What is an ergonomic chair and why do we need it?

ergonomic office chair that has mesh suspension

If you’ve been looking into getting a new office chair, we imagine you’ve seen the term ‘ergonomic’ crop up a few dozen times, and you may well be wondering what on earth it means.

Well, fear not, we’ll give you the complete lowdown on what an ergonomic chair is and why it’s worth checking them out.

First things first – what is it?

The word ergonomic comes from the Greek word ‘Ergon’, which means work and the Oxford Language definition of ergonomic is ‘relating to or designed for efficiency and comfort in the working environment.’

So in simpler terms, ergonomic means how comfortable the products are that you use in order to work and how that comfort aids in the efficiency of your work. So you would never refer to a bed as ergonomic, but you would refer to a keyboard, earphones or office furniture as being ergonomic.

It makes sense now that you’d want an office chair that would be ergonomic since comfort and support are pretty important for being productive at work. If you’re looking for a chair right away, check out our round-up of the best office chairs, but if you want to learn more continue with our guide to ergonomic chairs.

What features should a good ergonomic chair have?

The Right Material

The material is important for ensuring comfort, and that’s why mesh is often used with ergonomic chairs to ensuring breathability and flexibility. Since mesh has a springiness to it, you can lean back into your chair, and the material will hold you while bouncing back a little to give you support. Mesh is also a wonderful material for ensuring air flows through the chair, which will prevent certain areas of your body from becoming hot and stuffy.

It’s also a good idea to check out the amount of cushioning the seat has as well since a hard chair will only add more pressure to the spine and hips.

Back and lumbar support

This is perhaps the most crucial feature for a chair to be classed as ergonomic. Your back is complex, and having bad posture won’t do you any favours in the long run. You may end up with more pain and tension as well as stiffness. And not only is that a bit of a day ruiner, but it’s also not ideal when you’re sat in the same position for eight hours either.

You’ll often find that ergonomic chairs curve inwards at the bottom. This is to support the lumbar as your back naturally curves inwards. When you slouch, this curve is flattened, and so to ensure your back stays strong and upright in the position it’s supposed to be in naturally, it’s a priority that the seat curves inwards at the bottom.

The backrest should also follow the natural curve of your spine as well as being adjustable and 12 to 19 inches wide to ensure all of your back is fully supported rather than just the centre of it.


The ability to make a chair fit around your body is an important feature for an ergonomic chair. Nobody wants armrests that are too high or a headrest that’s too low. So ensuring that you can adjust the height, back-tilt and arms on your chair is a key feature for reaching a state of comfort and for your chair to be defined as ergonomic.

man leaning back in an ergonomic chair

Why buy an ergonomic chair?

Now, if you’re looking for a chair to put in your home office, the decision to invest in an ergonomic chair largely depends on how often you’ll be using it. If you’re occasionally at your desk, then maybe you don’t need to bother.

However, if you’re spending more than a few hours a week there, and especially if you work at your desk every day, then an ergonomic chair is pretty much essential in preventing short-term aches and long-term problems.

If you’re still not convinced, then it might be a good time to mention that back pain is a problem that’s on the rise, and the steps we take now will prevent a whole host of issues down the road. But if you needed a few more reasons…

Bad posture makes your back more susceptible to back problems and injuries, so it just makes good sense that you should try to support your back as much as possible to avoid these potential problems.
If you’ve had back pain before, these areas can be weaker and more prone to getting back pain in the future. And one of the aggregators of a weak spot is often.

Relieves pressure in hips

Whether it’s the added pressure caused by slouching or pressure from a hard chair, this can cause unnecessary pain in the hips. An ergonomic chair that’s deeply padded and supports the lumbar will prevent this pressure from occurring.

Stops neck ache

Neck pain seems an odd symptom from sitting down in a poor chair for too long, but not only will the tension from the spine spread up to your neck, but when you slouch, your head tends to be bent forward more, and this downwards angle creates more pressure on the neck to hold the weight up. Having a straight posture and a chair with added neck support will alleviate some of this pressure.

Boosts your mood

Nobody is ever in a good mood when they have back pain. Not only is it incredibly distracting, but it’s also very frustrating and often leads to struggling to sit still as well as getting a good nights sleep. If you’re working at your desk, you’re going to want to be focused and productive, and you can’t achieve either of these things if your back if constantly irritating you.

What’s the best ergonomic chair?

If you’re working from home, then save yourself the agro in the long run and buy an ergonomic office chair. Check out our round-up of the best office chairs right here. We recommend Herman Miller since the sophistication of their ergonomic design and the technology that has gone into these chairs is second to none. They really have thought of everything.

You’re not just investing in a chair; you’re investing in your back, and believe us, your body will thank you for it!

What is an ergonomic chair and why do we need one?