Best Ergonomic Office Chair for Lower Back Pain

Back Pain Relief for Desk Jockeys

Best Ergonomic Office Chair for Lower Back Pain
Last updated:

This review uses standards established using ergonomic studies and health and safety standards to evaluate the quality of office chairs for their ability to alleviate lower back pain and prevent pain from occurring in the first place. Starting from a scientific perspective helps us provide you with high-quality recommendations.

Our review also dispels a couple of myths that are often repeated by media sources. We link to original research to support our findings so you can verify the information we share with you.

Lower back pain can be caused or worsened by spending time in an office chair that is not well suited to your shape. Your office chair should support your back to avoid lower back pain.

Quick Chart of Best Office Chair Winners

If you’re short on time, this chart of our winners can help you make a quick decision. More detailed information is provided later in this article.

Name Best in This Category Why it Wins Price Range Official Site
Smugdesk Ergonomic Office Mesh Affordable Ergonomic Checks Most of the boxes $ Smugdesk Mesh
Homall High Back Best Affordable Elegant Chair Affordable Elegance $ Homall High Back
Alera Elusion Mid-Back Amazon BestChoice Checks all the boxes $$ Alera
Office Factor Burgundy Best ergonomic décor-matching Checks almost all the boxes $$ Office Factor
KADIRYA High Back   Executive Affordable Executive Checks almost all the boxes $$ KADIRYA High Back Executive 
Big and Tall 500 lb Executive Best Big and Tall Comfort and Sturdy $$  Big and Tall 500lb Executive
Duramount Ergonomic Up to 300 pounds Checks almost all the boxes $$ Duramount Ergonomic
VERTAGEAR S-Line SL2000 Gaming Chair Comfortable for long durations Checks all the boxes $$$ VERTAGEAR S-Line SL2000
Eurotech Ergo Elite High Back Most Adjustable Checks almost all the boxes $$$$ Eurotech Ergo Elite High Back Chair
Herman Miller Aeron Best Ergonomic Durability and Proven Brand $$$$$ Herman Miller Aeron Chair
DRAGONN Ergonomic Kneeling Best Kneeling Chair Amazon Best Choice $ DRAGONN Ergonomic Kneeling

Health and Safety Standards for Best Office Chairs

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and HFES (The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society) create workplace safety standards which state the following:

“…Workstation furniture shall …. Be structurally rigid and stable under typical usage conditions…”

Federal Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) standards and twenty-two states mandate safety standards for private and public employees.  OSHA’s site provides four examples of healthy working positions including reclined, upright, standing, and declined seating that should be considered when you purchase office chairs.

As a private employer, you’re not under a mandate to provide ergonomic workstations, however, you do have a duty to avoid environmental hazards. Ergonomic hazards are considered a serious hazard under OSHA’s General Duty Clause (§5(a)(1)). As an employer, you want to avoid muscular-skeletal disorders stemming from working at awkward angles (such as office chairs that don’t allow a full, comfortable range of motion or ones that don’t support the arms or spine, or chairs that are too high to be comfortable).

Considering the ergonomics of your worker’s environments isn’t just to prevent injuries to your employees. Doing so can improve productivity, morale, efficiency, and reduce worker’s compensation expenses resulting from on-the-job injuries, including repetitive motion injuries.

Features to Consider

To determine the features an office chair should have, especially one that will help avoid low back pain, we looked at the relevant Department of Defense regulations, OSHA’s ergonomic requirements, and OSHA’s checklist.

The backrest should engage the lumbar and thoracic regions of the back and support the torso in a way that allows the person using the chair to see their work without moving more than 3-inches forward.

  • Larger backrests are preferred because they allow more options for position changes.
  • Cushioning is required in chairs where the worker must sit for more than an hour or more than 20% of their workday.
  • Footrests shall be provided if the chair will be used for extended periods of time and the seat is higher than 18 inches. The footrest should have a non-skid surface.
  • The material used for the chair must breathe.
  • There are a variety of requirements related to the ability of the chair to adjust to suit the user as illustrated below:

office chair

Additional requirements relating to the size of specific areas include:

office chair

We summarized the major factors and compared each office chair we reviewed for its ability to reduce low back pain against the recommended criteria in this chart.

people in office

The ideal situation is one where you don’t give your office chair any thought at all during the day because you’re comfortable because you aren’t experiencing low back pain.

Choosing a Budget

If you’re experiencing low back pain, there are several factors you should take into account when you choose an office chair you’ll use frequently. The price of pain cannot be quantified. Pain reduces the quality of life you experience and because dealing with pain often makes us irritable, it can diminish the quality of our relationships. Finally, the opioid epidemic shows us the awful impact dealing with pain can have on the life of someone who experiences chronic pain.

Consider the expected life of the chair and how many hours a day you’ll use it when you evaluate how much to spend.

Our Recommendations

Alera Elusion Mid-Back  

 

This affordable chair has lumbar support that you can move up and down by raising or lowering the mesh back.

Scores: Alera Elusion Mid-Back

Seat Height

15” – 21”

Seat Width

Min 18”

Rear Tilt? 0° – 7° Seat Cushioning Seat Depth

16”

14” – 20” 21” Yes Padded cushions 21”
Lumbar Support Adjustable Lumbar Support Recline

100° – 115°

Back Width

Min 12” – 14”

Waterfall? Alera Elusion Mid-Back

Alera Elusion Mid-Back 690 reviewsAlera Elusion Mid-BackAn Amazon’s Choice chair at a reasonable price.

The waterfall edge allows greater circulation in your legs, which is healthier. Although some people weren’t ecstatic about this chair, there are many people who “love, love this chair.” including individuals who spend all day in the chair and many who wrote their reviews after months of use.

Check Current Price

Office Factor

Best ergonomic décor-matching chair.

After reviewing chairs for over a week, I’ve lost track of the number of times a chair being evaluated to see if it was worthy of our recommendation had something that knocked it out of the running. These come in a variety of colors. One benefit of working at home is not having basic black for your chair.

Office Factor

There were only five reviews for the burgundy chair, so I looked at Office Factor’s other chairs and found consistently high reviews.

Many reviewers who have experienced $1,000 chairs at work compared Office Factor favorably to those chairs. The ergonomic design of this office chair is good for individuals who experience low back pain.

Scores: Office Factor Burgundy Chair

Seat Height

15” – 21”

Seat Width

Min 18”

Rear Tilt? 0° – 7° Seat Cushioning Seat Depth

16”

14” – 20” 21” Yes Padded cushions  19”
Lumbar Support Adjustable Lumbar Support Recline

100° – 115°

Back Width

Min 12” – 14”

Waterfall? Office Factor Chair Burgundy
Yes Just height Yes Yes Yes
Armrest

7.5” – 11”

Space between Arm Rests

18” min

Armrest size

8” long, 2” wide

Weight Chair Supports Price
Not Adj. Yes Yes 250 lbs. $$

Their customer service is responsive, and you can return the chair for a refund if it doesn’t work for you.

Check Current Price

Smugdesk 0581F Ergonomic Mesh

Scores: Smugdesk 0581F Ergonomic Mesh

Seat Height

15” – 21”

Seat Width

Min 18”

Rear Tilt? 0° – 7° Seat Cushioning Seat Depth

16”

Variable Appears OK Yes High density upholstery – comfortable Appears OK
Lumbar Support Adjustable Lumbar Support Recline

100° – 115°

Back Width

Min 12” – 14”

Waterfall? Smugdesk
Yes No Yes, and it rocks Yes No
Armrest

7.5” – 11”

Space between Arm Rests

18” min

Armrest size

8” long, 2” wide

Weight Chair Supports Price
Yes Yes Width – yes

Length – Unknown

250 lbs. $

This economical chair provides a highly affordable office chair for people of average height. Because the lumbar support doesn’t adjust, we hesitate to recommend it for very tall or short people.

You get a lot of chair for the price. One reviewer said, “I’ve paid a lot more for a lot less chair.” The warranty covers quality issues, but there is no comfort guarantee.

The rear tilt, adjustable arms, office chair height, and lumbar support work together to help you with lower back pain.

Check Current Price

Homall High Back

Best Affordable Elegant and Comfortable Chair

This elegant office chair has excellent reviews, and a surprisingly affordable price. The arms aren’t adjustable, but other than that it is a great chair.

Scores:   Homall High Back  

Seat Height

15” – 21”

Seat Width

Min 18”

Rear Tilt? 0° – 7° Seat Cushioning Seat Depth

16”

Adj. 21”  Yes Thick, comfy padding 19.2”
Lumbar Support Adjustable Lumbar Support Recline

100° – 115°

Back Width

Min 12” – 14”

Waterfall? Homall High Back
Yes No Just 110° 21” Semi
Armrest

7.5” – 11”

Space between Arm Rests

18” min

Armrest size

8” long, 2” wide

Weight Chair Supports Price
Yes

Not Adj

Yes Yes 300 lbs. $

You can rock or lock the tilt. This chair is so pretty that you could use them in your breakfast nook.

Homall office chair high back computer desk chair

If you want more family time, consider replacing your nook chairs with comfortable rolling chairs that will encourage lingering after your meal.

At under $100, it’s worth a chance. You can return it during the first 30 days if it doesn’t work for you.

Runner up: If you prefer a black chair, for a little more money you can buy the Amazon Basics High Back Executive Chair

Check Current Price

 

VERTAGEAR S-Line SL2000

This gaming chair is a great office chair for low back pain. It comes in basic black if you need a staid color, but it also has fun color options for those who are not limited to bland choices.

Scores:  VERTAGEAR S-Line SL2000

Seat Height

15” – 21”

Seat Width

Min 18”

Rear Tilt? 0° – 7° Seat Cushioning Seat Depth

16”

Yes Yes, Bucket Yes Memory Foam Yes
Lumbar Support Adjustable Lumbar Support Recline

100° – 115°

Back Width

Min 12” – 14”

Waterfall? VERTAGEAR S-Line SL2000
Yes Yes 80° – 140° Yes No
Armrest

7.5” – 11”

Space between Arm Rests

18” min

Armrest size

8” long, 2” wide

Weight Chair Supports Price
Yes 19” Yes 330 lbs.

Recommended 240 lbs.

$$$

At the low end of the $$$ price range, this chair offers a non-traditional approach with snazzy colors. It is designed to be comfortable for gamers who spend a lot of time in the chair. It is an ideal office chair for someone with low back pain. It also reclines, which allows you to rest your back.

If you don’t like bucket seats, this chair won’t be for you. Use a foot stool to ease pressure from the bottom of your thighs and help your blood circulation.

VERTAGEAR S-Line SL2000-WP S-Line 2000

VERTAGEAR

Check Current Price

KADIRYA High Back Bonded Leather Executive

Scores:  KADIRYA High Back Bonded Leather Executive

Seat Height

15” – 21”

Seat Width

Min 18”

Rear Tilt? 0° – 7° Seat Cushioning Seat Depth

16”

Varies 20.7” Yes  

Nicely padded

19.1”
Lumbar Support Adjustable Lumbar Support Recline

100° – 115°

Back Width

Min 12” – 14”

Waterfall? KADIRYA High Back Bonded Leather Executive
Yes No Yes 20.7 Yes
Armrest

7.5” – 11”

Space between Arm Rests

18” min

Armrest size

8” long, 2” wide

Weight Chair Supports Price
Yes Yes Yes 250 lbs. $$

They offer a 30-day trial during which you can return it if it doesn’t work well for you.

KADIRYA High Back Bonded Leather Executive Office chair 382 reviews

The main problem with this chair is that the armrests have a fixed position and if that position isn’t comfortable for you, the chair won’t be the best choice for you. The arms do fold out of the way, which is nice.

It is a nice-looking executive chair for a great price. However, be careful. I saw one seller offering this at three times the price of another seller.

This executive office chair is comfortable for people of many sizes and will ease low back pain.

 

High-Back Big and Tall 500lb Executive

If you want a chair that will accommodate a large or tall body, or a large tall body, or you have a buddy who insists on sharing your chair and need room for two, this chair will give you all the room you need.

dog

Protect the leather from sharp claws.

Scores:   High-Back Big and Tall 500 lb Executive Chair

Seat Height

15” – 21”

Seat Width

Min 18”

Rear Tilt? 0° – 7° Seat Cushioning Seat Depth

16”

Adj. 28.5” Yes Thick, with springs 31.5”
Lumbar Support Adjustable Lumbar Support Recline

100° – 115°

Back Width

Min 12” – 14”

Waterfall? High-Back Big and Tall 500 lb Executive Chair
Yes No Yes 28.5 Yes
Armrest

7.5” – 11”

Space between Arm Rests

18” min

Armrest size

8” long, 2” wide

Weight Chair Supports Price
Yes Yes Yes 500 lbs. $$

Big and Tall office chair 62 reviewsCustomers who reviewed this chair repeatedly expressed delight with their purchase due to its sturdiness, lack of noise, and comfort.

Many had prior experience with other big and tall chairs that cost two or three times as much and preferred this one.

People around 5’4” and above should find it comfortable.

This chair is made to last while bearing significant weight.

Big and Tall Runner Up: Wide Seat Executive 

Eurotech Ergo Elite High Back

Despite its higher price, this office chair will be worth it to those seeking relief from low back pain for whom simpler solutions haven’t solved the problem. The ability to adjust every aspect of the chair makes this chair good for nearly everyone.

Eurotech Ergo Elite High Back

The angle of the back, tilt tension control, headrest height and tilt, armrest height and position, and seat height are adjustable. The seat and back tilt in sync with each other.

Scores:   Ergo Elite High Back (ME22ERGLT)

Seat Height

15” – 21”

Seat Width

Min 18”

Rear Tilt? 0° – 7° Seat Cushioning Seat Depth

16”

18.1 – 21.6” 19.88” Yes  Comfortable 19.29”
Lumbar Support Adjustable Lumbar Support Recline

100° – 115°

Back Width

Min 12” – 14”

Waterfall? Ergo Elite High Back 6 reviews
 Yes Yes Yes 12.8” Yes
Armrest

7.5” – 11”

Space between Arm Rests

18” min

Armrest size

8” long, 2” wide

Weight Chair Supports Price
Yes Yes Yes 250 lbs. $$$$

Herman Miller Chairs

Herman Miller produces high-end office chairs that improve low back pain. We have a Herman Miller that is more than a decade old and still comfortable.

When you consider the durability of the chair and the pain relief (which I consider priceless), it was a wise purchase. Our chair is leather and even after a decade, it is still a good-looking chair.

Herman Miller Aeron (Best Ergonomic Office Chair)

Scores:   Herman Miller Aeron

Seat Height

15” – 21”

Seat Width

Min 18”

Rear Tilt? 0° – 7° Seat Cushioning Seat Depth

16”

See chart See chart Yes Flexible Mesh See Depth
Lumbar Support Adjustable Lumbar Support Recline

100° – 115°

Back Width

Min 12” – 14”

Waterfall? Herman Miller Aeron
 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Armrest

7.5” – 11”

Space between Arm Rests

18” min

Armrest size

8” long, 2” wide

Weight Chair Supports Price
6.8 – 10.8” Yes Yes See Chart $$$$$

Herman Miller Aeron 51 reviewsHerman Miller comes with a 12-year warranty and stands behind their products over the long-haul. You can contact the customer support team and they will help you determine which version and options suit your needs the best.

Be sure that the seller you choose is a Certified Herman Miller dealer selling new products acquired directly from the Herman Miller manufacturer. If you buy from a seller who has a different arrangement, you may not get the benefit of the warranty. Although you probably won’t need it, its important to have a good warranty when you spend this much on a product.

Herman Miller Aeron (Best Ergonomic Office Chair)

The Herman Miller Aeron comes in three sizes. Each size is available in three colors.

Size A Size B Size C
Height 4’10” – 5’9” 5’2” – 6’6” 5’3” – 6’6”
Weight 90 – 150 pounds 130 – 325 pounds 180 – 350 pounds
Total Height 38.5″ 41″ 43″
Seat Height 14.75-19″ 16-20.5″ 16-20.5″
Width 25.75″ 27″ 28.25″
Depth 16″ 16.75″ 18.5″

Choose the options you want including a tilt limiter, leather or mesh, adjustable arms, and other options.

Duramount Ergonomic

Includes a 90-day trial during which you can return the chair if you don’t like it. That’s a much better option than sitting in a chair in a store for a few minutes. Even if you take a book to the store and sit for a few hours, it doesn’t compare to trying the chair in your own home for up to three months.

Scores:   Duramount Ergonomic

Seat Height

15” – 21”

Seat Width

Min 18”

Rear Tilt? 0° – 7° Seat Cushioning Seat Depth

16”

Adj 21” Yes Padded 21”
Lumbar Support Adjustable Lumbar Support Recline

100° – 115°

Back Width

Min 12” – 14”

Waterfall? Duramount Ergonomic
Yes Yes 90° – 120° Yes Yes
Armrest

7.5” – 11”

Space between Arm Rests

18” min

Armrest size

8” long, 2” wide

Weight Chair Supports Price
Yes Yes Yes 330 lbs. $$

Duramount Ergonomic adjustable office chair with lumbar support 245 reviewsIndividuals with a wide range of heights, from a few inches under 5’ to 6’4” report that they find this chair very comfortable.

The ability to make adjustments during assembly is engineered into the chair including the width of the arm rests and the depth of the seat.

Out of the Box Options

DRAGONN Ergonomic Kneeling Chair (Best Kneeling Chair)

DRAGONN Ergonomic Kneeling Chair (Best Kneeling Chair)

One out of the box option is a kneeling chair that shifts your posture and where pressure points are concentrated. If you must sit for a long time and sitting causes you pain, changing the way you sit can give your body a rest.

While sitting, or rather, kneeling in this chair, the pressure shifts from your back and butt to your shins and the bottom of your thighs.

DRAGONN Ergonomic Kneeling Chair 400 reviews

Using this chair will build muscles in your core so expect some muscle soreness as your body adjusts.

Reports of lowered back and neck pain are common. Some users reported experiencing shin pain, but most did not. Adjust the seat height to change the pressure on your shins.

Individuals between 5’ and 6’2” reported positive experiences. The weight limit is 250 pounds. Two of the wheels lock, which is a nice safety feature.

 Are Ball Chairs Beneficial?

Are Ball Chairs Beneficial?

Lemming-like behavior has led to widespread misinformation in the use of balance balls as chairs as a way to offset the negative health effects of prolonged sitting. It is common to read recommendations that suggest using a balance ball is healthier than using a chair and that sitting on a balance ball strengthens your core.

There are several problems with this advice.

First, the scientific evidence doesn’t support the conclusion. A study published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health published Unstable Sitting in the Workplace – Are there Physical Activity Benefits? in 2015, they reported the following findings:

  • The difference in energy expended during active or dynamic sitting on a ball beyond that expended on a standard stable chair is minimal. Claims that using a ball will lead to weight loss and greater core strength are false.
  • University of Waterloo researchers did not detect greater muscle activity in the trunk of individuals sitting on a stability ball when they were compared to sitting on a stool without a backrest.
  • One study reported that individuals who were active sitting on an exercise ball experienced increased spinal shrinkage.
  • Emergency room personnel report that the use of exercise balls is a safety concern due to falls and associated injuries.

What about Standing Desks?

Standing is one of the four OSHA recommended workstation options. However, the guidelines are clear that standing by itself is not adequate. Standing desks must have a seated option.

What about Standing Desks

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who have disabilities. Under some scenarios, employers who are asked to provide a standing desk may be required to do so by the ADA.

The ADA doesn’t require you to offer reasonable accommodations if they will reduce productivity. A recent study indicates that reading and creative tasks are not influenced by “. . . acute standing desk use.” Productivity doesn’t decrease when a standing desk is used. On the other hand, current evidence doesn’t show that standing desks provide meaningful benefits. Despite the lack of evidence, the American Medical Association (AMA) is encouraging employers to provide standing desks to reduce sedentary behavior. Providing a standing desk doesn’t necessarily lead to a great reduction in sitting time.

Are Treadmill Desks Safe?

Treadmill desks may provide better improvements in health. However, they can pose liability issues for employers due to accidents or injuries. For this reason, we recommend you have your corporate counsel draft a Treadmill Desk Waiver before allowing any employee to use a treadmill desk. The Treadmill Desk Release should include:

  • A waiver and release of liability
  • Participation can be hazardous, and the employee is voluntarily participating
  • An affirmation that the employee doesn’t have an illness, infirmity, or other disability that make using the treadmill desk ill-advised
  • Suggestion that employees obtain physician approval and the option to waive the requirement

Treadmill desks result in modest declines in productivity. The decline may become negligible after an expected adjustment period. Some tasks did not experience decline as the result of the use of a treadmill desk including executive thinking, cognitive control, conflict adaption, response inhibition, and post-error slowing.

Employers should have the vendor they purchase treadmill desks from provide training and document that your staff are trained.

Are Cycling Desks an Option?

Cycling desks maintain a seated position but allow movement of the legs. Cycling desks have a positive impact on cognitive performance, and a positive impact on post meal insulin levels without decrements in work performance.

How about No-Desk Options?

Ergonomically, there are some options that don’t involve a desk at all. Some people who have shoulder injuries that are aggravated by sitting at a desk find that a recliner provides a pain-free position to use a laptop. With proper back support, an upholstered chair or sofa with raised legs can also be more comfortable than sitting upright at a desk.

Workplaces could consider these options to accommodate someone who has injuries. At-home workers and freelancers can consider these options for themselves. In paperless environments, the necessity of a desk has diminished. OSHA doesn’t apply to remote workers who work in their own home but that doesn’t mean the employer should neglect ergonomics for their work-at-home staff.

Research

What does Public Health have to do with Ergonomics?

Public Health is a branch of science focused on improving the health of the population as a whole. Public Health researchers work hard to understand how mindset, behavior, and lifestyles affect the health of populations.

In order to present accurate and reliable information, we sought information from reliable public health sources and other researchers instead of relying on secondary news sources.

Once one comes up with something snazzy and attention-grabbing, like “Sitting is the new smoking” other media outlets follow, like lemmings. It can create a domino effect that leads the public to believe misinformation to the detriment of their health.

picture

Is Sitting the New Smoking?

First and foremost, the message that sitting is the new smoking is a falsehood. It’s the media sensationalizing research with a catchy phrase to grab your attention. Being sedentary is not the healthiest way to live but sitting doesn’t come close to the dangers of smoking.

Excess deaths are avoidable deaths. Sitting is responsible for less than 10% of the deaths attributable to smoking.

Sitting is not the new somking

Amid calls for Public Health guidelines for sedentary behavior, an article in the British Journal of Medicine concluded that it is premature to establish guidelines.

Sitting for prolonged periods of time is associated with dysfunction of the musculoskeletal system that can lead to pain.

Office Chair Comfort Accessories

Everlasting Comfort Memory Support Lumbar Cushion

Everlasting Comfort Memory Support Lumbar Cushion

Lumbar support pillows can be added to any existing office chair, car, or recliner to provide lumbar support that will ease lower back pain or prevent it from developing in the first place. Everlasting Comfort comes with a lifetime replacement warranty which puts it at the top of our recommendations. A good ergonomic chair that fits your body well is the best option but if it isn’t in the budget, a lumbar pillow will help.

Runner Up: LoveHome Memory Foam Lumbar Support Cushion

20″ Chrome Foot-rest Ring

20" Chrome Foot-rest Ring

Adding a foot-rest ring to your chair can increase your comfort, especially if your legs are short.

Office Desk Caster Wheels

Office Desk Caster Wheels

If the wheels that come with your chair aren’t high quality, or you’re concerned about them on your hardwoods, you can easily swap them out for these casters that are safe for hardwoods.

Memory Foam Office Chair Armrest Pads

Memory Foam Office Chair Armrest Pads

Rigid plastic armrests can be uncomfortable. Adding padded armrest covers to increase the comfort your arms feel when you use the chair, especially if you spend a lot of time in the chair. They have the added benefit of being easily removed for cleaning.

 Back to our Quick Chart of Winners

Related:

Send this to a friend