What’s The Best Type Of Office Chair For Herniated Discs?

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Few things in life are going to break down your body faster than parking your behind an office chair for hours on end (at least five days a week) – especially if that chair wasn’t designed with ergonomics in mind. 

In fact, medical researchers are starting to let the public know that sitting at the office all day long could end up being more damaging to your back and your body than being involved in a serious car accident.

Combine that with the research we already have showing how our sedentary lifestyles are devastating our long-term health prospects (leading to obesity issues, heart disease issue, and more) and the importance of finding the right office chair for your body becomes paramount.

To put it bluntly, if you choose your new office chair poorly your body and your health will end up paying the repercussions for years to come. 

The best office chairs for managing a herniated disc are those which are ergonomically designed to offer strategic cushioning, have ample adjustable features, a high back and are of a build quality to support your frame for as long as the chair remains in use. 

Whilst this article addresses the question “what is the best type of office chair for herniated discs?” – here too is our top and budget picks for chairs that help cope with back pain.

Photo by Laura Davidson on Unsplash

What features to look for in office chairs designed for herniated discs?

The way we sit on chairs (especially poorly made ones) is anything but conducive to good posture. Either our back is too straight, we pitch too far forward, or our bodies just don’t fit the way the chair was made – causing us to use it in ways it wasn’t designed to be used.

This all contributes to bad posture which inevitably puts a lot more pressure and stress on your spinal column, potentially causing your discs to bulge or possibly herniate.

Much of that (if not all of that) extra stress and pressure can be eliminated completely just by getting out right with chairs designed for the task at hand.

Here are the things you need to look for in office chair for herniated disc options today.

1. Intelligent ergonomics

Straight out of the gate nothing is more important than getting a chair designed with ergonomics in mind. Budget office chairs that you can usually pickup for $50 or less have designs that are simple, straightforward, and minimalist (which look nice on the surface) but are going to contort your body into all the wrong positions.

Intelligently designed chairs with ergonomics in mind cradle your body best, and that alleviate the stress and pressure put upon your body most of the time.

As we’ve seen with ergonomically designed keyboards and mice prioritizing ergonomics can drastically reduce pain and discomfort. 

An office chair designed to support workers with herniated discs
Image by Spiderstock on Canva Pro

2. Smart and strategic cushioning

If the cushioning isn’t intelligently laid out with ergonomics in mind you’re going to shift your weight around, sit in the chair in ways it wasn’t designed to be sat in, and compromise the health of your back along the way.

The chair needs to be comfortable but the cushioning also needs to avoid putting undue stress on pressure points, too. 

Cushioning that is soft but stable, comforting but resilient is what you want to shoot for. 

You’re not looking for a memory foam mattress that you’re going to fall asleep and, but instead something with a bit of structure that holds you in a productive and good posture position for standard amounts of time. 

3. Easy adjustability

Adjustability is another big part of getting a high quality office chair designed to help you prevent or alleviate herniated disc issues.

You’ll want arms, seats, and back angles that can be moved and repositioned to give you the opportunity to really custom tailored your seat to your body. Even rollerblade wheel casters can take the strain out of moving your chair around. 

Remember, even the best designed and most ergonomically sound office chairs aren’t going to be a custom fit. You’ll still need plenty of adjustability to dial them in to your specific needs.

If picking up a brand new chair isn’t going to be possible any time soon, there are other elements of your desk setup that can partially take the pressure off your back, such as adjusting the angle you look at your monitor.

4. Straight back or reclining back?

 Choosing between a straight back or reclining back office chair can be a little daunting at first, at least until you better understand how different back positions and angles support or crush your spine.

This is why there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that sitting on a stool with no back at all brings a whole suite of benefits for posture and subsequently back pain. 

Researchers have discovered that when it comes to chairs reclining back chairs are probably the best option on the market today, with researchers at the University of Alberta finding that a reclined angle of 135° minimized disc pressure in your spine as much as possible.

Obviously, working while sitting at a reclined position of 135° isn’t always going to be possible in the real world. But you’ll want at least a bit of reclining built into your chair (the ability to push back as necessary) to relieve that stress that will build up in your spine throughout the day.

90° straight back chairs really abuse your spine and your discs and leaning forward (at 80° or more) is even worse. Shoot for chairs that you can tip back safely every now and again.

5. Long term durability

Durability is a cornerstone of a quality chair, but truthfully this is something that a lot of folks overlook – especially when they find themselves focused on the other details we highlighted above.

You’re almost always going to have to spend a pretty penny to get your hands on a halfway decent office chair that cradles your back and your spine.

You will only feel comfortable making that kind of investment if you know that the chair itself is solid, well-made, and backed up with a reputation for durability (as well as a great warranty).

How high a chair back is best?

Researchers at the University of Delaware unveiled that the best chairs in their opinion are high-back chairs that offer plenty of support to your upper back and your neck. They found that lower back chairs can be devastating on your body, not only offering little support but also encouraging you to read forward while you are working.

That’s going to avoid undue stress and pressure on your neck and your spine, eventually leading to herniated discs that can be difficult to deal with going forward.

Does lumbar support really make a difference?

There are a lot of chairs out there advertised as offering “extra lumbar support” it would be a mistake to think about as simply marketing speak.

It turns out that intelligent lumbar support (especially adjustable lumbar support) is a game changer when you’re looking to use an office chair that supports a healthy back and spinal column.

You’ll need something that has adjustable firmness, particularly in your middle and lower back area, but you also want to look for chairs that offer external lumbar support pillows that can be moved and pivoted, too.

Those kinds of add-ons and extras aren’t going to be available 100% of the time with every chair you’re interested in. But if you do have the opportunity to invest in those kinds of extras they are almost always well worth the premium price tag.

Chris Dosser

Chris Dosser

Co-Founder of Eden Indoors

Enjoys sharing solutions to problems encountered whilst building and improving his own home office over the past 8 years. Environmental graduate with a love for biophilic design at home and houseplants. Obsessive about making information easier to understand and simpler to digest.

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