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 one of our expert assessors, Pete James, who’s personally tried and tested them to help you find the best office chair for back pain.
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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 user’s 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. The standard seat pad suits people of an average height.
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 angle adjustable, and 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 rarely 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.
Orangebox Flo chair£822.00 (ex VAT)
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.
Senator Ousby chairAvailable from:
£315.00 (ex. VAT)
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.
RH Logic 400
There is a reason why the RH400 has consistently been thought of as the best ergonomic chair on the marketplace. It’s exceptionally well made (it has a 10 year warranty) and provides incredible support. It can also be adjusted in multiple ways. It’s got a depth adjustable seat which can be increased in depth to suit taller individuals. The back angle can be adjusted plus the height of the back can be moved up and down so the inflatable lumbar can be positioned in the right place. But where is really excels is the tension controlled movement system which just allows the chair to follow you if you lean forward, and support you when you lean back.
It suits people who prefer to sit in a more upright position, this is not necessarily a chair for the people who prefer a slouchy style. The chair is also firmer than some on the market. I like that as I think it gives good support, but if you prefer your chairs which lots of cushioning then this is not the right chair for you. The tall backrest provides great support up the spine, plus there’s an optional headrest.
The armrests adjust really well, with the tops swiveling round to face the back so it allows slimmer people to sit close to the desk. It can also be specified with a coccyx cut out which really helps people with sciatica or people who are susceptible to lower prolapsed discs. Sussex Police selected the chairs for use throughout their contact centres after an extensive testing process which you can read about here
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, please get in touch below. 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.