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Why You Need a Better Office Chair
Comments () | Published November 4, 2011

SADDLE SEAT
by Humanscale, $510

"I can see using this for an hour or two a day to practice good posture, but it's just too unforgiving," one editor said after using the saddle seat for a full day. Stephen Sarro, an ergonomics specialist at Sports & Spinal Physical Therapy, agrees. While this chair provides a lot of freedom to move around and sit close to your desk, over time the lack of back support will cause workers to overuse their back muscles in order to sit up straight. Our testers said it made them get up and walk around more often, but mostly because it was so uncomfortable.

KNEELING POSTURE OFFICE CHAIR
by Flash Furniture, $70 to $90

This kneeling chair is supposed to ease pressure on the lumbar spine by positioning the legs at a 60-degree angle instead of 90 degrees. "I like that this chair makes me sit up straight," one editor said. However, there were complaints of stress on the shins after kneeling all day, and longer breaks were necessary.

This chair was the least favorite of Gillanders, Sarro, and Heaps. Gillanders says that while keeping your legs tucked under the chair will prevent slouching, it also prevents movement: "Too often people assume one position with this chair and stay there." Another complaint: It was hard to stand up gracefully.


FITNESS BALL

by Bell Fit, $20 and Up

Fitness balls have become a popular substitute for office chairs. Studies have found that using the ball as a seat is recommended for people who have back pain, and in schools it's been shown to help students focus. Sarro likes the ball because it lets you shift positions easily and even do exercises throughout the day.

Our testers weren't happy with the lack of range of motion. "There's only so far you can roll before you fall over," one said. Another missed being able to lean back and prop his feet on his desk. And it was inconvenient having to fill the ball with air more than once a day.

Next: The winning office chair

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  • I can testify that this chair has solved my back pain problems. It is worth every penny I invested in it.

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Posted at 11:30 AM/ET, 11/04/2011 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Articles