chair

What Kind of Office Chair Should I Buy?

Among the most common questions I’m asked as a chiropractor, “What kind of chair should I buy?” is near the top of the list. That’s because using the wrong chair can create undue strain in your neck, arms, back, hip, and legs.

With hundreds of different choices and dozens of office furniture stores to choose from, few people know where to start looking. So I’ll share some information to help you buy the right chair.

Office chairs range in price from as little as $15, all the way up to $1,500 or more. While most people can’t afford a $1,000+ chair, or can’t imagine themselves paying that much for one, we can still learn from these design concepts, and buy more price-friendly chairs that share similar ergonomic benefits.

Why Spend More Than $50-100 on a Chair?

Simply put: More Pain = Less Productivity.

Poor quality chairs decrease your productivity when they cause pain. The longer you work in a wobbly or unsupportive seat, the harder your body has to work to compensate for it. That’s a lot of wasted energy.

If you spent $600-$1,200 on the mattress that you sleep on for 6-8 hours per night, why spend less on an office chair that you sit in every day for the same amount of time? If you can afford it, buy a good one!

Best Value Chairs (Cheapest)

These chairs emulate the more expensive models, but are reasonably priced and can ease some of the common aches and pains associated with poorly designed office chairs. Think of them as the Toyota, Honda, or Hyundai of chairs.

  1. Lorell Executive High-Back Chair ($151) – Arms adjust in height and weight, seat height adjusts 17″-21″ from the floor.
  2. Alera Elusion High-Back Chair ($188) – Another adjustable chair with quality arm rests. Very well made for the price. Ideal for taller individuals. If you’re shorter or simply have a smaller body type, I recommend the mid-back version instead.

Best Overall Chairs (Worth the Higher Price Tag)

These chairs are a bit pricier than what you’re accustomed to spending on a chair, but the engineering is among the very best in the world. They’re built to last. Think of these as the PorscheAudi and BMW of chairs.

  1. Gesture Chair by Steelcase ($974) – My top choice for office chair if it’s within your budget. Investing in a well-designed chair like this can work wonders for back pain if you spend several hours per day at a desk. With the Gesture Chair, you won’t be disappointed.
  2. Aeron Chair by Herman Miller ($679 – $889) – The only thing that really separates this Aeron from anything more expensive is the absence of plush leather and a headrest. But you can buy an aftermarket headrest attachment here, and it pretty much makes this chair unbeatable. These come in three sizes (A, B, and C). Here’s the sizing guide to help determine which size is ideal for your height/weight. This is my favorite chair. If the Aeron is not your style, you might like the design of their Mirra Chair instead.
  3. Chadwick Chair by Knoll ($789) – Great build quality, tremendous design, but at this price, spend $80-100 more and get the Aeron or Leap.
  4. Ergohuman Executive Chair ($649) – A slightly more affordable version of the Freedom Chair described below.

Best of the Best (Most Expensive)

The Rolls-Royce of office chairs… It will take exceptional care of your spine.

This work of art possesses an automatic headrest with recline action that maintains constant eye level, body contoured cushions, responsive backrest, synchronous armrests, as well as independent body fit and counter-balance mechanisms. What all this means is that the Freedom Chair will dynamically respond to your movements, and constantly adapt to your position to keep you comfortable and supported while seated at your desk.

5 Responses to “What Kind of Office Chair Should I Buy?”

  1. Is there a need for head rest?
    I just bought VendorGear Headrest for my Herman Miller Aeron Chair.
    I feel uncomfortable when the head rest is touching my head while i am sitting upright, it feel like some one else is touching my head.
    I have to push the head rest to back and will only rest on my head rest when i tilted down my sit and rest on it.

    What is the correct use of head rest, support the head or neck, should i rest on it while i am sitting in upright position?

    • Headrests aren’t a must have element for all office chairs, but they can be very helpful in helping the neck muscles relax when you’re leaning back in the chair. In some ways, they serve as a subtle kinetic reminder to keep your head upright, instead of dropped down.

  2. Chris Wahlheim Reply 06/18/2014 at 10:51

    What do you think of the Herman Miller Embody?

    • That’s the kind I have in my home office, Chris. I like it; it’s a great chair… but IMO, the cost outweighs the benefits when compared to an Aeron. So if you’re planning on buying new (as opposed to pre-owned), go with the Aeron.

  3. Chris Wahlheim Reply 06/19/2014 at 11:25

    I actually found the Embody for the same price as the Aeron at a local dealer here is STL. I already placed my order!

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