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While a common activity, sitting in chairs all day isn’t doing us any good. “The sitting position produces increased pressure on your discs” and adds stress to the discs, says physical therapist Susan Eb, PT, MS, founder of Eby Physical Therapy, PLLC in New York City, “and the more upright the position, the more the pressure.” Luckily, there are office chairs specifically designed to tackle back pain.

When looking for an office chair for back pain, consider whether it has lumbar support and adjustable features, such as an armrest or headrest. We researched dozens of chronic chairs for back pain and evaluated them for adjustable features, support, comfort, and price.

Here’s the best office chairs for back pain on the market.

Final Verdict

The Gabrylly Ergonomic Mesh Office Chair is a well-rounded option with nearly all of the features you would want in a desk chair: comfort and stability, lumbar support, adjustable height, and a flexible headrest. It also comes in at an affordable price point, making it the best choice for office workers simply looking for extra support.

If you’re especially concerned about lumbar support, we recommend the HOMEFUN Ergonomic Office Chair because it comes with a separate lumbar pillow that can be adjusted along the length of the chair’s backrest for personalized support.

How We Selected the Best Office Chairs for Back Pain

When selecting an office chair for back pain, we spoke with physical therapists and other experts and spent hours combing the web for the best and most effective products. After taking all of our options into consideration, we determined which to feature based on a few key criteria as recommended by dermatologists: cushion and frame materials, design, adjustability, and additional features.

Once we narrowed down our options, we compared each chair’s benefits to its price tag. While some choices on our list may be more expensive, we wanted to give a wide range of options that would fit all needs and budgets. Based on all of these factors, we compiled this list of the best office chairs for back pain.

What to Look for in Office Chairs for Back Pain

Make sure there’s padding – enough that there are no gaps when you sit back in the chair. Your low back needs a small curvature to prevent low back pain. Your shoulders should be against the back of the chair, and the back of the head should also be touching the back of the chair.

Adjustable height

Of all the features to consider, adjustable height might be the most important when it comes to long-term ergonomics; if your chair is too high or too low for your desk, your spine will end up curving or arching in an uncomfortable position (and your neck and shoulders will be affected, too).

“Height adjustability is key, both for individual comfort and for compatibility with the desk or work space,” says Eby. “When using a computer keyboard, your upper arms should rest at your side and your forearms should be parallel to the floor in order to prevent stress in your shoulders and neck.”

Eby adds that your feet should also rest flat on the floor, but this can be tricky for shorter people, especially once they’ve adjusted the chair height properly for the height of the desk. In this case, she suggests, you may want to get a foot rest or stool so your feet can sit flat.

Adjustable back rest

There are three ways the back of a chair can provide support, says Eby: with the location of lumbar support, the tilt of the backrest, and the depth of the seat. You may not be able to find a chair that’s adjustable for all three of these features, but you should definitely make sure your chair is adjustable for the one that affects you the most. In other words, people with low back pain should prioritize adjustable lumbar support, while petite people may want to focus on adjustable seat depth. People with more generalized needs can look for a chair with a flexible tilt to accommodate movement.

“Adjustable tilt of the backrest allows for a change of position while in the chair,” says Eby, “for example, a more upright position when using a computer and a more reclined position when on the phone or reading.”

arm support

Should you get a chair with armrests to support you all day long, or will they just get in the way of your comfort? It’s a tricky question, and even Eby admits armrests can be the most challenging feature of an office chair.

“Armrests provide upper body, shoulder, and neck support, [but they] must be positioned so that the chair can be pulled up fully under the desk,” she explains.

To get the support of armrests without any interference regarding the height of your chair or desk, Eby recommends finding a chair with adjustable armrests, so they can be raised or lowered to provide support where needed (without messing up the rest of your ergonomics).

Firm cushioning

Even though your office chair isn’t made for Netflix binges, it should still be comfortable, says Blessen Abraham, DC, of ​​Brunswick Health & Physical Therapy Center in New Jersey: “The first thing you need to find is a good, comfortable chair [that] supports your low back, buttock, thighs, upper back, and shoulders.”

Speaking of support, you’ll also want to find a chair that offers plenty, either in the way it contours to your body or in the density of its cushioning.

“I always recommend people to get a chair that’s a little bit firmer than softer, because you’re going to be sitting on it for a long time and usually the cushioning will wear out the softer it is,” Dr. Abraham explains.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What other ways can I prevent back pain throughout the workday?

    The best way to prevent back pain is to move throughout the day. “The human body is designed to move,” says Eby, “[so] no matter how good a chair you sit in, it’s important to stand up and move around every so often.”

    dr Abraham seconds this suggestion, saying that the best way to prevent back pain throughout the day is by just taking a break, getting off your chair once in a while, walking around, and stretching.

    He also recommends having a designated space just for work (if you’re working from home) and reserving your desk at the office just for work, not for your lunch break. This not only forces you to take breaks throughout the day, it allows your body to be positioned in other ways—like at the kitchen table rather than the desk for eight hours—and gives you the space your body needs to spread out in ergonomically- friendly ways.

  • What kinds of office chair materials provide the most support?

    Eby says the ideal office chair material is firm enough to support your body but with enough give or cushioning to be comfortable at the same time. It also helps if the material is breathable, so your body temperature stays comfortable, too. The most popular materials that meet these criteria are mesh, leather and fabric, she explains.

  • Why is it important to have a back supportive chair?

    If your spine is not well supported when sitting, you will tend to fall into positions that further stress the discs and stretch your tissues,” Eby explains. “Long-term, these positions can result in muscle imbalances and postural changes, with muscle shortening at the front of the hips, the chest, the pectoral area, and the back of the neck, and weakness [developing] in the gluteals, mid-back, and neck flexor muscles.”

    In other words, poor posture while sitting doesn’t just hurt your back, it literally changes your body—and not for the better. To combat this, anyone who sits at a desk on a consistent basis should invest in an ergonomic chair, especially if you suffer from back pain.

Why Trust Verywell Health

Sarah Bradley has been writing health content since 2017—everything from product roundups and illness FAQs to nutrition explainers and the dish on diet trends. She knows how important it is to receive trustworthy and expert-approved advice about over-the-counter products that manage everyday health conditions, from GI issues and allergies to chronic headaches and joint pain.

Additional reporting by Kayla Hui

Receiving her master’s degree in public health in 2020, Kayla Hui is a seasoned public health practitioner and health journalist. She has interviewed dozens of experts, reviewed numerous research studies, and tested a plethora of products to deliver well-researched product reviews and roundups. Her goal is to help readers make more informed decisions about their health and well-being.

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