When you're glued to a desk for most of the day, having an office chair for back pain (rather, for relieving or preventing back pain) is not a luxury, but a must. Sitting for long periods without the right support can wreak havoc on your back muscles, reinforce bad posture and end up causing a lot of pain and potential damage. But while so many office chairs promise to be ergonomic and comfy, how can you really tell if a chair is good for supporting your back?
What to look for in choosing an office chair to prevent back pain
One main feature to consider is adjustability. Chairs with adjustable heights are key in helping keep pressure off of your lower back, according to Joel Giffin, PT, DPT, a physical therapist and founder of Flex Physical Therapy.
"You need to make sure the seat can adjust up and down, because you want your feet to be flat ideally on the ground...," Giffin says. "If your feet are just dangling, it pretty much puts direct pressure onto the low back, and, believe it or not, even up into the neck, so that’s why the seat height is important," Giffin adds.
Additionally, finding a chair with adequate lumbar support is important if you want to prevent back pain. This is going to help check your posture and keep you from slouching, which is something that can ultimately lead to pain in your back and neck in the long run.
"You don’t need a lot of [lumbar support], but you probably need more than what the average chairs [have]. Some chairs say [they have] lumbar support but [there's] really hardly anything there. So you want something real. If you have a distinct back problem like a herniated disc, you might want more back support." In that case, Giffin says you can use something like a back cushion or pillow to tack onto your chair as a substitute lumbar support if your chair doesn't have any.
Thankfully, many chairs have most of these features built in already. However, if you need some guidance on what are some of the best office chairs to help with back pain, here are some of our favorites.
Best office chairs for back pain
If affordability is your top priority, then this Amazon pick is a worthy buy at $51. Although it has a pretty standard design, it’s perfect as a simple task chair to put in your home office or to station at your makeshift work desk. Additionally, it has some lumbar support and mesh backing to help with breathability to keep you cool. Plus, you can adjust the stem of the chair by 3.5 inches to accommodate different heights.
One helpful reviewer writes, “After facing WFH for the foreseen future, I decided I needed to finally upgrade from a wooden kitchen chair to a proper office chair to minimize back pain. I was also looking for something fairly small and compact to fit in my space as well as affordable and comfortable. I wasn’t sure about this chair given the price, but decided to take the chance and I’m glad I did! It’s surprisingly study and comfortable, and has held up to daily use for 8+ hours every day for the last three months.”
Originally $259.99, on sale for $219.99
When it comes to adjustability, this chair from Novelland is especially great for the back. While most office chairs only allow you to customize the height, this one also allows you to adjust the lumbar pillow in the lower back as well the armrests and the headrest to help give your body complete support and range of motion. Not to mention, you can tilt the backrest 130 degrees if you prefer more of a lounging position.
One customer writes, “After I began working from home, I quickly realized my old chair did not provide sufficient back and neck support. I suffered in pain for quite sometime before finally buying this chair, and I only wish I had done so sooner. The headrest and lumbar support have given me immediate relief. The construction feels quite sturdy and solid too.”
Originally $329.50, on sale for $289.50
For someone who likes flexibility, this Gabrylly chair is one that may meet your needs and then some. It gives you four supporting points (for head, back, hips, and hands), so your entire body actually feels comfortable for longer. As one major plus, you can flip up the armrests to create more area space around you if you’re in a tight spot. Additionally, the seat cushion is pretty spacious and can actually hold up to 280 pounds. One happy customer says, “This is by far one of the best chairs I’ve ever sat on. The mesh is super comfortable as it is firm and quite supportive of my back. I also love how breathable the mesh is eliminating hot spots on my back. I’ve sat in chairs more expensive than this that were not breathable and it could get kinda hot sometime when my back is pressed against the chair.”
Part of the reason for the high price tag here is because of the chair’s high-tech design. The backrest completely adjusts to you and applies pressure based on the unique shape of your body. In this way, your back gets a balanced amount of pressure and support at all times. The chair also has 11 lockable reclining options in case you want to kick back and relax.
In terms of simplicity, you can’t go wrong with this Inbox Zero chair. It’s equipped with all the basics, including lumbar support, adjustable height and ergonomic design. Additionally, you can hide the armrests and tilt the backrest 90 to 125 degrees if you like to rock back and forth as you work.
If you’re looking to splurge, then this Freedom Task Chair is fully stacked with a lot of cool specs to help make sitting at a desk job a breeze. Case in point: The chair doesn’t come with any knobs or levers, or any other manual adjustments. Rather, it automatically conforms to your body to help give your spine the right adjustment as you sit.
Originally $193.23, on sale for $156.57.
Apart from the unique built-in lumbar support that helps form to your back’s natural curve, and its synchro tilt that encourages better circulation and weight distribution, this chair also is GreenGuard Certified for low chemical emissions to help promote good air quality inside your living space. “Love this chair and well worth the money. I work from a computer for many hours a day my neck and back will hurt. With this chair, I can sit in it all day without having pains and a headache. This is a huge change in my day,” one reviewer writes.
When it comes to the ergonomic office chairs, Herman Miller is one retailer that has truly cornered the market (if you’ve got $1,445 to spend, that is). In particular, its Aeron Chair is a fan-favorite thanks to its high-tech adjustability. For example, the back pads adjust to help stabilize and support the base of your spine. As a bonus, the chair features eco-friendly materials and is available in three different chair sizes to accommodate more body types.
A win for both short and tall people, this chair has four different locking positions and a padded lumbar support cushion that you can adjust up and down. Additionally, you can change the seat depth by sliding the seat cushion back and forth to help create more space for your lower back and torso away from the backrest.
An enthusiastic customer writes, “Most amazing chair! You will not regret this purchase ! COVID changed my whole work situation. I’ve gone from [approx] 5 hrs a week sitting at my home desk to over 40 hrs! Within weeks of this transition, my back began to hurt so badly that I thought I might need to see a doctor. Then it dawned on me: it’s my office chair. I did a lot of research (tested as many chairs that I could at all local furniture and office chain stores). I read reviews online. I realized that a quality office chair was going cost me some money but give me my mobility back and take away my back pain. My research paid off! This chair is worth every penny! Perfect for me! No more back pain in fact when I sit down in this chair I feel a therapeutic comfort!”
Available in two different colors, this ErgoChair comes with adjustable height, headrest, armrests and a footrest to help support body from head to toe. The chair also shifts and adjusts based on your body weight to keep you from putting additional strain on your back, shoulders, arms and neck.
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