Working from home is here to stay: In Stanford University’s February 2023 study on remote work, which surveyed 10,000 workers across cities and industries, 12% of workers reported they are fully remote and 28% said their company is using a hybrid schedule. Yet while working from home has its perks — like a short commute from the bedroom to your desk — it's also caused us to become more sedentary and separated from our ergonomic office setups, according to experts.
“We’re seeing a spike in musculoskeletal conditions related to poor posture [ever since the pandemic],” says Scott Bautch, chiropractor at Bautch Chiropractic. Sitting hunched forward or leaning too far backward can cause headaches, stiffness in the upper back and neck and lethargy due to decreased blood flow to the brain, he says. Beyond discomfort or pain, an uncomfortable workspace can also cause carpal tunnel syndrome, muscle strains and lower back injuries, says Shai Karpf, chiropractor and owner of North Broward Chiropractic & Wellness.
To help you find the best ergonomic office chair, we consulted medical professionals and ergonomic experts to get their recommendations.
Our top picks
- Best overall: Herman Miller Aeron Chair
- Best splurge: Lifeform High Back Executive Office Chair
- Best budget: Branch Ergonomic Chair
How we picked the best ergonomic office chairs
We spoke to ergonomic experts and chiropractors to learn what to consider when buying a desk chair. Our experts recommended keeping the following in mind
- Adjustability: Every ergonomic office chair on this list has an adjustable seat, back and armrests and is designed to accommodate your body’s natural shape and weight.
- Warranty: Every chair considered comes with at least a five-year warranty.
- Weight limit: Every option has a maximum weight capacity of at least 275 pounds.
The best ergonomic office chairs in 2023
Below, we rounded up expert-recommended chairs and included some highly rated options with at least a 4-star average rating that align with our expert guidance.
Lifeform’s Executive Office Chair is a favorite of ergonomic expert Karen E. Loesing, even though it has a considerably high price tag. The chair comes with lumbar support, which adapts to any size, posture or position by increasing or decreasing the amount of curvature in the lumbar area. It also has an adjustable back and seat. Lifeform’s base is made of reinforced fiberglass for stability, and its arm pads are made of memory foam to relieve pressure on the forearm, according to the brand. It also has pressure-sensitive memory foam that conforms to your body’s natural curves, which reduces pressure on the pelvis and improves circulation, according to experts.
Warranty: 10-year limited warranty | Weight limit: 350 pounds
The Herman Miller Aeron Chair is a great overall ergonomic option, according to Loesing. The chair is available in three sizes — small, medium and large— depending on your height and weight, which is great since one size does not fit all, according to Loesing. The basic Aeron model includes adjustable arms, tilt and back support, but for an additional fee, you can add seat-angle adjustment and adjustable lumbar support to stabilize the base of the spine. Its mesh fabric allows air, body heat and water vapor to pass through the seat and backrest to help maintain an even skin temperature, according to the brand. You can also choose different wheel options depending if the chair will be on hardwood or carpeting.
Warranty: 12-year limited warranty | Weight limit: Up to 350 pounds in size Large
The Steelcase Leap is adjustable at every angle, a feature that Loesing says is important so you can tailor the chair to your body to prevent slumping and reduce stress on the spine and the pelvis. It comes with height-adjustable arms to reduce tension in the upper body, according to our experts. There’s recline adjustment and back support to naturally support your spine position and prevent slumping, according to the brand. It also has a height-adjustable seat so your feet can be firmly placed on the floor. For an added fee, you can select arms with four-way adjustment (for height, width, depth and pivot), additional lumbar support and more.
Warranty: Lifetime warranty, though some parts have a 12-year warranty | Weight limit: 400 pounds
If you are on the petite side, Herman Miller’s Sayl Chair is a great option, according to Loesing. This 40.75-inch ergonomic chair has a contoured foam seat cushion, as well as height-adjustable arms, adjustable lumbar support and a ventilated back that flexes with your body and permits air circulation, according to the brand. It also tilts to support the way you naturally move, a feature Loesing says is important if you are often switching between reclining and moving forward, closer to your screen.
Warranty: 12-year warranty | Weight limit: 350 pounds
This ergonomic chair is designed with a contoured backrest that aligns with your spine’s natural curve and offers continuous support whether you’re sitting up or reclining, according to the brand. It also has a flexible seat edge to relieve pressure points under your thighs, as well as fully adjustable 360-degree armrests so as you move, the armrests swivel along with you, according to the brand. The seat can also be adjusted for both height and depth to conform to your sitting style. It comes in several colors, in both leather and fabric designs.
Warranty: Lifetime warranty, though some parts have a 12-year warranty | Weight limit: 400 pounds
Branch’s Ergonomic Chair has several points of adjustment for a customized fit: the armrests, the height, the tilt and tilt tension, the seat depth and the removable lumbar rest. The contoured backrest is made of a breathable double-woven nylon mesh and shoppers can also opt to buy the mesh headrest. This chair is particularly good for individuals who need an adjustable lower backrest and for those who constantly switch their spinal position, according to the brand.
Warranty: 7-year parts and components warranty | Weight limit: 275 pounds
Best ergonomic accessories for your work-from-home setup
In order to determine which accessories you need to make your chair more suitable to your body, try sitting in the ideal posture: “[With your] feet flat and thighs parallel to the ground, relax your shoulders and position your elbows at approximately 90 degrees, says Patten. “If you cannot do this with your current office chair, there may be some accessories you can purchase to accomplish this.” Here is a roundup of accessories experts say are worth investing in.
Footrests offer comfort by keeping your feet elevated and firmly planted, reducing tension in your back and easing pain or discomfort in the feet, knees and ankles. They also improve blood circulation, which can prevent problems such as varicose veins, Patten says. This steel footrest is height-adjustable from 5 inches to 10¼ inches. It also has an anti-slip surface for added traction, according to the brand.
“If you find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat, it could be that the seat is too long,” Patten says. That’s where a back pillow or lumbar support pillow can help fill in the gap. This one from Everlasting Comfort is made of memory foam and adjusts to the shape of your body. It also comes with a memory foam mesh cover for breathability and has dual adjustable straps that can attach to office chairs up to 32 inches in width, according to the brand.
This disc sits on top of your office chair, providing instability so you can strengthen your core while you work, according to the brand. This in turn helps to improve posture, says Bautch. The Gaiam disc comes in four colors and has a 4.2-star average rating from more than 12,000 Amazon reviews.
What is ergonomics in the workplace and why does it matter?
Ergonomic chairs are designed to support the natural S curve of your spine by keeping you in a neutral position, where your feet are flat on the floor, your knees are at a 90-degree angle and your arms are comfortably at rest on the armrests, according to experts. This reduces stress and tension on the pelvis.
How to shop for an ergonomic office chair
Some companies label their chairs as “ergonomic” when they don’t actually have ergonomic features, according to Loesing. The main difference between ergonomic desk chairs and regular chairs is adjustability, she says. A regular office chair will likely have fixed armrests or seat heights, while you can adjust an ergonomic chair based on your needs.
According to Loesing, every ergonomic office chair should have at least these four points of adjustability:
- Seat height, so your knees maintain a 90-degree angle when seated to maintain the natural S curve of your spine.
- Lumbar support, which can be adjusted vertically or for depth. This is especially important if you experience lower back pain or if multiple people will be using the chair.
- Armrest height, so your arms sit comfortably. A pivoting arm is beneficial so you can be supported as you swivel to do different tasks.
- Tilt controls, so your chair will tilt forward or recline gently according to your sitting style and tasks.
Apart from adjustability, Don Patten, a certified professional ergonomist, says the following are the main features to look for when shopping for an ergonomic office chair:
- A chair that accommodates your body’s shape and size.
- A chair that has a base with at least five legs to prevent tipping.
- The right wheels, also referred to as casters, to accommodate your workspace. For example, if your chair is on carpeting, look for wheels that are made of steel or cast iron; for hardwood floors you will want a softer wheel made of polyurethane or rubber so they don’t damage the floors,
- A chair that supports the natural curve of your spine
- Breathable fabric, such as mesh and polyester. (Note: While leather is not breathable, it is still considered an excellent choice for durability and comfort).
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Scott Bautch is a chiropractor at Bautch Chiropractic in Wausau, Wisconsin.
- Shai Karpf is a chiropractor and owner of North Broward Chiropractic & Wellness in Coconut Creek, Florida.
- Karen E. Loesing, CEAS is the owner of The Ergonomic Expert, a consulting company for ergonomic office evaluations.
- Don Patten is a certified professional ergonomist and the specialized services lead in ergonomics for Workplace Safety and Prevention Services.
Why trust Select?
Morgan Greenwald, a former contributor to NBC News Select, and Barbara Booth have published several roundups, including the best vacuums under $100, the best ellipticals for home workouts and best exercise bikes. For this piece, Barbara and Morgan interviewed chiropractors and ergonomics experts and researched dozens of highly rated options that align with expert guidance.