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Last Updated on March 7, 2022

Are you one of the millions of people suffering from back pain? It’s estimated that the direct healthcare expenditure for low back pain is anywhere from $50 to $90.7 billion annually [1].

Do you want to get to the bottom of what’s causing it?

Many people suffer from back pain after spending hours and hours sitting at work. Wondering if it’s the poor-quality office chair that’s causing you excruciating pain?

By the end of this article, you will learn what could be causing your back pain at work.

Back Pain? Maybe Your Cheap Office Chair is to Blame…

Yes and no. While your office chair could be 100% to blame for your back pain, it’s likely a bunch of contributing factors that are leading to it.

Getting a high-quality office chair is one of the best things you can do to improve your office setup to minimize the potential for back pain.

There are certain chairs in the marketplace that can deliver good ergonomics. The key is finding one that you can sit in for long periods comfortably and with proper posture.

Is Your Office Chair Leading To Back Pain?

a woman holding her bad back

1. Is It Adjustable?

This is perhaps the most important point when you are trying to isolate whether or not your office chair is the root cause of your back pain. If your chair isn’t adjustable, swapping it out could likely improve your situation.

Having an office chair without proper adjustments can be one of the leading contributors to your back pain. After all, it’s highly unlikely the chair came directly from the manufacturer optimized for your unique body shape and size. As a result, you need to identify a chair that can be adjusted to account for the length of your torso, legs, and even arms.

If your chair isn’t adjustable, it needs to be swapped out for one that is. If your chair is adjustable, be sure that you are utilizing the adjustability of it to optimize it for your setup.

  • Arms and Elbows

The first thing you need to adjust when you are looking to improve your office chair’s ergonomics is the armrests. You need to factor your arm length and how high up you need the armrests to properly support your shoulders.

Without having the armrests at the optimal position, you will place far too much strain on your shoulders and upper back area. It will also make it much more likely that you end up slouching in your chair.

By improving the alignment of the armrests and by measuring out your arm length, you can adjust everything from the distance between you and the desk and the height of your keyboard.

  • Height

Another important adjustment to make when you are looking to improve your office chair ergonomics is the height of the chair. The height of the chair is important because it needs to fit the desk you are using.

It also needs to ensure that your hips are in complete alignment.

The height of your chair can impact various muscles in your legs and lower back. Without placing your chair at the optimal height, you are bound to experience excess tension in these areas. These things can result in greater back pain than normal.

  • Eye Level

Your office chair is also going to dictate how well you can look at your monitor. Unless you have an adjustable desk or monitor arm, your office chair will dictate how you have to bend your neck to look at the monitor.

You want to have a resting eye level with the center of your monitor. If you situate your monitor too high or low, it will cause more strain than should be necessary on your neck and back.

This can contribute to experiencing more back pain than normal.

2. Does It Have Lumbar Support?

an office chair with lumbar support

Another key area that you need to look at when you are trying to figure out if your office chair is contributing to back pain is whether or not it offers the lumbar support you need.

Ideally, you want a chair that has the requisite lumbar support that you will need to get in a comfortable seated position that allows you to maintain optimal posture. Slouching is one of the main contributing factors to experiencing back pain after being seated for too long.

You need to look for an office chair that has ample lumbar support.

A lot of office chairs have lumbar cushioning to deliver this support. Your butt should be placed fully towards the back of the chair and there should be something near that area that causes your back to naturally arch. Arching your back towards the bottom ensures that you don’t slouch your shoulders forward and tilt your neck in the same direction.

LOOKING FOR A CHAIR WITH LUMBAR SUPPORT? Herman Miller and X Chair are two solid choices

If you do this, you will be placing more pressure on your upper back and neck area than you should be. This can lead to back pain and neck pain over time.

If the chair doesn’t come with lumbar support and you cannot get a new one that does, you can try to buy a cushion or use a rolled-up towel to give you the support you need.

3. Is It High Quality and How Old Is It?

This is another important factor to consider. While the office chair you purchased years ago may have offered excellent ergonomics in the past, it may not necessarily be the best choice right now.

If your chair isn’t made out of high-quality materials, you could find yourself with a chair that needs to be replaced sooner rather than later. A lot of office chairs may falter after repeated use because of the craftsmanship.

RELATED READING: Tips for Making Sure Your Office Chair Doesn’t Hurt Your Back

This is why it’s typically recommended to get a chair that is both high-quality and one that comes with a warranty. If your chair is losing support or perhaps it’s limited in adjustability because something is broken, it’s time to replace it.

Your chair could be contributing to your back pain because it needs to be replaced with a new one.

Tips To Keep Your Office Chair From Giving You Back Pain

1. Fix Your Posture

As mentioned in this article, you need to focus on improving your posture to keep yourself from ending up with back pain after being seated for too long. A lot of people don’t even realize they are slouching when they are. Constantly remind yourself to sit up in your chair.

Your back should be arched to avoid allowing your shoulders to roll over.

2. Get An Adjustable Monitor Arm

One of the best investments you can make in your setup is an adjustable monitor arm. Getting an adjustable monitor arm will allow you to change the orientation of your monitor without having to worry about changing anything else.

You can sit at your monitor in any position whether you are standing or seated.

3. Get An Adjustable Desk

If you want to optimize the ergonomics of your entire setup, an adjustable desk may be in the cards. A standing and adjustable desk would be even better.

That way, you can adjust the desk to the perfect height and take frequent breaks standing up to minimize back pain from being seated for too long.

So, Is Your Office Chair Causing Your Back Pain?

There is only one way to find out. You need to look at your office chair and figure out if it’s putting you in a good seated position while working.

Figure out if it has the adjustability needed to ensure you have optimal ergonomics while seated at your desk. If your chair is showing signs of aging, it may need to be replaced.

When buying a new chair, you want to do your due diligence to ensure that you identify a chair that delivers everything stated in this article.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5530370/