Choosing an ergonomic chair isn’t always straight forward. To make it easier, we’ve put together five of the best office chairs for back pain. The following chairs have been hand-picked by our account manager and expert assessor, Pete James, who’s personally tried and tested them to help you find the best office chair for back pain.
Originally the product of an NHS brief for an accessibly-priced back care solution, the Orthopaedica family of chairs offers a range of optional adaptations, to tailor the base chair to the individual users needs.
In addition to the essential adjustments for seat height, depth and overall chair pitch, it features a tall, height adjustable, sculpted backrest, with optional lumbar and thoracic air cells that allow the user to add – or remove – additional shaping to better match the curve of their back. The chair has a generously proportioned seat pad, that can be upgraded with an ‘Airtech’ cushion which allows the user to add so shaping to the seat to better support the thighs, as well as a coccyx comfort zone to ease resistance against the tailbone.
For users of more petite body metrics, the 90-version of the chair is a slightly smaller option and when combined with a reduced-depth seat pad, offers a good solution for people of 5’3” or under.
If armrests are needed on the chair, we recommend the ‘multi-adjustable’ arms, which can be set for height, front-to-back depth and width. There is also the option of a headrest, although this is very much intended for use in the same manner as a cars neck support – it’s there if you absolutely need it, but lacks the adjustability to comfortably enable full-time contact if required.
Where the Orthopaedica lacks in headrest adjustability, the Flo chair is my number one pick for neck support. The neck roll is super-comfortable and can be placed in exactly the right spot, using three points of articulation. There are a number of success stories for people experiencing neck problems – or even undergoing surgeries -with the Flo chair, due to the support offered by the neck rest.
In addition to that, the seat is height and depth adjustable and the sculpted foam backrest is height and rake adjustable, as well as being fitted with lumbar and thoracic air cells as standard.
The Flo chair armrests can be set for height and depth, with further options for width and rotation, enabling the pads to be angled towards/away from the user’s body, should they wish to do so.
This chair also excels in its mechanism – the nuts and bolts beneath the seat that people really see. A spring is set into the mechanism, that the user can adjust against their body mass, allowing the chair to float and provide as much resistance/ease of recline as desired, which can be really beneficial. By incorporating a degree of movement in their sitting, the user can keep muscle groups engaged and promote blood flow around the body. This is by no means a replacement for those regular micro ‘posture’ breaks (every 30-40 minutes!) but certainly compliments those good workstation habits.
Very much the anomaly in this list, the Ousby came to us via our office fit-out project team, Love Your Workspace. It features a technical mesh backrest, with height-adjustable lumbar bar and a super-comfy seat pad with ‘waterfall’ front edge. Where the rest of the chairs here made the list lead by their ergonomic credentials, the Ousby chair grabbed our attention with its styling potential. Nevertheless, it exceeds the HSEs recommended base criteria by incorporating an adjustable balance mechanism, in addition to the basics of seat height and depth adjustment.
The reason for this chair’s success with back care customers is the mesh backrest, which is firm enough to support, but offering enough give to conform to the contours of the users back. In the cases of people with conditions such as scoliosis (asymmetry in the shape of the back) that flexibility means greater support over the entire plain of the back. It is also a cooler material to be sat against, so people who find themselves working in warmer environments (you know, the usual battle for the air conditioning controller…) or those experiencing conditions such a hyper-hydrosis (increased sweating) have got on very well with this chair.
There are two armrest options – 2D and 4D (up/down or multi-adjustable) – as required, as well as a host of options for component colours, making this a popular choice with home workers too, as they can make the chair less ‘officey’ than some of the others.
This is also my chair of choice, so if you ever visit us at Posture People HQ in Hove for your own chair fitting appointment, you’ll see me using an Ousby chair.
While the other entries on the list could be used to fit a number of different situations, the Axia has a more specialised application. The shape of the bottom section of the backrest has been designed to cradle the users’ pelvis in such a way that it prevents them from rolling around onto their coccyx and sacrum at the base of their back. People have often commented that they feel as though they are being hugged around the hips by the Axia and we typically put this chair forward for people experiencing difficulties with their hips, pelvis and lower back. Accordingly, it often includes a coccyx cutout at the rear of the seat pad, which is increased in thickness by a layer of ‘Dacron’, which the manufacturer adds to improve comfort further.
Like the Flo and Ousby chairs, the Axia features a floating mechanism that can be set to provide as much resistance/ease of recline as desired, albeit by adjusting the fulcrum – or balance point – of the mechanism, rather than a spring. All the other adjustments that you would expect are present on this chair, which also has the options for multi-adjustable armrests and a headrest which can be set for height and tilt.
While the focus of this chair is very much targeting the lower back, different height backrests are available, to ensure the user’s back is fully supported along its length.
The Nomi task chair is at the entry-level end of the range, with a smaller/larger variant available for a lower price point. To the eye, it certainly gives the appearance of a standard task chair; however, both variations of the Nomi chair are well-appointed – exceeding those minimum specifications – and extremely popular, particularly among local authority clients and customers from the private sector, looking to upgrade their standard office seating to something more supportive.
In addition to the basics, the sculpted foam backrest can be set for height and rake and we recommend fitting this with the integrated lumbar support. Where these chairs are used as the general office solution, the inclusion of lumbar support means that different users can set the amount of shaping in their chairs backrest, ensuring the chairs meets the requirements of as many people as possible.
The chairs can also be equipped with armrests – we recommend multi-adjustable – and the larger 3-version chair can also be specified with a basic headrest, ticking a number of boxes, as well as meeting a budget if required. For a case study featuring the Nomi as the standard office chair, here’s a sneak peek of our recent work with Madgex.
This list is by no means exhaustive and a large number of alternative solutions are available. For more information about any of the chairs in our range, why not give us a call on 0330 332 0880 or email us at [email protected] . We love to chat and advice is always free! And for further reading, guidance on setting up an ergonomic workstation, the 5% rule and a number of other workplace welfare issues are discussed elsewhere on the blog.