The standard desk chair is by far the popular seating arrangement for office workers. We all know that chair. The one that swivels and sits on rollers. It has a little hydraulic lever that can adjust your height and has a back that leans way too far back when you lean.
Most of those office chairs don't provide what your body needs in order to sit for extended periods of time. Sitting weighs heavily on your body and you should have a chair that supports everything that needs to be supported.
But who wants a boring office chair? Alternative seating is all the rage these days, especially while working from the comfort of your own home (and we're not talking about working in bed, try not to do that). So we've gone through and rated some of the most popular alternative seating office chairs.
We've rated all of these chairs based on a few different factors:
Comfortability - this is pretty self-explanatory, how comfortable is the chair? Does it feel good when you're sitting in it?
Posture - does this chair promote a good, healthy posture?
Adjustability - can this chair adjust so that it will suit most people?
Price - is this chair affordable?
Practicality - this is probably the most complex category because it is the most subjective. But the essence is, does this chair make you look goofy? Is it a chair you could reasonably take to the office and it be socially acceptable and professional?
Now it's time to move on to the chairs.
To establish a baseline using something most people are familiar
with, we're going to start with the standard office chair. They're fairly comfortable, especially at first, because they have armrests and a backrest when you get tired and want to lean back. However, these chairs do not promote good posture. Now, that doesn't mean you can't be in good posture when you're in it, the chair itself doesn't do you any favors.
These chairs adjust quite a bit. They usually adjust the height and sometimes they even have lumbar support. The one main critique is that they often don't get to be high enough for people with long legs. When you're sitting, your legs should be at about 100 degrees with your hips slightly higher than your knees. So if you're pretty tall or have long legs, it may be difficult to find a chair that will get high enough.
As far as price, these chairs range from pretty cheap to really, really expensive. You can find a classic rollie chair on Amazon for about $40, but some can cost in the thousands if you want a fancy ergonomic chair.
And of course, being the office norm, this kind of chair is extremely practical.
Overall, we're ranking this chair a 7.5/10!
Now moving on to our first chair in the alternative seating category!
To start, we are going to look at Swiss ball or yoga ball.
First thing's first, is it comfortable? It's pretty squishy when you sit on it which can feel nice on your rear end, but there's not a lot of support with the yoga ball. It rolls around quite a bit and you have to really work your core and leg muscles to keep yourself steady and upright. It might be comfortable at first, but without any support, this can get very tiring on your body very quickly. It does, to an extent, promote better posture, because you can't sit in a funky or wonky position without falling off.
To make it a little more stable and easier on your body, you can purchase a base with the ball. This helps to hold it in place so you don't have to work as hard at being stable.
This chair is not the most adjustable. The only real adjustment you can make is how full you pump it with air. They're also very reasonably priced, even if you choose to purchase a base with it. Another thing to consider about it is the practicality. Although many workplaces have begun to accept alternative seating, it may not be the best choice of chair for a big corporate meeting
Overall, the yoga ball is getting a 7/10!
Up next, the kneeling chair!
These are surprisingly comfortable. Just looking at it, it may not seem like it would feel good to sit in. But wow does it give you support where you never knew you needed it. And while being pretty comfortable for what it is, it really promotes good posture. It's actually hard to sit on this comfortably in bad posture. It makes sure your hips, knees and back are in a good alignment while also being relaxed.
The chair isn't very easy to adjust and only really has one adjustment you can make, which is up and down. You can make it a little higher or lower it depending on your preference and what keeps you in good posture.
These retail for about $100 depending on what brand you get and how many bells are whistles are attached. Another kneeling chair that rocks back and forth exists, but it comes at a higher cost.
This chair is very easily disguised and doesn't take up any more space than would a standard office chair. Once again, if you're in a corporate office setting, maybe it's not for you. But if you work in a cubicle or a private office, this seems to be a very practical choice of seat.
The kneeling chair is getting an 8/10!
Last but certainly not least, we have a rolling stool.
We use Brewer stools here at Rehab and Revive. All the staff and physical therapists sit on these throughout the day. The cushions are very comfortable. It's cushiony but you don't sink into it too much. It's important to find a stool with a good quality cushion. That can make or break your purchase.
These stools are moderately good for posture. They do not have a backrest so you can't slouch too much. They can also promote the proper pelvic tilt which can be a game-changer for people who have hip pain when they sit for a long time. These chairs do roll thought, so if you're sitting toward the front of the chair, which maintaining good posture would require, it may feel like the stool is going to roll out from under you. So be cautious if you're on a more slick surface like wood or tile. Carpet gives more friction and makes it a little harder for the wheels to slide out from under you. We don't let patients sit on these chairs because it does require a fair amount of strength to keep it steady.
The stools are only moderately adjustable. They can only really go up and down. It costs around $300 for the Brewer stool, but you can find other brands for much cheaper. We like the Brewer stools because they have a very wide base and are made from really great quality materials. But these are certainly not the only stools out there. Amazon alone has a ton of options that are significantly cheaper than $300.
These chairs are also pretty practical as far as appearance goes, but maybe not so much if you're constantly worried about it falling out from under you on a slick surface.
Overall, we give the stool a 6.5 out of 10!
Keep in mind that one of these alternative office chairs doesn't work for everyone. You have to take your own circumstances into consideration when picking a chair. But maybe this breakdown gives you just enough information that you can make an informed decision without having to invest in all of them and trying them by trial and error!
Let us know what kind of office chair you have and why you like it! We'd love to hear what all of you have been sitting on and how it's been working for you.
Remember, we heal smarter, not harder!
Dr. Justin C. Lin