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What are the adjustments on an office chair?

By Sam Knijff
- 5 minutes read

Today's office chairs are a product of over a century of design and development. Materials, works, style, it all is an effect of many iterations of designs. Every new idea, whilst very expensive and reserved for the patent holder at first, soon becomes an industry-wide standard. An average office chair in 2022 is a true marvel of sitting technology.

What makes office chairs such a wonder?

As mentioned above there is a number of factors, however in this article we'd like to focus on mechanisms present in modern office chairs. These devices are what draws the broadest line between office chairs and standard chairs. It is what makes sitting in an office chair for 8 hours every day comfortable. Chair adjustments - the key to ergonomics.

We are not all the same. Every human body is different. Everyone has their own most comfortable position. Everyone has different tasks to tackle. We can't all use the same chair.

Enter chair adjustments

In order to avoid building a bespoke chair to suit every person, the industry came with the idea of adjustments. It started with simple height adjustment, but after years of evolution we came to the current state, where pretty much everything can be adjusted on a standard office chair. 

The most popular office chair adjustments

Among the most common features of chairs we can usually find the following:

Height adjustment

It is the most basic adjustment. Thanks to a gas lift cylinder the chair can travel up and down about 5- 6 inches. This is also the most used adjustment as the required height of the chair is different for everyone. The chair height should match the desk height. Your hands and forearms should be in line with your desktop. Your feet should provide support by being firmly placed on the floor. Gas lifts are operated by a single lever. 


Back tilt (recline of the backrest)

A reclining backrest is an answer to spine health degeneration. By allowing some degree of freedom of movements we can help the long-term compression and thus help keep our backs in good shape. There are a couple of types of back tilts:

Infinite back tilt allows to lock the reclined backrest in any position of it's tilting range

Fixed position back tilt offers a number (usually 3-5) of positions in which a backrest can be locked.

Tilt tension adjustment is a control (usually a knob) which allows the user to adjust the the amount of force needed to recline the backrest.

Height adjustable lumbar support

A lumbar support can be a great addition to an office chair, however if it's fixed at one height it will be of no use to some users. The height adjustable lumbar support solves the problem, by allowing the user to fine-tune the position of the lumbar support.


Seat Slide

Seat slide allows to adjust the depth of the seat. If the chair is too deep, shorter users will not be able to make any use of the backrest. This adjustment makes a single chair universal for anyone. Usually operated by a lever under the front part of the seat.

Adjustable headrest

Not all chairs come with a headrest and even some of those which do, don't offer any adjustments to the part. Most of the times however, at least the height of the headrest is adjustable. Higher end headrest chairs additionally offer a headrest tilt.

Adjustable armrests

Correct positioning of armrests can help to reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries.

There are three levels of adjustable armrests. The most basic variant only allows to adjust height. More advance models might allow the adjustment of the width of the gap between armrests, the forward-backward position and a rotation of armrests. 3D  armrests allow height, forward/backward and left/right movement. Some armrest allow for rotation, these are sometimes referred to as 4D armrests. 

Seat tilt

A seat tilt is not very common. It allows the user to adjust the inclination, independent of the backrest.


In summary

In the current day and age everyone can sit comfortably. The further away from average your body shape is, the better use you will get out of highly adjustable office chairs. Are you on the market for a comfortable office chair? See our range of ergonomic chairs to find the one that suits you most.

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