10 Best Ergonomic Office Chairs for Back Pain: Shopping and User Guide

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Most of us spend hours sitting (more than we’d like to admit), oftentimes to the detriment of our lower backs.

Here at RAVE Reviews, we found a desk chair that will allow you to sail through the workday pain-free: the Herman Miller Sayl Chair

Our overall best ergonomic office chair proves its worth with stunning aesthetic, ergonomic design, and ecological integrity. But the Sayl Chair is just the start. We have nine more back-saving ergonomic office chairs for you to consider.

How much time do you think you spend sitting down during a typical day? Let’s look at the numbers. According to a recent study by the Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, the typical working American sits for an average of 64 hours a week. That’s 24 hours beyond a 40-hour workweek and 9 hours per day. If it’s not already obvious, we spend a lot of time sitting.

Unless you are diligent about taking stretch breaks and staying active throughout the day, the accumulation of all that sitting wreaks havoc on your back and neck. You know the feeling. While you’re typing away and answering emails at your desk, the pain in your lower back is slowly baring its teeth. The pain can seep into activities beyond sitting, affecting your sleep, work, and social life.

But we’re not here to “sit shame” anyone. We’re here to make things better. So for those of you who are concerned about maintaining your health throughout your workweek, we have a solution for you: an ergonomic office chair designed to prevent back pain. In fact, we have ten for you to choose from!

The Ergonomic Office Chairs We RAVE About

Herman Miller Sayl Chair
Best Overall
Herman Miller Sayl Chair
KADIRYA High Back Mesh Office Chair
Best Budget
KADIRYA High Back Mesh Office Chair
Herman Miller Aeron Chair
Most Customizable
Herman Miller Aeron Chair

There’s Nothing Worse Than a Sore Back

It puts a cloud over everything, especially any chance you have at a productive workday. Those of us who have desk jobs spend long hours sitting in front of our computers. Then we get home and sit down for dinner, move to the couch and catch up on Netflix, and then fall into bed. The next morning we start all over again.  

That doesn’t give our bodies much time to stretch out and move in dynamic positions that are required to keep our joints and muscles healthy. So how do you stop the cycle? Ergonomic seating can help to dramatically ease the pain of sitting.

What Do You Mean by “Ergonomic?”

Ergonomic has become a hot-button word over the last few years. Technically, it means “related to or designed for efficiency and comfort in the working environment.” But let’s unpack that a bit. What would an ergonomic office setup look like, specifically?

Here are four elements to keep in mind as you put together your ergonomic office space:

  1. Chair: Above all, find an office chair that promotes the natural curve of your spine. Then think about armrests, chair height,  lower back support, and good posture. More specifics on that below!
  2. Computer Monitor: The computer monitor should be about an arm’s length away from your face, with your eyes level with the top of the screen.  
  3. Keyboard and Mouse: Your computer accessories should be close to your hands. Be sure to keep your wrists straight and maintain a 90-degree or 100-degree angle with your upper arms and forearms.
  4. Desk: Make sure your desk is set at the correct height for your knees to fit comfortably underneath it with your feet planted firmly on the floor. Or, consider a standing desk.

Ergonomic Trends

Now that you have a good sense for how to set up an ergonomic workspace, let’s narrow things down to the office chair. Right now, there are lots of chairs on the market that claim to be ergonomic. But before you spend lots of money on a high-end chair, you should know a bit about the specific elements that are required to rightfully claim that title.

Looking at the chair from top to bottom, use this checklist to determine if you have indeed found an ergonomic office chair:

  • Adjustable seat height and tilt mechanism 
  • Firm but comfortable padding on the seat and back
  • Adjustable backrest (moves forward and backward)
  • Adjustable armrests (move up and down, tips in and out)
  • Lumbar support (adjustable is a bonus)
  • Fluid 360-degree swivel
  • Solid base (with or without wheels)
  • Breathable 
  • High-quality upholstery  

The common denominator when it comes to ergonomic seating? Customization. It’s so important to find a chair you can dial in to exactly fit your needs.

Another general rule of thumb is that ergonomic seating is best when it facilitates the natural shape of your body. Your spine has an S-shape, starting with your cervical spine (neck), then your thoracic spine (mid-back), and finally your lumbar spine (low back).

Most ergonomic chairs pay special attention to the lumbar spine simply because your lower back tends to take on the most pressure when you sit for long periods of time. Extra lumbar padding is a must for ergonomic seating.

Active Seating

As you go about your search, you’ll likely come across the phrase “active seating.” This is a growing trend in the world of ergonomics. Basically, it means seating that is designed to keep your body active throughout the day.

The theory behind active seating is that by encouraging your body to stay dynamic rather than static during the workday, you’re promoting increased blood flow and oxygen intake, as well as preventing your muscles from locking into one position.

One example of active seating is a waterfall front edge on the seat cushion. This removes the pressure from the back of your knees and frees up circulation. Another example is 360-degree swivel capability, which promotes mobility in your spine throughout the day.

Some ergonomic office chairs intentionally tip the main seat forward (or provide an adjustable mechanism to do so) in order to position you with your feet planted on the ground. In short, keep comfortable, but keep moving!

Methodology

There are so many office chairs out there, and so many variables that can determine what makes the best chair. So how did we narrow in on just the top ten? The short answer is data.

We crafted a methodology that considered not only product specs, but also consumer reports and reviews. User experience is key when it comes to products that advertise pain relief. We wanted to make sure these products actually walk the talk.

We weighed both qualitative and quantitative data, and considered not only how ergonomic the chair is, but also its longevity, cost, and overall functionality. Here’s a look at our top priorities, as well as the core questions we considered:

  • Ergonomic Viability: Was this chair designed with your back in mind? We only selected chairs that include features specific to spine support.
  • Custom-Made: Can this chair be adjusted to fit specific needs? Not all backs and body types are the same. You need a chair that fits you.
  • Price: How much will this chair set you back? It’s crucial to consider your budget before making a big purchase.   
  • Warranty: Will this chair stand the test of time? A warranty oftentimes indicates the quality of the materials used.
  • Amazon Review Score: What do other people have to say about the chair? In the end, that’s probably the most reliable measurement of all.

Ready to start feeling less back pain? Take a look at our ten best ergonomic office chairs.

The Best Ergonomic Office Chairs

1

Herman Miller Sayl Chair

The Herman Miller Sayl Chair beats out the rest as the best ergonomic office chair that specifically addresses back pain. Uniquely designed with an unframed back, the Sayl Chair combines class with affordability at $495. You just don’t see anything else like it on the market.

Using 3D Intelligent suspension technology, the Sayl Chair allows the natural S-shape contours of your back to settle into the chair. It delivers effortless sacral support through the elastomer strands netting the frame. Additionally, you can purchase an optional lumbar support piece to further cushion your back.

Typically, Herman Miller chairs are on the higher end of the price scale. However, by using eco-friendly and simple materials, this sophisticated chair is half the price of similar models. The chair is constructed out of 93% recyclable materials.

Pros

  • Lightweight (37 lbs)
  • 3D Intelligent back
  • 23 different color options

Cons

  • Arms not adjustable
  • Pre-set depth on cushion
  • Armrest instability
2

Flash Furniture Mid-Back Mesh Chair

Flash Furniture’s Mid-Back Mesh Chair provides extra support for your lumbar spine. At $107, this highly affordable office chair will keep your back well-loved and well-ventilated. The breathable mesh material on the back panel allows for air circulation all day long.

The Flash Furniture Mid-Back Mesh Chair also includes several adjustable features, such as flip-up armrests and the pneumatic seat height adjustment lever. The chair is upholstered in leather, and the seat cushion is designed with a unique waterfall front edge to improve circulation in your lower legs.

Here’s what one happy customer had to say: “It is easy not to realize that a chair is not ergonomic when you are able-bodied and everything is working well. When you are in pain, however, that is when you feel every single design flaw. So, when I tell you that this is truly an ergonomic chair, you can believe that.”

Pros

  • Flip-up arm adjustments
  • Breathable mesh material
  • Built-in lumbar support

Cons

  • Arm height not adjustable
  • Leather peels after heavy use
  • Limited backwards tilt
3

Herman Miller Aeron Chair

Herman Miller proves (once again) its leadership in the market of ergonomic office chairs through the Aeron Chair. Dubbed the “ergonomic workhorse,” this chair molds your body into the optimal posture: pelvis tipped forward and shoulders broad.

Everything about the Aeron Chair is dialed in for ultimate comfort. The seat and back use 8Z Pellicle suspension, which features eight different zones of tension and support to mitigate back pain. Additionally, the back panel is designed with a breathable mesh network.

This company believes in its product, backing it with a 12-year warranty. The Aeron Chair is for everyone—literally! It is our most customizable chair, and comes in three different sizes for three different body types. Herman Miller also offers numerous opportunities for customers to adjust back support, tilt, material, and more.

Pros

  • 12-year warranty
  • Hugely customizable
  • 8Z Pellicle suspension technology

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No warranty through Amazon
  • Locked-in seat and back angles
4

KADIRYA High Back Mesh Office Chair

As the best ergonomic chair in our ranking for those on a budget, the KADIRYA High Back Mesh Office Chair is more than meets the eye. It brings sophistication, comfort, and adjustability into an affordable package. And we mean really affordable: It costs just $82.

From head to toe, the KADIRYA High Back Mesh Office Chair has you covered. This is an executive office chair that not only supports your lower back, but also provides a padded headrest. The chair is padded comfortably with leather material and a breathable mesh back panel.

Here’s the secret to the KADIRYA back support: The high back panel is delicately S-shaped to fit the natural curvature of your back. The Synchro Tilt & Tension control allows you to adjust the angle of your seated position anywhere from 90 to 110 degrees. You can also move the armrests up or down to the perfect 90-degree angle for your desk height.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Adjustable arm height
  • Extra lumbar padding

Cons

  • One-year warranty only
  • Some complaints of squeaking
  • Leather peels after heavy use
5

MBOO Ergonomic Office Chair

The MBOO Ergonomic Office Chair brings the ultimate back comfort to the executive office. At $146, it ranks in our top five not only for its ergonomic design, but also for its affordability.

The construction of the MBOO Ergonomic Office Chair focuses on small adjustments that make big differences. For example, there is a knee-tilt function that places the pivot point directly behind your knees. This ensures that your feet will be firmly placed on the floor. Additionally, you’ll find padded, adjustable armrests that transfer your weight away from your shoulders and neck, decreasing neck pain and stiffness.

The MBOO Ergonomic Office Chair also features a fully adjustable headrest, which keeps your cervical spine 100% supported throughout the day. For all its perks, the MBOO office chair only comes in one color, unfortunately. But it is sure to blend into any office setting—and to be a lifesaver for your back.

Pros

  • Affordable executive chair
  • Highly adjustable
  • Easy to assemble

Cons

  • Only a 1-month warranty
  • Only comes in one color
  • Cloth armrests (not leather)
6

Steelcase Leap Fabric Chair

The Steelcase Leap Fabric Chair is everything that is right with innovative ergonomic technology. This chair is designed to accommodate the human body both with functioning parts and as a whole. The Steelcase engineers created a chair that boosts productivity, supports your entire spine, and looks good in the meantime.

Here’s a glimpse into what Steelcase offers: First, you’ll experience LiveBack, which is a back panel technology that imitates the natural curve of your spine and adjusts its support throughout the day. The Natural Glide System allows you to recline fluidly, but still focus on work. You can take on more varied postures in this chair, enhancing blood circulation and oxygen flow.

If you love the Steelcase Leap vision but want a little something different, you can choose from any of its variations: the Leap Plus, Leap Stool, Leap Chair with Headrest, Leap Worklounge, and more. All of the products in this line are geared toward ergonomic seating.

Pros

  • 98% recyclable materials
  • Adjustable armrests
  • LiveBack technology

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Seat cushion is thin
  • Not great for people over 6’1″
7

Eurotech Ergohuman

A company with over 30 years of experience in the business of economical and ergonomic seating, Eurotech has found success with the Ergohuman chair. Its overall craftsmanship, value, and effectiveness easily earns it a spot on our ranking.

For starters, when your Eurotech Ergohuman arrives, you can adjust it in numerous areas to fit your exact preferences. You can move the seat up and down, slide the seat forward and backward, or lock the back panel in your preferred tilt. Even more, the back panel (with lumbar support) can slide up and down to fit your unique angles.

The entire chair also has an overlay of strong, breathable mesh to help you maintain a static body temperature throughout the day. And, if you want to add some color to your office, the mesh is available in a variety of shades: green, plum red, gray, orange-copper, and blue.

Pros

  • 5-year warranty
  • Lockable adjustment features
  • Easy assemblage

Cons

  • Heavy (60 lbs)
  • No forward tilt feature
  • No added cushion
8

Serta Mid-Back Office Chair

The SertaMid-Back Office Chair changes the formula entirely. This chair is essential for anyone with mid-back issues. Easily mistaken for a lounge chair, the SertaMid-Back Office Chair delivers a plush, layered solution to ergonomic seating.

Here’s the secret: This chair features Air Lumbar technology in the center back panel. This kinetic tool supports your lower back while reacting to your mid-back movement in real-time. The air-filled pad doesn’t force your spine into a particular shape. Instead, it creates the necessary tension and freedom for your back to simply be. The rest of the chair is just as comfy and padded as the Air Lumbar panel.

The cushions and armrests are constructed out of eco-friendly black leather. If black leather isn’t your thing, you can also purchase the SertaMid-Back Office Chair in gray. If you want a little extra height support, try the SertaExecutive Office Chair.

Pros

  • Air Lumbar technology
  • Padded seat cushion
  • Easy assemblage

Cons

  • Leather cracks over time
  • Not a lot of adjustment ability
  • Only a one-year warranty
9

Topsky Mesh Chair

The Topsky Mesh Chair has you covered in all the vulnerable pain areas: neck, shoulders, and lower back. At each pain area—the headrest, armrest, and lumbar zone—you can adjust the chair to your liking.

The headrest on the Topsky Mesh Chair is perhaps what sets it apart from the rest. It can be adjusted on three different planes: up and down, forward and backward, or angled from 0 to 45 degrees. You can maximize your lounging by tilting the back panel to the full 145 degrees. Or kick your posture into high gear by tightening up the lumbar support.

This chair has a commanding presence, with a maximum height of over 4 feet. If that isn’t enough, Topsky shows its style by offering a neon (and we mean bright neon) green color option in addition to the standard black and gray. One more perk: It also includes a sneaky built-in coat hanger on the back.

Pros

  • Fully adjustable headrest
  • Coat hanger on back
  • 330-lb weight capacity

Cons

  • Too big for smaller people
  • Lower quality materials
  • Seat cushion flattens over time
10

Steelcase Gesture Chair

Steelcase gets the last word with its Gesture Chair. As a general rule, Steelcase chairs do not skimp on any step of the process, from the quality of materials to the level of ergonomic support. The Steelcase Gesture Chair follows suit and delivers an attractive, comfortable (if not a little expensive) ergonomic office chair.

The Gesture Chair was born out of a global posture study that surveyed over 2,000 people and took stock of their natural postures as they interacted with technology. From there, the Steelcase engineers came up with an office chair that supports these common positions.

For one thing, it uses the 3D LiveBack, which forms to the curvature of your spine. The Gesture 360 arm is designed to move like an actual human arm. Finally, the back panel adjusts its tension depending on the angle of the seat. This one also comes in super fun colors, like tangerine, turmeric, wasabi, malt, and more!

Pros

  • Quality materials
  • Lots of color options
  • 3D LiveBack and 360 armrests

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No height adjustments
  • Uncomfortable seat cushion

Why do some chairs cause back pain?

So what’s the big deal about sitting? Why does it tend to cause back pain? It’s sort of a “chicken or the egg” scenario. As it turns out, we shouldn’t rest all the blame on the chairs themselves. A large part of the problem is our posture… but certain chairs encourage poor posture. See why it’s so hard to pin down the culprit?

Whether or not you have an ergonomic chair, we all tend to fall into the same postural habits. Here are a few reminders to keep you and your office chair working in harmony:

  1. For good posture, keep your head aligned squarely on your shoulders. Most of us tip our heads forward to look at a screen or down at our desks. Our heads are heavy—10 pounds, on average. Over time, this angle puts intense strain on our necks and upper backs, causing neck pain and stiffness. 
  2. Don’t roll your shoulders forward. Chairs with limited lumbar support make us curve inward, which puts unnecessary strain on our back muscles.
  3. Keep your elbows tucked toward your torso. The further your arms are away from your body, the more pressure they absorb from even the most mundane tasks (like moving a mouse or typing on a keyboard). Adjustable armrests are crucial.
  4. Take breaks and stand up. If you sit too long, your vertebrae tend to become compacted, potentially leading to long-term disc compression issues. So stand up and stretch every 30 minutes.

Can ergonomic office chairs improve overall health?

Yes! You’ll see almost immediate improvements to your overall health with an ergonomic office chair. In fact, that’s the whole point. The impact of ergonomic seating is overwhelmingly positive, not only for our physical health, but also for career satisfaction and productivity.

Spine health is at the center of everything. The spine houses our core musculoskeletal structures, millions of bundles of nerves, and major blood vessels. When the spine is compromised, our entire system is compromised.

On the flip side, when we find seating options with ergonomic integrity, we start to see huge positive changes to our overall physical health. Here are just a few:

  • Increased blood flow to the legs
  • Increased oxygen to the brain
  • Improved joint health
  • Better connective tissue fluidity
  • More toned pelvic floor muscles

Ergonomic seating goes beyond just physical health. It’s kind of a no-brainer that when your physical health improves, other aspects of your life follow suit. According to a recent (2016) study by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, ergonomic seating in an office setting had a direct correlation with the following:

  • Significant decrease in sick days
  • Lower number of work errors
  • Boosted productivity by 40%

What are the best ergonomic office chairs for back pain?

Even after doing extensive research, poring over industry reviews, and crunching data, narrowing in on only ten of the best ergonomic office chairs out there was a tough challenge. There are so many fantastic options.  

While they fall outside of our featured list, we still want to include these five honorable mentions:

There was no waffling, however, about the three stand-out winners for the Best Ergonomic Office Chairs for Back Pain. As a company, Michigan-based Herman Miller, Inc. cornered the market on both best overall ergonomic chair, the Sayl Chair, and the most customizable ergonomic chair, the Aeron Chair. And for those of you looking for a deal, the KADIRYA High Back Mesh Office Chair won’t let you down.

When it comes down to it, you are the best judge of which ergonomic chair is best for your back. In the long run, this purchase will save you a ton of money and, most importantly, save you from a backache.

RAVE Recommends

An ergonomic office setup goes beyond just an office chair. We have a few more back-saving products for you to consider:

  • Lumbar Support Pillow ($25): Need a little extra support? This lumbar support pillow is chiropractor-approved. It is expertly constructed out of orthopedic memory foam and breathable mesh, and comes with adjustable straps to fit any chair.
  • Vertical Ergonomic Mouse ($20): Innovatively shaped in a vertical (rather than flat) wave, this computer mouse takes the pressure off your wrist, saving you from carpal tunnel. The mouse is wireless and can be quickly charged up with a USB port.
  • 321 Strong Foam Roller ($22): Take a five-minute break out of your workday and use this foam roller to smooth out any jumbled or cramped muscles. Foam rollers are proven to reach soft muscle tissue in a targeted and efficient manner.
  • Varidesk Pro Plus 30 Standing Desk ($325): Want the best of both worlds? The Varidesk Pro Plus gives you the option to sit or stand. When the 2 p.m. sleepies hit, you can raise the two-tiered desk upwards and stretch out your back.

Meg Jacobini

Meg Jacobini is a freelance writer based in a small room somewhere in Europe. Her favorite things in life are Chinese Hot Pot and obscure African records. On Saturdays you'll often find her watching the local soccer team lose their umpteenth game.