Not too long ago your average office chair looked something like this:
But the world has changed, rapidly. Since the 1950s sedentary jobs have become much more common, rising by 83% in the United States. The rise of the computer has transformed the working world and most of us spend more time than ever sat in front of a desk. With a dramatic increase in remote working for 2020, and potentially long-term, this sedentary trend should continue.
Humans aren’t designed to sit for extended periods and so more time sitting down has necessitated a change in the humble office chair. Ergonomics is the study of the relationship between people and their environment, with the aim of improving efficiency and comfort. This thinking has transformed the design of both the office chair and our wider working environment.
The modern office chair features lumbar support to reduce back-pain, adjustable armrests to account for the position of your mouse and keyboard, a gas-powered lift function to alter the seats height, and wheels to move the seat around your office or home. You can see a range of the very best modern models on websites such as Lacasasibarita.
The materials used to make these chairs have also been refined. Chairs are lighter but more durable. The seat covers and padding have been improved too, they are made breathable and designed to be cleaned easily. The rise of online shopping has also necessitated manufacturers concentrate on producing chairs that are extremely easy to assemble.
The advantage of these designs is not always obvious on first sight but becomes apparent the more you use a well-designed ergonomic chair. Those who have suffered from lower back pain should quickly notice an improvement as the chair forces you to adopt a healthy posture while working.
Some of us have experienced pain in our wrists after a long day. An ergonomic chair should help here too. The ability to adjust the height of your armrests means you can support your arms and avoid straining muscles or repetition injuries.
The trend towards ergonomic chairs started earlier than you may think. In 1925 the Do/More posture chair was brought out, aiming to cure ailments and stop people from slouching. However, it wasn’t until the 90s that office chairs started to look close to our modern office staples. Since then, companies have continued to innovate and improve on their designs. Recently, we have seen kneeling chairs gain popularity too. These allow you to work while making the body work a little. They require a bit of core strength to use and can be uncomfortable at first.
In the 2010s we have also seen the rise of ergonomic chairs geared specifically to gamers. Like office workers, many gamers spend hours sat in front of a screen. Seats that can aid posture and encourage enough movement to stretch out muscles and relax your body are therefore just as important to gamers as office workers.
It might seem that we have refined the humble chair as far as we are able. It only takes a glance at the history of the ergonomic chair to see that we might be in for some more surprises yet.