Sitting Pretty

Make sure you choose the right chair so you can work comfortably.

Think about asking for an ergonomically correct chair for Christmas from your boss – everyone will benefit!

When you spend hours every day working at a desk it’s important to make sure you have the right chair.


Choose the right chair

Assess what it is you’ll be doing when seated in this chair to make sure the ergonomics are best for you. When typing at a computer you need to make sure the chair supports upright sitting, but you may want to recline once in a while.  If you work at home, an ordinary desk chair or kitchen chair won’t do. There are a number of factors to take into consideration:

Is it the right height for you? The chair should be adjustable so that when you’re seated, your feet are flat on the floor. Your knees should be at a 90-degree angle, parallel to your hips.

Does it have adjustable armrests to support your arms while you’re typing? You should be able to adjust the armrest height so your shoulders stay down, not hunched up around your neck.

Does the backrest support the natural curvature of your spine? If the back is separate from the seat, the height and angle should be adjustable. The forward and backward angles should be adjustable if the seat and back are all one piece. The locking mechanism will secure the backrest from going too far forward or backward. The backrest should also be high enough to support your neck. Some chairs have a reclining backrest, but this is not always necessary.

You need to be seated comfortably a few inches ahead of your knees. The seat should be padded to support your hips and buttocks. A fabric covering rather than a hard surface will be more comfortable.

A headrest is a nice feature if you recline in the chair while reading a [paper] document or talking on the phone.

Don’t order this online. You need to sit in a number of different chairs to make sure you’re choosing the style that fits the work you are doing. Make sure the chairs are set up at a desk and not just on the showroom floor.  You’ll also want to compare prices. Paying more doesn’t always mean the chair is better, but one that is priced very low may not offer all of the features you need.

Choose a chair that will fit your home or office environment. Consider whether others will be using the chair—you want to make sure the chair is easy to take care of, and that the adjustable features are durable.

Take your time choosing the right chair. Remember you will be sitting there for a long time.

 Alternatives to the “traditional” chair

There are other types of chairs that are ergonomically correct and support you while you’re working. Here are three of the most commonly found:


 Kneeling Chair

This supports good posture in a modified kneeling position. Your hips are forward, aligning your shoulders, neck, and back.  Your weight is evenly distributed between your pelvis and knees reducing spinal compression, which then reduces stress and tension in the lower back and leg muscles.

 Stability Ball/Stability Ball Chair

You can choose to sit on an exercise ball, also known as a stability ball, or you can get the stability ball chair that includes a backrest or stand. Unless the ball has the backrest, it should only be used as a temporary change from your ergonomic chair as the ball alone provides no back support. What it does provide is good abdominal strengthening, which helps strengthen your back. It also helps your balance. The key is to sit up straight and not slouch.


Saddle Chair

The seat of this chair is in the shape of a horse’s saddle so you are in a semi-standing position. Your legs drop naturally towards the floor and you maintain a wider stance thus being very stable. These might be good to use at a standing desk as they are usually taller than traditional chairs, but most will have adjustable heights. The design is intended to prevent circulation problems and the problem of slouching forward, which improves posture and may lead to fewer lower back problems.

Of course sitting too long isn’t good for your back, or your circulation. It’s important to get up and move around once in a while as shown in this short video:

Sources for this article:

2Ascribe Inc. is a medical transcription services agency located in Toronto, Ontario Canada, providing medical transcription services to physicians, clinics and other healthcare providers across Canada and the US.  Having recently introduced WEBscribe, a client interface portal for document management, 2Ascribe continues to implement and develop technology to assist and improve the transcription process for physicians and other healthcare providers, for dictations by telephone or digital recorder.  As a service to our clients and the healthcare industry, 2Ascribe offers articles of interest to physicians and other healthcare professionals, medical transcriptionists and office staff, as well as of general interest.  Additional articles may be found at

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