If you have to spend many hours sitting at a desk to study or work with the computer, you need a chair that fits your body correctly to avoid back pain and other problems. As doctors, chiropractors, and physical therapists are well aware, many people develop serious spinal ligament sprains and even spinal disc problems as a result of sitting in unsuitable office chairs for several hours. However, adjusting an office chair is simple and only takes a few minutes, as long as you know how to adapt it to your body proportions.
Part 1 of 2: Adjusting an Office Chair
Step 1. Determine the height of your worktable
Set up your workstation at the appropriate height. Ideally, you should work at a table that can be regulated, but few companies have these features. If the table cannot be adjusted, adjust the chair height.
If the surface height is adjustable, stand in front of the chair and place the seat height just below the knee line; next, sit in the chair and adjust the height of the table so that your elbows form a 90° angle when you keep your hands flat on the tabletop
Step 2. Assess the angle of your elbows to the workstation
Sit very close to the table so that your arms are comfortably parallel to your spine. Let your hands rest on the surface of your desk or on the keyboard of the computer you work on. They must be at a 90° angle.
- Sit at the desk, getting as close to it as possible. Look for the lever that controls the height of the seat (usually on the left side of the chair).
- If your hands are higher than your elbows, the seat is too low. Suspend your body and pull the chair lever, which will raise the seat. As soon as he reaches the desired height, release the lever so that he stays in this position.
- If the seat is too high, remain seated and pull the lever. Release it when you have managed to adjust the chair to the desired height.
Step 3. Arrange the position of the feet in relation to the height of the seat
To do this, sit with your soles flat on the floor. In this position, slide your fingers along the space between your lower thighs and the seat - the space between the two should not be wider than your fingers' width.
- If you are a tall person and the space between your thighs and the seat is greater than a finger's width, you will need to elevate both the chair seat and your desk so that you can assume the correct posture.
- If you're having trouble getting your toes between your thigh and the chair, you'll need to raise your feet position until your knees form a 90-degree angle. To do this, use an adjustable footrest.
Step 4. Measure the distance between your calf and the front edge of the seat
Make a fist and try to place it between the chair and the back of your calf. The space between them should be enough to accommodate your wrist (something close to 5 cm). If this is the case, the position of the backrest is correct.
- If space isn't enough to accommodate your wrist, the seat is too far back and you'll have to bring it a little forward. The most ergonomic models of office chairs allow this distance to be adjusted by means of a lever located on the right side of the chair. If, however, the backrest is fixed, use something to support your lower or upper back.
- If the handle fits too loosely between your calves and the edge of the chair, push the chair back. To do this, use a lever located below and to the right of the seat.
- Backrest depth is an essential factor in avoiding bad posture. In addition, the backrest must offer good support to the lower part of the spine, which reduces pressure on the region and prevents spinal injuries.
Step 5. Adjust the height of the backrest
Sit properly in the chair (with the soles of your feet flat on the floor and your calves a fist away from the edge of the chair) and try to keep the backrest at a height that comfortably accommodates your lower back.
- You should feel that your lower back is resting firmly on the backrest.
- There should be a peg bolt in the back of the chair that, when loosened, allows it to go up and down. Since it is easier to move it down while sitting down, loosen the screw and bring the backrest all the way up. Then, sit on the chair and push it down until the base of the back rests against your lower back.
- Not all chairs allow you to adjust the height of the backrest.
Step 6. Set the backrest at the angle that is most comfortable for your back
The ideal angle is one that fully supports your back while you are in your preferred position. You shouldn't be hunched further forward than you'd like or have to lean back to support your back.
- On the back of the chair, there is a screw that holds the angle of the backrest fixed. Loosen the screw and lean back and forth while looking toward the monitor. When you find a position that looks ideal, tighten the screw again.
- Not all chairs allow you to adjust the backrest angle.
Step 7. Adjust the armrests so that they barely touch your elbows when your arms are bent 90° or when your hands are resting on the tabletop or keyboard
When they are too high, the armrests will force you into an uncomfortable position. Your arms should be free to move.
- Resting your arms on the armrests while typing can restrict normal arm movement, which would put extra pressure on the fingers and the structures that support them.
- On some chair models, it is only possible to adjust the height of the armrests with the aid of a screwdriver; others have screws with handles. Check the underside of the rests to see how your chair's mechanism works.
- Adjustable arm rests are not present on all chair models.
- If the armrests are too high and have a fixed height, it is preferable to remove them from the chair to prevent shoulder or finger injuries.
Step 8. Assess the resting eye level
They should be well-aligned with the monitor you use to work. Sitting in the chair, close your eyes and open them slowly. If eye level is right, your vision will frame the center of the screen and the text will be legible without you having to move your neck forward or backward or tilt your head up or down.
- If you need to tilt your eyes down to see the monitor well, place it on an object (a box, for example) to bring it to the ideal height.
- If, on the other hand, you have to tilt your head up to see the screen, you must find a way to lower the monitor until it is directly in front of you.
Part 2 of 2: Choosing the Right Chair
Step 1. Choose a chair that fits your body size
Most models work well for 90% of people, but may not be ideal for those individuals who inhabit both ends of the spectrum. Since the proportions vary from one body to another, office chairs are manufactured with adjustable elements, which makes them capable of meeting the needs of most people. Those that are too short or too tall, however, may need custom-made chairs.
Unless you have ordered a custom chair, the model you buy should have as many adjustable elements as possible so that it can fit your body well
Step 2. Choose a model whose controls can be operated while you are seated
This facility allows the user to adjust the chair according to their body, as they can notice the effect that the different positions of each piece have on their posture.
Step 3. Choose a chair whose seat has adjustable height and tilt
Seat height is a critical ergonomics factor, making this feature essential. The incline also contributes to good posture.
Step 4. The seat should be comfortable and its front edge curves down
This curve gives the knees more room while supporting the backs of the thighs. Look for a seat that doesn't put pressure on your thighs or knees.
Step 5. Choose a chair made of airy, non-slip fabrics
You wouldn't want to get a sweaty back or slipping on the chair seat, so pay attention to these factors when making your purchase.
Step 6. The backrest should support the lower back and have adjustable height and angle
A backrest that supports your lower back will prevent back pain and injury.
Step 7. Look at the base of the chair
The bases with five points are the ones that offer the most stability and balance to the user. The presence of wheels is at your discretion.
Step 8. The armrests should have a good distance from each other:
they should be close to your body when you're sitting, but at the same time, not get in your way when you get up. The closer your elbows are to your torso, the more comfortable you will be.
Step 9. Choose chairs with adjustable rests
They should never get in the way of arm movement while you're working or typing, and being adjustable will allow them to better meet the needs generated by your body size and the length of your arms.
- If there is not enough space under your tabletop to accommodate your thighs or move your legs, it is a sign that your table is too low and should be replaced.
- Adjustments may need to be made for different equipment, accessories and models, but the chair will generally remain constant for most settings in an office.
- Remember to sit with good posture. A finely tuned chair will do no good if you sprawl in it or lean forward. Correct posture prevents pain and injury.
- At regular intervals, get up from the post and do some exercises. No matter how comfortable the chair is, taking the same posture for many hours is not good for the spine, which can end up painful or damaged. Get up, stretch and walk for at least a minute or two every half hour.