The average American now spends around a third of their waking hours sitting down, according to a 2019 study by researchers at Washington University’s medical school in St. Louis, and that number is less likely to decrease for those who hold desk jobs. While there are a few things you can do to prevent harmful effects from long hours of sitting down, one of the best ways to support your joints and muscles is to invest in the best ergonomic chair for your body.
Sitting in a cheaply designed office or desk chair can lead to back, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as poor circulation, increased fatigue, lack of concentration, and digestive issues. So, whether you’re working with a makeshift set up at home or the company chairs just aren’t cutting it, an upgraded seat is one of those office essentials that can make a world of difference when it comes to your general well-being and overall health, especially over time.
And there isn’t one ergonomic chair to rule them all, so we have created this guide to help you identify what fit and features will work best for your body. From extra lumbar support to kneeling chairs, we’ve got you covered; say goodbye to cramps, creaks, and crankiness with an ergonomic workstation that improves your posture, pain, and ultimately your mood.
- Best ergonomic chair overall: Steelcase Gesture Chair
- Best all-mesh ergonomic chair: Herman Miller Aeron Chair
- Best ergonomic chair for back pain: All33 Backstrong C1
- Best ergonomic drafting chair: Flash Furniture Mid-Back Drafting Chair
- Best ergonomic kneeling chair: Varier Original Kneeling Chair
- Best budget kneeling chair: Office Star Kneeling Chair
- Best ergonomic chair under $400: HON Ignition 2.0
- Best ergonomic chair under $200: Modway Articulate Ergonomic Office Chair
Features to consider when shopping for the best ergonomic chair
The best ergonomic chair will provide the necessary support for your neck, shoulders, arms, and back, keeping your spine aligned and your joints in the proper position. A great chair should keep you comfortable even during a long workday and help prevent additional strain from sitting for extended periods of time. While shopping, keep in mind any bad habits you’re trying to change—like posture—as well as any particular areas where you want extra support. You’ll also want to think about the type of work you do and find a chair that complements your desk or workspace. Knowing where to get started on your search can be a bit tricky, so we’ve compiled the best ergonomic chairs to help you get started.
1. Look for a quality chair with adjustable features
A great ergonomic office chair needs to be able to support your body weight, height, and alignment needs over time. To achieve long-term functionality and comfort, invest in a chair that will keep your computer monitor at eye level, your wrists straight, your hands at or below elbow level, your knees in line with your hips, and your feet flat on the floor or footrest. With that in mind, it’s critical to get a chair with an adjustable seat height. It’s also important that you’re able to adjust your armrests back and forth, as it will lead to optimal hand and elbow placement regardless of limb length, especially if you tend to lean forward. In this position, without an armrest, your back muscles have to do all the work to keep you upright, which will, of course, lead to further strain. You can even go a step further and look for 360-degree rotation, which is particularly great for those who can’t hold the perfect sitting position all day long (we’re looking at you, crossed-legged sitters and hunched-over hand writers).
We recommend grabbing a model with additional seat depth, back support, or reclining tension customization for maximum comfort. Many desk chairs will allow you to push back and recline, which can be good for relieving stress and pressure throughout your back and hips. Adjustable tension means you won’t have to continuously push back in order to retain that reclined position, resulting in a more comfortable, relaxing experience overall. These extra features will help you address your spine’s specific needs.
2. If you tend to run hot, look for an ergonomic mesh office chair
Ergonomic mesh office chairs are an excellent way to get the support you need without overheating. They can also be easier to get in and out of, which is particularly helpful for those with hip or knee pain. Additionally, mesh chairs are lighter, less bulky, and easier to clean than other fabrics. A high-quality model should be light and springy with just the right amount of flexibility, almost like sitting in a hammock.
While some mesh chairs can be expensive, we think it’s worth it to invest. Low-quality mesh design can create more problems than it solves; if the mesh is too stiff, your weight won’t be evenly distributed. If the mesh sags, your back and bottom won’t have enough support. Durable, pliable mesh should be able to lightly contour the body, lifting it from the seat and supporting it from behind without giving way or sinking. If extra airflow and a lightweight design are what you seek, but the high price point of quality, full-mesh models are a deterrent, try looking for a chair that boasts a mesh back and upholstered seat for the best of both worlds.
3. If you suffer from back pain and you just can’t perfect your posture, go for something “slouch-proof”
For most of us, back pain has a lot to do with our posture and sitting positions. If you tend to slump forward, creating an exaggerated curve in your spine, chances are your lower back and hips will be stiff long before the end of your workday. To offset the effects of poor posture, look for a chair with additional lumbar support, which will often take the form of a cushion or indentation that contours to your lower back and creates a slight arch, making it harder for you to slouch forward. Take a look at the back of any chair you’re considering and look for that signature S-curve shape. If you see something with a flat back or bowl instead, you might want to consider another option.
4. Are you looking for an ergonomic drafting chair to go with a standing desk?
Those with specialized professions that don’t utilize a typical desk can benefit greatly from a well-designed drafting chair. The principles behind healthy sitting are still the same for those who use higher work surfaces, including standing desks, so you might need a few additional features to keep your spine in alignment.
Seat height-adjustability is super important when it comes to drafting chairs; make sure you go for a flexible model with a pneumatic gas lift for easy adjustments. Equally important is the inclusion of a sturdy 360-degree footrest ring. With a drafting chair, there is no chance your feet will be able to rest on the floor, at least not while working at a tall desk; however, the best way to alleviate pain and pressure is to keep your feet flat on a surface squarely underneath your knees. Adjustable tilt tension can also be a key player when it comes to sitting comfortably in your drafting chair. Being up high means more support or resistance might be useful when you want to lean back. Finally, be sure to pay attention to all the features of a regular ergonomic office chair, i.e., armrests, lumbar support, and other customizable options.
5. If your traditional desk chair just isn’t cutting it, consider an ergonomic kneeling chair
Just like active-sitting chairs, kneeling chairs force you to engage your muscles in order to stay upright; they are the quickest way to strengthen your core and improve posture, which, as previously mentioned, is one of the best things you can do to relieve back pain. An ergonomic kneeling chair forgoes any back support and evenly disperses your weight between your spine, thighs, and shins for a sitting experience that is just as comfortable as a traditional model while naturally encouraging better posture. Cushy pads protect your knees and shins, so aside from getting used to your new, healthy sitting position for a few days, you shouldn’t feel any discomfort or pain. After a few weeks of continuous use, you’re likely to notice some sizable changes when it comes to the way you sit.
There are a few options for kneeling chairs—if you want even more flexibility when it comes to sitting positions, opt for a kneeling rocking chair, which will let you put your feet flat on the floor and recline. If you aren’t sure you’re ready to go totally backless, you can look for one that offers additional mid- or high-spine support. You can even find kneeling chairs that come with casters so you can easily maneuver around your ergonomic workstation. Just keep in mind that you cannot adjust the seat height on a kneeling chair, so make sure you measure your desk height and purchase accordingly.
6. Can I be sitting pretty on a budget?
Truly great ergonomic chairs often come with a high price point, for a reason—these models are built to last for years without degrading or losing their support over time. Practically every part of a solid ergonomic chair is adjustable, which also accounts for cost. However, there are undoubtedly several chairs out there that are more affordable. Make sure you look at the specs of budget ergonomic chairs, checking in on adjustability and lumbar support first. Typically the first thing you sacrifice with a less pricey option is the number of customizable features, like armrests, seat tilt, and more. That doesn’t mean that the chair won’t do a good job supporting your spine, but it does mean that you might sacrifice a little bit of overall comfort. Another way to get a quality chair is to buy used. Though you will probably sacrifice any included warranty, many high-quality, pre-owned chairs are resold through office liquidators and more; this way, you can get an expensive chair for practically half the price.
Best ergonomic chair overall: Steelcase Gesture Chair
Steelcase Gesture Chair
The best of the best when it comes to customizable positioning and adjustable features. Steelcase
The Steelcase Gesture Chair is, perhaps, the best ergonomic chair on the market. It’s fully adjustable and easy to maneuver. You can move the seat depth forward or backward, change the tilt tension, and move the seat up or down, all using simple built-in knobs. The seat comes with four recline lock positions, and its wheels work on carpet flooring. The armrests can be rotated 360 degrees, and the 3D Liveback support technology is designed to mimic the movements of your spine as you change positions. The seat cushion is the perfect blend of soft yet structured with a flexible perimeter to relieve pressure points. A 12-year warranty will keep you and your chair in business for many days to come, plus it’s available in well over 50 fabric and color options, so you can maintain the perfect home office aesthetic.
Best all-mesh ergonomic chair: Herman Miller Aeron Chair
Herman Miller Aeron Chair
A supportive ergonomic chair with a mesh seat and back. Available in multiple sizes with customizable features. Walmart
The Aeron Chair by Herman Miller is the best of the best when it comes to an ergonomic mesh office chair (and ergonomic office chair, to be honest). It is just as supportive as other high-end models, with increased breathability and moisture control. It comes in three sizes—A, B, and C—which correlate to various height and weight ranges. Once you select the right size, you can add on additional features such as fully adjustable arms, a tilt limiter/seat angler, adjustable Posturefit support, and quiet castor options. Manipulate the lumbar support to best suit your back. A tried-and-true office staple for 20 years, this chair is designed for desk workers who spend long hours sitting down, making it a great addition to an ergonomic workstation.
Best ergonomic chair for back pain: All33 Backstrong C1
All33 Backstrong C1
A unique, swing-like design allows you to move without sacrificing posture to prevent back pain. all33
The All33 Backstrong C1 chair is one of a kind. Created by a chiropractor and industrial designer, the seat and lower lumbar support of this chair pivots separately from the back, cradling the pelvis, encouraging movement, and preventing users from slumping forward for a combination of active and passive seating. Foldaway arms allow you to move closer to your monitor when needed, and the adjustable seat is suited for those between roughly 5- and 6-feet tall, with some flexibility for someone a little shorter or taller. It’s available in three colorways and made from high-grade vegan leather. It also features a 360-degree swivel seat and rolling casters. Best of all, setup takes all of 10 minutes at most, so you can get to bettering your posture ASAP.
Best ergonomic drafting chair: Flash Furniture Mid-Back Drafting Chair
Flash Furniture Mid-Back Drafting Chair
An adjustable drafting chair that adapts to your workstation. Flash Furniture
This mid-back drafting chair has all the essential features every ergonomic seat needs and more. A ventilated curved back supports the spine and the waterfall edge relieves pressure on the thighs. Plus, there is a height-adjustable chrome foot ring. A tilt lever can be used to lock the chair into an upright position or allow for some rocking, while the tilt tension knob controls resistance. The seat can be raised up to 30 inches from the floor and the dual caster wheels are easy to move with. When you rest your elbows on the padded flip-up arms, you can help increase circulation—or, you can flip them up to create a larger seating area. It comes in a variety of colorways, and you can even find a more traditional office chair counterpart should you need an additional model.
Best ergonomic kneeling chair: Varier Variable Balans Original Kneeling Chair
Varier Variable Balans Original Kneeling Chair
Based on the original kneeling chair, this unit is designed to gently tilt your pelvis forward, encouraging perfect posture and aligning your spine. Varier
The Variable Balans was designed by Peter Opsvik, a significant designer and part of the popularization and implementation of the ergonomic kneeling chair in homes and offices. Made from high-quality, flexible wood, this chair is exquisitely designed to support your body and relieve pressure. Note that, unlike many other models, this unit does not need an additional crossbar—a testament to the thorough engineering that went into the design. It weighs under 14 pounds and comes in eight different colors to complement your style. This chair certainly finds strength in simplicity, allowing you to find your balance and improve back pain. If you’re not sure a kneeling chair is for you, but you want to try an ergonomic kneeling chair before committing to a higher-end model, check out the Office Star Kneeling Chair to get started.
Best ergonomic chair under $400: HON Ignition 2.0
HON Ignition 2.0
Excellent lumbar support and adjustable options put this budget-friendly pick in competition with high-end models. HON
The HON Ignition 2.0 is a budget ergonomic chair that has many of the adjustable features valued in high-end chairs. It has a breathable mesh back, as well as customizable back recline, height, and seat positioning. The armrests are also fully adjustable to move up, down, towards, and away from your body. It even has an option for lumbar support, which can be moved up or down depending on your lower back’s comfort needs. While it may not be as plush as some of the other models listed here, it should do the trick when it comes to elevating a regular office chair. If this price point is still just a little too high for you, take a look at this budget ergonomic chair from Modway, which also has select adjustable features, including armrests, seat height, and tilt.
Best ergonomic chair FAQ: people also ask
Why are ergonomic chairs so expensive?
Ergonomic chairs are more expensive because of the built-in adjustments. Essentially each chair has the potential to be a few different chairs in one when you take into account their additional seat height, tension, armrests, lumbar support, and any additional customizations. These chairs are also designed to last many years, whereas budget ergonomic chair can show visible signs of wear and tear after a year or two of consistent use, leading to a greater cost over time.
Is an ergonomic chair worth it?
Yes, ergonomic chairs are definitely worth it. When you think about all the hours you spend sitting down at your desk, it only makes sense to invest in a chair that won’t deteriorate your physical health and overall comfort over time. You want to be able to enjoy activities after work, and an ergonomic chair will help you do so. Your body will thank you years down the road.
How do I choose the best ergonomic chair?
To choose the best ergonomic chair for you, first consider your budget, and then look for an option within your price range that offers the most in terms of adjustments and customizations. Think about any specific issues you want to work on, such as back pain or improving posture. Always look for a chair that explicitly provides lumbar support and make sure it will suit your height and weight. Or, if you experience uncomfortable sweating during the day, look at an ergonomic mesh office chair. Just take into consideration your situation and you’ll make the right decision.
The final word on shopping for the best ergonomic chairs
You should now be well on your way to finding the best ergonomic chair for you and your workstation. Always remember to look for adjustable features and make sure the chair you’re interested in will provide lumbar support for your lower back. Also, keep in mind that making a sound investment in your physical health is never a bad idea, so try your best to find a well-constructed model that will stand up to the test of time—your back will thank you.>