What is a Posture Chair?

Synthia L. Rose

A posture chair is a single-seat piece of furniture designed according to the principles of ergonomics and crafted to reduce stress and injury from long periods of sitting. The recliner model is one style of posture chair; it allows the user to lean backward and tilt at a variety of angles. Another rarer type of posture chair is the kneeling chair, which has no back and allows a person to lean forward in a kneeling posture. Some people use an exercise ball as a posture chair because it engages muscles, encourages an erect torso, and allows free movement. The zero-gravity chair model is a fourth kind of posture chair which purportedly alleviates all muscle strain.

A zero-gravity chair elevates the user's feet above their heart.
A zero-gravity chair elevates the user's feet above their heart.

The key characteristics of any posture chair include flexibility, adjustability, and spinal support. Flexibility allows the user to lean and move around. Studies show that chairs which can lean at a 130-degree angle can typically provide more lumbar back support and comfort than an immovable chair requiring one to sit perfectly straight at a 90-degree angle. Also, research suggests that workers who are able to move around and be more dynamic throughout the day stay more refreshed and productive than those who sit in stationary chairs that are immovable. Swiveling, bouncing, and rocking are all motions that can allow the type of muscle stretching and relaxation that aids and relieves weary legs, arms, torsos, and glutes.

A posture chair can help reduce strain on the neck.
A posture chair can help reduce strain on the neck.

The ability to self-adjust the height of the chair is usually standard on any posture chair. This feature allows people of any height to coordinate the chair’s lift to the height of a desk or computer. This coordination reduces wrist strain and the pressure on nerve endings in the hands, warding off typical workplace injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Forearms and shoulders are also more relaxed when customized seating heights are available. The height variation also provides relief for ankles—ergonomic chairs without levers to adjust height often come with foot rests to provide ankle relief.

Posture chairs with adjustable height may reduce chronic shoulder strain.
Posture chairs with adjustable height may reduce chronic shoulder strain.

Contoured padding and rolling casters are typical in the design of a posture chair. Armrests are another standard feature. Occasionally, neck rests are built into ergonomic chairs, although many chairs are built so that the back of the chair doubles as neck support.

Ergonomic office furniture can reduce physical strain on employees.
Ergonomic office furniture can reduce physical strain on employees.

Benefits of using ergonomic chairs include fewer workplace injuries and less time off due to suffering employees. Employees report feeling more alert at the end of the day when posture chairs are substituted for traditional chairs. Relief for the musculoskeletal system, however, is the biggest boon of these ergonomic furnishings.

Sitting in a posture chair may help support and minimize pain in the lower back.
Sitting in a posture chair may help support and minimize pain in the lower back.

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