How to Adjust an Office Chair (Plus Video)

How to Adjust an Office Chair

If you sit in an office chair for several hours every day, it’s important to ensure that it is adjusted properly. Sitting with the wrong posture affects your productivity. 

It also results in lifelong detrimental effects on your body like slipped discs and overstretched ligaments. You must use an office chair that you can easily adjust and can support your body.

Let’s look at these tips on how to adjust an office chair: You can also watch this video for quick instructions. 

Adjust the Chair Height

For height adjustment, most office chairs have a lever or paddle underneath the seat with up and down arrows. It can be on the right or left. Your hands shouldn’t be higher than your elbows.

That means the chair is too low. Stand in front of the chair and press the lever upwards or downwards until the seat surface is right below your kneecap.

You should be able to adjust the chair height to the point where your elbows can form a 90° angle at desk height. While you’re seated, your feet should be flat and the space between your calf and the front edge of the seat should fit a clenched fist.

Adjust the Recline and Tilt

Reclining in your office chair a couple of times a day is recommended because it relieves your spine from pressure.

Keep your chair at 110° recline while using your mouse and keyboard. There’s no harm in leaning even farther back throughout the workday. It enhances circulation in the body and redistributes pressure.

If your chair allows you to set the tilt tension, adjust it so that you can lean back comfortably with little force. Ensure that when you lean forward, the chair doesn’t leap upright with much force when you lean forward.

If you need to use a lot of force while leaning back, turn the knob to loosen the tension. Tighten it if you there’s no force at all moving you forward to get up when the chair is tilted backward.

Adjust the Backrest Angle

The backrest should support your back while you’re maintaining the correct sitting posture. You will need to adjust it if you have to lean uncomfortably forward or lean backward to feel it.

Most office chairs feature a tilt tension control knob underneath the chair towards the front. Turn the knob several times to loosen or tighten the tension until the backrest is at a comfortable angle.

Adjust the Back Height/Lumbar Support Feature

If lower back support is important to you, it’s possible to adjust your chair accordingly. With some office chairs, all you have to do is adjust the back height to achieve the required support. 

You’ll find a knob on the frame or stem of the backrest. Turn the knob to loosen it so that you can raise or lower the backrest until you feel firm support on your lower back.

​Some office chairs have a built-in lumbar support feature. It’s a small plastic attachment at the back of your chair which you can slide upwards and downwards. Make sure that it fits the natural arch of your lower back, right above the belt-line area.

Adjust the Seat Pan Depth

Although often overlooked, the importance of seat depth is second to seat height when it comes to office chair adjustments. It moves the seat pan forward or backward for an upright pelvic position. It’s important to note that not all ergonomic office seats have this adjustment, especially the inexpensive ones.

To adjust the seat pan depth, use the button or lever on the left of the seat. If the chair doesn’t have this button/lever, check for a bar-like feature underneath the seat at the front or a small lever in front, on the right.

Make sure that the space between the front edge of the seat and the back of your knee (when seated) is the size of a clenched fist.

Adjust the Armrests

If your armrests are not at the right height, your back and shoulders will suffer. Too high and you’ll shrug, too low and you’ll slouch.

To adjust your armrests, sit in an upright position and bend your elbows at a 90° angle. Locate the adjustment button on or under the armrests. Adjust the armrests so that they barely touch your elbows.

If you’re unable to adjust your armrests to the required height, remove them. Some chairs have armrests that slide towards and away from your body.

This will suit you no matter your body type. You can slide them in or out depending on your tasks. If you’re typing a long document, slide them in. If you’re using a mouse, you can slide them out.

Adjust the Headrest

A headrest is not essential for ideal ergonomics so most office chairs don’t have one. If you have a headrest, it should support your head and neck properly.

This is especially necessary while performing repetitive tasks like typing and reading where your head hardly moves.

Ill-fitting headrests can be harmful to you. If the headrest on your chair is not adjustable, it should fit your body height well. Generally, headrests are adjustable up to about 5 inches and may not be suitable if you’re on the shorter or taller end.

Your head should not lean backward or be pushed forward. The base of the back of your head should rest comfortably on the headrest.

Consider Your Desk

After adjusting your chair, test it with your desk. If you can’t fit your legs under the desk, it’s too low. If you have to raise your arms to use your keyboard or mouse, it’s too high. If your desk is adjustable, set it to the appropriate height for your chair.

Wrapping Up

Now that you know how to adjust an office chair, you can comfortably go about your office tasks throughout the day. With time, you can adjust the settings as your tastes, needs, and tasks change. 

The key to ensuring you can adjust your chair is that you invest in a good quality ergonomic chair. No matter how cheap or expensive your chair is, if you can’t adjust it, it won’t serve you well.

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