What to Look for In a Computer Chair

April 16, 2009

in computer-related health

by Tina Gasperson

If you work with a computer or just enjoy using it in your spare time to browse online, watch movies, or play games, you need a comfortable chair. In fact, the longer you spend in front of your monitor, the more important it is to have a chair that will support your lower back, keep your eyes at the right level for reading your screen, and give your wrists a break to avoid repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

It’s important that your chair be more than just comfortable. If comfort were the only criteria, then a bean bag chair would be acceptable – obviously that’s not the case. So what are the features you need to look for before you “drop coin” on that awesome chair that’s on sale at the office supply store?

At the very least, your chair needs to be adjustable – the overall height should be easy to change with a handle or lever. Steer clear of chairs that require you to use a tool to adjust the height or which do not move up and down at all. And remember that an adjustable height is not always the perfect solution – if you have to lower your chair so much that your thighs are not fairly parallel to the floor, you could cause knee problems. And if you have to raise the chair too much, your feet will dangle and your back will be unsupported. In these cases, you’ll have to adjust your desk instead of your chair.

While not essential, try to find a chair that has adjustable arm rests. These can help support your forearms at the proper height in order to promote wrist health as you use the keyboard.

Computer chair

Computer chair

Back support is very important, and if you have lower back problems already it helps to find a chair with lumbar support. Make sure the back of your chair is high enough to support your neck, but not so high that you have to “scrunch over” to fit in it. Or try an ergonomic kneeling chair, which has no back at all. Seems counterintuitive, but the chair provides complete leg support and promotes back health through good posture. This kind of chair works especially well if your monitor is at the perfect height so that you are looking straight forward, not down or up.

Tina Gasperson (tinahdee@gmail.com), affectionately known as Computer Lady by her family, has been writing about IT, home computing, and the Internet for more than a decade.