergonomic chair.
In fact, studies have shown that office chairs equip with external lumbar pillows effectively increased comfort for people suffering from lower back pain. Look for ones with a cut out at the bottom for best results.
Add a Seat Cushion
Another frequent source of discomfort in office chairs is the seat. It can either be too firm, too thin without enough padding, or simply lack the proper contours to distribute your body weight evenly.
Luckily like with lumbar support, this can usually be remedied by getting an external seat cushion.
Many external seat cushions feature a raised center and cut out at the back, such as those from Everlasting or ComfiLife. These features can help stabilize your pelvis and relieve pressure in the coccyx area as you sit. For people suffering from sciatica, hip pain, herniated discs etc, such a seat cushion can beat even the most ergonomic seat in terms of comfort.
Use Armrest Pads
Finally, try giving the armrests on your office chair a makeover if they are uncomfortable. On cheaper chairs, the armrests are usually made of plastic or are too short to support your entire forearms properly.
Our arms (including the hands) comprise of roughly 10% of the body’s weight. Having that weight unsupported or resting on a hard surface can definitely add to your discomfort.
There are many types of armrest pads on the market. Most simply cover over the existing armrests to either make them more plush or elongated to support your entire forearms in different positions.
A good armrest pad can instantly turn uncomfortable armrests on your office chair to those found on more premium executive chairs.