Lately, ergonomic is a term that's been appearing all over the furniture world, but what does it really mean? Actually, ergonomics is a scientific field of study. It's dedicated to understanding the efficiency of the human body in a typical working environment. In general, products that are labeled "ergonomic" have been manufactured with intent to somehow increase user efficiency, comfort, productivity (and sometimes, health) in the workplace. A chair with an "ergonomically contoured" back has been molded to better support the occupant by contouring to their spine. Since "ergonomic" probably the most common term on this list, it's one all furniture shoppers should remember!
The level of sophistication for ergonomic furniture can vary with price, but fortunately synchro tilt is a common feature that appears on most ergonomic-labeled chairs. Basically, it just defines that a chair's back can lean back freely, often in both a backwards capacity for relaxing or a forward one to support users while typing. Chairs that come with "tilt locks" can lock in a tilt angle chosen by the user. The 6680-0 Takori Chair by Global is a very sophisticated chair with synchro tilt offered at a reasonable price. All this goes to helping ensure that users can rely on a chair that can adjust to varying needs. Definitely an ergonomic feature.
A chair with a pneumatic cylinder relies on compressed gas to adjust the height of an office chair. By pressing a button or lever on the office chair, users can force the gas in a piston (or cylinder) underneath them to adjust the chair's height. It allows for sudden fluid movement rather than forcing users to turn a crank. Most pneumatic cylinders can be adjusted while seating in the chair. Fortunately, this is a common feature on almost all ergonomic chair models, regardless of price.
As one of the most important features to modern consumers, it's no surprise that lumbar support can be found on most chair models - and also on this list! Lumbar support lets users know that there is either a cushion or other support structure in the lower end of the chair's back. When a person is seated, ideally, the lumbar rests against the inward curve at the lower end of the spine, helping it to keep shape. Without lumbar support, most chairs force improper posture, slowly molding the spine out of alignment, causing back pain. For this reason, many back pain sufferers often seek a chair with adjustable lumbar support like the 1961LM-3 Alero Chair by Global.
In the office furniture world, casters just means "wheels." In the factory though, "wheels" is a term that's far too arbitrary. Top quality manufacturers of office furniture and ergonomics recognize that not not all casters are created equal. There are different kinds depending on different scenarios. For example, carpet casters are specially designed so that they don't tear up carpets. Gliding casters are better for environments where the wheels may experience a variety of different floor types, such as carpet, wood, or linoleum. Great information if you worry about your floors.
"Waterfall Seat Edge"
Waterfall seats are a simple invention with a host of benefits for users. All it is is a simple curve at the end of the chair where the edge of the seat meets the legs. A waterfall seat chair reduces stress on this tender place, allowing blood to flow more easily through the knees, legs, and feet. Over time, this can help prevent joint pain, back aches, and even serious issues like blood clots for those at risk for it. While it's not a feature found in all ergonomic chairs, models like the MF-22-ORG chair and the rest of the Hawk Series by Eurotech are becoming more common.
"5 Star Base"
Because of the relatively uneven weight distribution and swivel features common to most office chairs, occupants often find out the hard way that it's all too easy to tip one over. However, a chair with a five star base is far less likely to have this problem. All a five star base means is that the chair has five legs to fan out and help distribute the chair's weight in as many directions as possible. Any less and a chair is highly unstable. It's not likely that you'll find a four-star base office chair, but always make sure to count before buying. Better to be safe than sorry!
Knee tilt features allow users to rock in their chairs. It relies on a pivot at the front of the seat, letting the occupant recline while also keeping their feet on the ground. Sometimes a chair with synchro knee tilt like the OFM 590-L Mesh Chair adjusts the back at the same time as the knees. This allows users to stretch out in their chairs while keeping their feet on the floor. It enhances blood flow and dynamic body movement while promoting stability.
"Back Height Adjustment"
In chairs that don't have adjustable lumbar support, back height adjustment is a saving grace. This ergonomic feature is just what it sounds like. It lets users move the entire backrest of the chair up or down so any built-in lumbar support lines up with their body more easily. Many popular office chairs by OFM and Global Total Office provide this feature. Since adjustable lumbar support is pretty hard to find, back height adjustment is definitely something to search for.
While it's not really a mechanical ergonomic feature, there are plenty of qualities to mesh fabric that render it an ergonomic advancement all on its own. Quality mesh back office chairs with ergonomic features are all the rage these days, especially in warmer climates. The perforated fabric allows for smoother air flow to keep users cool. It prevents illness by slowing the buildup of heat and germs on the user, and is also super easy to clean. Just wipe down the fabric with a disinfectant wipe and you're ready for the dog-days of summer!