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How do I set my office chair up correctly?

A good office chair should have several functions that are worth knowing how to use so that if you suffer backache, feel uncomfortable, change desk heights or if you simply just want to know how to sit more comfortably, check out the following tidbits of advice.

A tweak here or there could make all the difference to preventing or managing aches and pains when sitting at your desk - especially for your lower back.

When purchasing a new chair, aim to buy a chair with a minimum of 3 levers, adjustable back height and don’t be dictated by price. Buying a new chair is like buying a new pair of shoes. It is preferable if you can choose your own, so that at a minimum it feels comfortable to sit on. Flexible settings are also important. Buying a chair with a minimum three levers controls the seat height, angle and back rest angle and is also flexible if the chair is a multi user chair, such in the case of hotdesking.

The more a chair is flexible to your needs, the less pain & discomfort you are likely to have. The more flexibility a chair has the more likely it will suit a variety of body shapes, heights and working demands as well. A good chair brand will last up to 10 years, so it’s worth investing in the right chair. If you are an employer, the more flexibility and adjustability a chair has the more it will suit the majority of employees.

Lumbar Support is also very important. Position the lumbar support of your chair to support your lumbar spine. The inward curve of your spine (aka lumbar spine) should be fully supported by your office chair. Adjust your back rest up or down so the curved cushioning of the backrest is in contact with your lower back, just above the belt line. This will allow for the natural curves to be maintained whilst offloading additional pressure on the lower back.

Back rest position tip - You may need to adjust your backrest each week as they often move down over time, especially if the back rest is held in place by a knob that needs to be loosed to move it up and down.

Sitting posture is also worth knowing about as well. Sitting upright at a 90o angle is not the best position for your back to be in when seated. Reclining the backrest ever so slightly (approx. 95-115 degrees) will allow for weight to be shifted & increase comfort.

Why? This shifts your weight from your back to the chair back rest instead of directly down on the spine.

Chair height is also important to know about as well - hip knees and ankles should be at a 90o angle, however elbows also need to be at 90o as well… and this should not be compromised. So if your elbows are at 90o and you can’t get your feet on the ground, then a footstool is most likely required, see - If the desk can be lowered, this would be preferable over using a footstool.

Tip - hips can sit higher than knees, but knees should never sit higher than hips as this compromises your hip flexor length.

Chairs come with seat slides which are good for very tall people, and they also come with shortened gas levers / struts for shorter people as well.

So as you can see, setting up your chair is complicated, and hopefully the above information has given you a little bit of knowledge on how to sit well and work well. If you have any questions or if you would like any help choosing the right chair for you, please get in touch with us.

Randa Abbasi is a New Zealand trained Occupational Therapist and owner / operator of WorkSpace IQ. Randa has over 25 years experience in leading and managing teams in the health sector and specializes in ergonomics, wellbeing, personal and professional development and clinical supervision.

Randa can be reached at WorkSpace IQ | Home

Mobile: 021 1971 060

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