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My Quest to Find the Perfect Office Chair

Marc has nearly 20 years of experience working in the mattress industry. He likes sharing his business expertise with others.

Don't let back pain ruin your life. Read on to learn about the best office chairs on the market.

Don't let back pain ruin your life. Read on to learn about the best office chairs on the market.

Stuck in a Chair Most of the Day

Like many office bound folks, I’m stuck behind a monitor at least 5-8 hours a day in a busy office environment. And while I’ve learned all about the newest trend of working standing up behind one those new fangled rising desks, the reality is that you’re going to be sitting a good portion of the day.

The average office worker, at least in larger companies where I have worked, has no choice but to sit to perform intensive tasks, and it is not unusual to find people that spend 10 solid hours sitting (except for bathroom breaks and maybe a lunch outing) every day (that's as long as an international flight).

What I think is funny is that when you are flying on an airplane, most people are frequently up and walking, stretching, and are conscious of the whole “blood clot thing," but at work, we treat sitting as if it were a totally different activity.

Back Pain—My Greatest Enemy

My greatest enemy- lower back and seat pain from poor quality chairs that have literally zero or minimal padding, horrible back or side support, and poorly designed armrests. I have about a two hour lifespan on any chair to begin with, so eventually my hamstrings and rear end go numb. Most chairs offer no lower back support (unlike my car, which has an inflatable lumbar adjustment) at all.

Most foam used in the padding of a typical office chair, I've found, pack down after only a few months, going from somewhat cushy and nest-like, to feeling like a few layers of cardboard or gravel. How is this possible?

Office Chair Back Pain

Office Chair Back Pain

When you buy a mattress, you have thousands of choices, from memory foam, to latex rubber, to specialized pocketed coils, to amazing layers of wool, and other filler stuff… we spend probably less time horizontal than we do sitting on our butts 8-10 hours a day, and the worst part is, that when you are sleeping, at least you are distributing the load across a wide area, a broad surface, but in an office chair, you’re concentrating your weight into an area the size of a small pizza pan, so it’s much harder to distribute the load and reduce the pressure point and laser like pain that slowly but surely shoots up from the seat of your cheap, raggedy office chair.

I also have been reading a lot about sitting being the new "heart attack", and of course, everyone is looking for an excuse to pop out of your office chair and either stand while working or walking and stretching.

Physically, the damage is done because you are often sitting so long that blood pools in your legs, and body movement or standing is the only way that blood can get pumped back to your heart and move through your body without forming clots, which can lead to stroke, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, etc.

Almost as bad, is nerve compression, which can cause conditions like sciatic nerve pain, and the firmer the surface, the more mashing you are doing to both nerves and connective tissue. I have had sciatic nerve pain, and believe me, it is horrific, and it takes weeks sometimes to go away. The root cause of the problem: clearly too much sitting on extremely rigid chairs, and maybe not enough stretching and walking.

Office Chair Frustration

Frustrated by this, I started wondering if I should sit at all while at work! But, the fact is, sitting down at work, with periodic upright activity, is simply a fact of life in the workplace. But why is the typical office issue chair so terrible?

Most office chairs are really akin to a folding metal chair, with little or no thought given to how your body conforms to the chair, or where to build in proper ergonomic elements that make sitting at least tolerable.

Also, the neck area in most chairs offer no extra cushion or pushback, so your entire spine goes Frankenstein stiff as you slowly begin to seize up and your body begins to fight back, screaming at you to get up!

My Quest for the Perfect Office Chair

So, with a completely numb rear end, I began a quest, in a retail store first, but still didn’t find a chair that seemed to fit me just right after trying 30 or so chairs. I also began to get complaints from co-workers who were all secretly wrestling the same bear eight hours a day, silently suffering.

While in a big box mattress store one day, which also happened to sell office chairs, I started wondering why chairs aren't built with an innerspring kind of arrangement in the seat.

I had heard of office chairs with mattress style coils built into the seat, which sounded really nice, and I started checking things out online. Much to my surprise I stumbled on one, within a few minutes of nosing around.

Read More From Toughnickel

It was a Serta Brand Office Chair, that I found on Amazon.Com. It had only a few reviews, but seemed to offer what I was looking for. Skeptical, I was in so much pain, that I took a chance and ordered not one, but two, because my accountant was also complaining about how awful her chair was, and if we didn't love them to death, I figured I could return them if I wanted to.

Serta Smart Layers AIR Arlington Executive Chair

Serta Smart Layers AIR Arlington Executive Chair

When it arrived, I noticed from the get go how neatly the chair was packaged with bubble wrap and extra plastic sheeting around the leather to prevent scuffing during shipping (nice).

It was a quick 15 minute assembly job, and I was ready to test drive the thing. Sitting on it was unlike any other office chair experience. I felt like I was floating on the seat, rather than bottoming into it like that middle seat in economy on an airplane. The chair felt better than many high end car seats I’d tried, seriously.

Chair Features

The chair offers two controls, a lift feature for height, which is great, and also a lock position, so that the chair will not rock back, feeling like you’re being prepped for a dental extraction, which is basically what I felt like in my old office chair. I love the chocolate leather finish (I think it is bonded leather, which is genuine leather with a simulated leather on top, but it looks awesome).

The armrests and undercarriage of the chair are finished in a pewter color, which is cool, and looks modern but without being too futuristic and out of place with my office furnishings, very important to me. Also, the chair features a really nice stitching done in white, which looks good against the chocolate leather.

My current office chair has no aesthetic quality, is uninviting, has a separate back panel which loosens and swivels all over the place, and the wheel and carousel like assembly on the floor is not wide enough to prevent tipping.

A Personal Video of My Serta Office Chair

Both myself and my coworker love this chair, and the float factor alone on your rear end, takes a huge amount of the pain out of an otherwise painful work day! Give it a shot (Serta Brand Office Chair on Amazon.Com), I was highly skeptical about buying this chair, but I now I actually look forward to getting to my office so I can sit in the thing!

Great Video Showing Chair Construction and Features

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 28, 2016:

Thanks for the review. I'm guessing that your article will prove more helpful than you imagine.

Dianna Mendez on August 25, 2016:

Whoever would have thought a post on office chairs could be interesting? Great job on writing this post. I have a comfy office chair but wouldn't mind looking into some of the ones you list here.

Nancy Yager from Hamburg, New York on August 21, 2016:

I love the personal video, it really sells your opinion on the chair. The right chair makes all the difference in the working environment. I wish more employers would invest in their workers by providing good chairs.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 21, 2016:

That looks an awful lot like the one I have at home (where I work). Comfortable.

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