Office chairs buying guide

A vital part of any office, the office chair is the one piece of equipment you'll use above all others. Because style and function are equally important in the modern home, you'll find a selection of chairs at Tesco to fit your requirements for design, comfort and budget.

General tips

Your office chair should be suited to your workstation and its overall use. Freedom of movement while minimising stress on your spine is important for your productivity and overall comfort. Your chair should level your eyes with your computer screen, and make sure your posture is easy to maintain. The majority of office chairs take these points into consideration during the design process.

If you are not going to be using your office chair that regularly, you might not need to look for many additional features. However, if you're using the chair for long periods of time, the more you'll appreciate having a range of adjustment features.

Why comfort is so important

Working in the correct position is not only important for immediate comfort, but over prolonged periods of sitting other issues can arise; from neck and back pain to headaches and even digestive problems.

For the ideal seating position, your eyes should be level with the screen, with your feet flat on the floor and your wrists resting on the desk. Your shoulders and back should be relaxed to keep good posture.

Adjustable height / gas lift

If you want to sit comfortably on the same chair every day, it's a good idea to raise or lower the seat until you can rest your feet flat on the floor so you're not restricting the blood supply to your lower legs and feet. Gas lift functions provide an easy way to adjust the height of your seat, while providing a more cushioned feel.

Lumbar / back support

Lumbar support is provided through gentle curves in the backrest of the chair or inserts placed into the body of the backrest. Lumbar support can be adjusted to support your back in the areas where you need it most; promoting good posture and avoiding strain. Additionally, the back support should be capable of providing full support for your middle and lower back, without restricting your arm or shoulder movements. Some high-back chairs have also been designed specifically to support the shoulders, head and neck.

Seat depth

Whilst seated, you should ideally be fully supported by the backrest. It's recommended you adjust the seat depth by moving the seat or backrest in and out so that you can reach the backrest, while reducing pressure on the back of your thighs.

Tilt

Tilting the seat widens the angle between your body and thighs, which sends more oxygen to your muscles and helps you to breathe better. Tilt the chair forwards or backwards until you find an angle you like and then simply lock it in place.

Armrests

Fixed armrests are fine for occasional use, but for extended use, adjustable armrests are better. Adjustable armrests not only help to reduce the strain on your wrists and shoulders, they also reduce the tendency to slouch into your chair. They can also be lowered so you can pull your chair closer to your desk and still stay sitting in a comfortable position. Padded armrests could help you avoid putting uncomfortable pressure on the undersides of your forearms and elbows.

Swivel

Most office chairs can swivel around 360° on their base, giving you excellent manoeuvrability. This makes it easy to reach other parts of your desk without twisting or injuring your back.

Material

Just as with your sofa at home, the material on the office chair seat and back should have enough padding to keep you comfortable for as long as you need. Office chairs can be upholstered with all sorts of different materials - for example, fabric upholstery is durable and easy to clean, mesh is comfortable and breathable helping to minimise the build up of heat, and leather is hard-wearing and luxurious.

Base

Sometimes, you'll need to turn around in your chair or move it somewhere. Chairs with a 5-wheeled star base are more stable than a 3-wheel base, particularly if you need to move around a lot. Castors on the base make it easy to manoeuvre the chair around; hard wheel castors (e.g. nylon) are best used on carpet and solid surfaces, while soft wheel castors (e.g. polyurethane - PU) work best on hardwood floors.

Headrests

A headrest can be particularly helpful for people who need extra neck or head support, such as those with back problems. They allow the muscles to relax and increase the blood flow. A headrest is usually only used when the chair is slightly reclined.

Taking a break

Remember, no matter which chair you buy, health and safety guidelines recommend taking a 5-10 minute break after 50-60 minutes' continuous screen time. In addition, if you're working with a keyboard a 15 minute break every two hours is recommended. Please visit the Health & Safety Executive site for more info.

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