Let’s take a look at the humble chair. You could do things on the cheap and make use of that three-legged milking stool you had stuffed at the back of the garage, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The chair I’m sitting in to write this, and in which I do my online teaching, could have bought me not only a milking stool but also a cow and the unrestricted favours of the milkmaid. However, it was money well spent.
The chair I’m sitting in is a marvel of technology. The chair seat is made of soft but durable leather as are the reassuringly solid armrests. The backrest is very firm and supporting, but is made of a synthetic mesh that allows air to circulate freely. There’s a lumbar support along with a soft padded leather head rest. The seat and backrest a fully adjustable both in height and angle. And after years’ of constant use, the chair is showing no signs of wear and tear, and neither is the user.
Whatever chair you do decide to buy it should be reassuringly solid. The base should be wheeled and at least as broad as the seat of the chair and the armrests, if fitted, combined. You should be able to adjust the seat height pneumatically while seated without being in danger of lopping off a finger or two.
As the chair is for you, and you alone, you need to make sure that you can adjust it so that the height of the seat at the chair allows your thighs to be horizontal and your lower legs vertical with your feet flat on the floor. You can also make use of a footrest if needed.
The seat of the chair should be wide enough for your hips and deep enough to allow you to press your back against the lumbar support without having the front of the seat pressing into the back of your knees. Buy a chair which has a rounded and padded seat at the front, but not one so padded in the seat that you cannot maintain a steady posture. This will overwork your muscles and cause you strain and fatigue.
Avoid plastic chairs and choose a fabric or material that can not breathe. There’s nothing worse than sitting through a half hour class in a growing pool of sweat.
While the seat should swivel easily through 360 degrees, armrests are optional. Some people prefer them, some people don’t. My personal preference is for armrests, but if you share my preference make sure that they do not stop you getting close to your desk.
You also need to be able to tilt the seat of the chair to about 10° from the horizontal. Having a chair that you can lock securely in place when you have found the right position to you, but can also be loosened up when required is a bonus.
Next to the chair, or should I say in front of the chair, the most important component of your ergonomic workstation is your ergonomic desk. As you are going to be using a computer keyboard you should be able to sit in your chair, set to the correct height so that your feet flat on the floor, your lower legs vertical, and your thighs horizontal, while your forearms are at 90° to your upper arms while typing.