If you’re considering the purchase of an ergonomic chair, getting the fit right is one of the most important aspects of that investment. Without the proper fit, your new chair won’t provide the support required to keep you comfortable throughout the day. Because our bodies are different, one of the easiest ways to create this custom fit is through ergonomic adjustments.
While an ergonomic chair doesn’t need to have every adjustment under the sun, if you’re looking to customize your fit, there are some key adjustments required. This post will rank the best chairs based on the ergonomic adjustments we feel are most important for customizing your chair’s fit.
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Best Ergonomic Office Chairs For 2019
- Steelcase Leap – 90/100 Rated Ergonomic Chair
- Steelcase Gesture – 89/100 Rated Ergonomic Chair
- Office Master Truly. – 89/100 Rated Ergonomic Chair
- Eurotech iOO – 89/100 Rated Ergonomic Chair
- Humanscale Freedom – 88/100 Rated Ergonomic Chair
- Nightingale CXO – 88/100 Rated Ergonomic Chair
- BTOD Akir – 85/100 Rated Ergonomic Chair
- Eurotech ME7ERG – 78/100 Rated Ergonomic Chair
- 10 Adjustments You Must Consider Before Buying an Ergonomic Chair
- Bottom Line
1. Steelcase Leap – 90/100 Ergonomics Rating
Our highest ranked chair in the list is the Steelcase Leap chair. This also happens to be our best office chair for 2019. Steelcase put a big emphasis on fitting the 5th to 95th percentile with this chair and it’s no surprise that it ended up in the first position on this list.
The Leap chair comes with almost every ergonomic adjustment you could want in an ergonomic office chair. The two areas of the Leap that we really liked were the widely adjustable armrests and the LiveBack technology lumbar system.
The arms on the Leap chair ranked second overall, with only the Steelcase Gesture scoring better. With a ton of adjustment range to fit most users and soft pads, there is a lot of reason to like them.
The lumbar support system on the Leap is also one of the best that we tested, with independent height and depth adjustment. While some chairs’ adjustable lumbar systems are gimmicky, the Leap provides real impact for your back.
2. Steelcase Gesture – 89/100 Ergonomics Rating
Ranked second overall for ergonomic adjustments, the Gesture chair was one point behind the Leap. Like the Leap, the development of the Gesture was focused around fitting the 5th to 95th percentile. The only reason that the Leap chair scored one point more was the additional two tilt lock positions. The Gesture has three and the Leap has five.
One of the best ergonomic adjustment features on the Gesture is the widely adjustable arms. Ranking number one overall, they are pretty incredible when considering the adjustment range. When Steelcase developed the Gesture arms, they considered how the use of devices has changed over the years. With that in mind, they knew there was a need for a significant amount of arm width adjustment.
The second ergonomic adjustment that our office really liked was the seat depth. Most seat depth adjustments are clunky and require an awkward movement of the user to adjust the seat pan. The Gesture has a knob that allows you to move the seat depth while seated in the chair. This is a game changer and allows you to quickly fine-tune the seat depth.
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3. OfficeMaster Truly. – 89/100 Ergonomics Rating
The OfficeMaster Truly. is our highest ranked ergonomic chair that is available for under $600. Truly. is also the only chair in the list that included all of the nine standard ergonomic adjustments. It’s important to note that the Truly. is a highly configurable chair. The options we have included with our test chair can vary from what you ultimately select.
The Poly back design of the Truly. is one of the most unique features on the chair. Because of the flexible design, increasing and decreasing lumbar is done through flexing the backrest. The flexible nature of the plexi material also creates the ability to move in the chair, which can be nice during long sitting periods.
If you’re looking for a nice tall backrest, the Truly. is a good option. It is the first chair in the list to offer back height adjustment as well, so if you like this adjustment it is standard on all Truly. chairs.
4. Eurotech iOO – 89/100 Ergonomics Rating
The iOO chair is ranked fourth overall, but technically tied with the OfficeMaster Truly. chair. This chair is Eurotech’s alternative to their Ergohuman series. Depending on your aesthetic preference, it is easier on the eyes than the Ergohuman chairs as well.
One of the first features, that really stands out on the iOO, is the lower lumbar support. Based on the Ergohuman design, it is very pronounced and the first part of the back to hit you when you lean into the chair. If you tend to lean forward while tasking at the computer, it continues to provide really good lower support. The lumbar automatically adjusts to your body weight and has some additional height adjustment to it as well.
While the model we tested didn’t include a headrest, there is an option to add it to the iOO. The headrest feature has height and tilt adjustment, to help fine-tune it for your body.
5. Humanscale Freedom – 88/100 Ergonomics Rating
The Humanscale Freedom chair with headrest might look simple, but don’t let that fool you. The Freedom chair is a highly adjustable ergonomic chair. With a score of 88/100, it has almost all of the standard ergonomic functions and then some.
The signature ergonomic adjustment on the Freedom is the weight-activated mechanism. When Niels Diffrient created the Freedom, he wanted to create an easy to use mechanism and this was his answer.
Unlike other chairs we’ve tested, the Freedoms weight-activated mechanism works at all positions. Whether you’re upright, fully reclined or somewhere in the middle, the Freedom’s mechanism has no problem holding the position. I really enjoyed the ability to work in a 75% recline and easily move back to an upright position when needed.
The second ergonomic feature that was well received on the Freedom was the pivoting backrest/lumbar. Because the Freedom was designed to promote movement, it was nice having lumbar support that moved with you. The lumbar support is also height adjustable, letting you fine-tune its placement.
6. Nightingale CXO – 88/100 Ergonomics Rating
The Nightingale CXO is closer to your traditional chair than the Freedom chair, which is tied in score at 88/100. The CXO features all the standard ergonomic adjustments, except for back height adjustment.
The CXO comes with an optional headrest and the test chair we used included this feature. The unique thing about the CXO’s headrest is the ability for it to be added while the chair is in the field. All the other chairs in the list that include a headrest need to pre-order this feature.
The CXO also features a unique foam seat pad, which is constructed of a material called ENERSORB. While this isn’t something that is manually adjusted, it does function based on the user’s weight. This special formulation of foam is specifically designed to allow a more uniform distribution of weight. In the end, this helps to redistribute pressure over a wider area.
7. BTOD Akir – 85/100 Ergonomics Rating
The BTOD Akir chair is one of the least unique chairs in the list. This can be a good thing, especially if you’re looking to stay on budget. The most popular combination (fabric seat/mesh back) is available for just over $400 and is the least expensive option on our list.
With a score of 85/100, it is no slouch in the ergonomic chair game. Featuring almost all of the standard ergonomic adjustments, it has a ton of features for close to the $400 mark. The only adjustment it’s missing from our big nine is back height adjustment. With an already tall backrest, this might not be an issue for most users.
8. Eurotech ME7ERG – 78/100 Ergonomics Rating
The second to last chair in the list is the wildly popular Ergohuman ME7ERG. This chair rose to fame over ten years ago, when it was the first real chair to provide a good alternative to the Herman Miller Aeron.
The biggest selling feature on the Ergohuman chair is its pronounced lumbar support system. It was this feature that kept me in the leather mesh combination for over seven years. If you’re looking for incredible lower lumbar support, you really can’t beat the original product to feature this design.
The ME7ERG also features a unique headrest for its time, which has since been copied quite a bit. Instead of being a traditional headrest that pushes against the back of your head, it actually fits between your neck and head. This provides good support for both when reclined in the chair. The design of the backrest also keeps the headrest out of the way when you’re upright tasking in the chair.
10 Ergonomic Adjustments You Must Consider
There are nine foundational ergonomic adjustments that should be considered for all office chairs. In addition to that, there are ergonomic adjustments that aren’t as commonly found on chairs but can provide value, depending on your needs.
Below we have outlined all nine and cover some of the more common additional adjustments that are available. We also include the potential points out of 100 that each adjustment represents. The more important we feel the adjustment, the higher the available points will be for the feature.
Seat Height Adjustment (16 Points)
This is the most basic feature on an office chair and is an absolute must-have. Getting the seat height correct is the foundation for the rest of your chair’s adjustments. The ergonomics standard for fitting the 5th to 95th percentile (5’2 to 6’4”) of the population is 16” up to 21” tall. The correct position for your body should be with your feet flat on the floor.
Seat Depth Adjustment (16 Points)
Seat depth adjustment isn’t as common as seat height, but it is still one of the most important functions on an ergonomic chair. Because of this reason, it is given 16 potential points. Having a sliding seat pan will allow you to adjust the seat depth for shorter or longer legs. This is important to fine tuning the support underneath your legs. The recommended set up is to have three to four fingers from the back of your knee to the front of the seat pan.
Back Height Adjustment (4 Points)
The ability to adjust the height of the backrest isn’t as important as a lot of the other functions listed. Because of this, it only has four available points. If you’re a tall user this can be a nice feature to have, since some backs aren’t tall enough in the lowest position to fully encompass your back.
Back height adjustment can be a nice feature if you’re trying to fine-tune the height of the lumbar on your backrest as well. This is especially true if the chair’s lumbar is built into the backrest or is just a natural curve in the backrest.
Arm Height (13 Points)
The first arm adjustment we look for is height adjustment. This is the most basic and also the most commonly found arm adjustment. Don’t let that fool you though since this is one of the most important. Getting your office chairs’ arms set at the proper height will ensure good support of your arm while typing. This helps to reduce pressure in the shoulders and neck.
Arm Width (13 Points)
The second of the arm adjustments that we look for is arm width and is equally as important as height adjustment in our opinion. Because of this, it has thirteen total points available. Without the ability to adjust the width of your armrests, there is a good chance the arms will be too wide for a medium to small frame. If the arms of your chair are too wide, you’ll either discontinue use of the arms or sit in an awkward position. Both are bad for ergonomics.
Arm Depth (4 Points)
The third arm adjustment is arm depth. This movement of the arm is as important as height or width. Because of that, it has four points available. Even though we don’t feel it is as important, doesn’t mean it’s not a nice feature to have.
If you use a keyboard tray or work in a corner of a desk, it can be nice to customize the individual pads. Getting support for your forearm is important for typing and using the mouse comfortably for long periods of time.
The other thing to consider is how your arms work with the backrest when in a reclined position. For most chairs that have the arms attached to the seat, the arms won’t move with the backrest in mid to full recline. This creates an awkward gap between the arm and backrest. With depth adjustable arms, you can move the arm pads closer to the backrest when in the reclined position.
Arm Pivot (4 Points)
The last arm adjustment is arm pivot adjustment. This is equal to depth as far as importance is concerned, so it has four points available as well. Like arm depth, arm pivot adjustment provides a customized fit for your forearms. Most will be looking for this for their typing tasks.
Adjustable Lumbar (16 Points)
Having good lower support in an office chair ranks near the top of the list for importance. This is only reaffirmed with the number of times back support is paired with office chairs when searching for a new chair. Getting that support in the right spot is specific to the individual and so the lumbar needs to be adjustable. Because this adjustment is so important, it has sixteen points available.
Tilt Lock (4 Points)
Depending on how you work at your desk, having multi-position tilt lock can be an important feature to have. This function allows you to lock the chair in various reclined positions and upright as well. Most chairs will have between one to four positions, but some chairs will come with infinite position lock.
Chairs that have one position will get one point. If you have two to three positions, we give two points. Three to five positions score three points, and infinite position lock gets the max of four.
Additional Adjustments (5 Points)
The last ergonomic adjustments we score are extra or additional adjustments for office chairs. These aren’t as common as the first nine but can be important to smaller groups of people. This includes things like adjustable headrests, forward seat tilt or weight activated recline mechanisms. There is up to five additional points for these, with each extra function scoring two points and if a chair has three, it will max out at five points.
If you’re shopping for a new ergonomic office chair sight unseen, paying attention to the ergonomic adjustments is important. Being able to fine tune a chair’s fit to your specific needs can make or break your sitting experience. While we feature nine of the most commonly found adjustments in our list, there are plenty of other unique features available. Paying close attention to the adjustments you require for good ergonomics will maximize your ergonomic seating investment.