Maintaining good posture is one of the most important things that we can do to help our bodies stay healthy. A correctly aligned and supported spine helps keep our body from holding tension painfully in our necks or lower backs. Good posture helps too, literally, unfold us and take the pressure off our internal organs. A huge plus for all concerned with their appearance, good posture helps to make us look leaner and more in shape than hunched or tense positions. Given the number of hours that most of us spend in a chair sitting at a computer, the importance of finding an ergonomically-designed chair that correctly supports your seated posture is paramount.

Before buying an ergonomically designed chair, it is important to understand what correct seated posture includes. While seated, your lap should be level, so that a line drawn from the middle of your hip through your knee would be perfectly horizontal. Your chair should support your back and the natural curve of your lower spine. Beware of the tendency to hunch forward and curve your back. Some people find that they are most able to maintain correct posture in chairs that have high backs they can lean into; others find that they tend to lean away from higher backed chairs, causing further problems with their posture.

Evaluate your own body and habits before deciding which is best for you. If considering arm rests on your chair, be aware that the proper height for an arm rest will be only slightly lower than your elbow. If the arm rests are too low, you will slouch to reach them; if the arm rests are too high, your shoulders will be pushed up and toward your ears when you use them. Remember the proper alignment for your body when looking for chairs.

Now that you are comfortable with recognizing good seated posture, it is time to consider the qualities you should look for in a chair that can support that posture. Adjustability is probably the most important quality of an ergonomically designed chair. Without being able to change its dimensions to your specific needs (both for your body and your environment), you will find it nearly impossible to locate the ideal chair. You should be able to adjust the height of the chair and preferably the angles of the seat and back. If arm rests are included on the chair, check to see if they can be either adjusted (to move higher and lower) or removed in case they are not properly placed for your body.

Check also to make sure that all adjustable pieces have a lock attached so that they can be held firmly in the position of your choosing. Most ergonomic chairs also swivel and are on wheels; the added mobility of the chair helps you maintain your posture while increasing your seated range of motion. The back of the chair should be of the correct height for you (or adjustable) and have a built-in or attached lumbar support to help maintain proper positioning for your spine. Finally, the seat of the chair should also be comfortable and padded; hard seating surfaces can put pressure on your body.

A number of guides to specific ergonomic chairs also give dimensions to look for when shopping for a chair. Typically, it is recommended that seats be about a foot and a half wide; chair backs should be between a foot and 21 inches (a foot and ¾) wide. Suggestions for seat depth vary greatly.

Though it will certainly be helpful to know the measurements of chairs if shopping online or through a catalog, there is truly no way to tell if a chair works well for you without actually sitting in it. Especially when starting to shop for an ergonomic chair, make sure to go and test out a number of them; your back and body will thank you.

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