Are you in pain using an office chair? Do you know how to adjust an office chair for your needs? 

chair-75562_1920 (2)Review the following tips to see if you can resolve pain using an office chair.

  1. Get to know all of the levers/cogs on the chair by trying them out. If you have an instruction leaflet attached to the chair, read it. Or find a label, identify the chair make and model and look up the instructions on the internet. Many are downloadable documents.
  2. Some chairs have a seat slide adjustment. Keep the seat depth as long as possible, but still a 2-3 fingers clearance behind the knee. This will provide suitable sitting support.
  3. Some chairs have arm rests. Ideally they should be height adjustable so you can position them to support your forearms during use and breaks. They should be close enough to your build to be useful for resting your arms. Check if the arm rests can be moved in or out from under the seat pad. Also if the arm rest tops can be rotated inwards, outwards or moved forwards and backwards. Arm rests can help to provide forearm support if you have neck or shoulder pain. They can support the weight of your arms comfortably if they are positioned suitably.
  4. When sitting at the desk, raise the chair gas stem (seat height) so that your forearms are horizontal with the middle row of keys. Check if your chair gas stem can go high enough for your personal dimensions! Usually this may mean that the chair arm rests will be horizontal with the front edge of the keyboard or desk. Most chair arm rests do not restrict access to the desk. You can move items closer to you rather than having to move yourself further under the desk. If you cannot touch the floor, you will need a footrest (fixed height desks in the UK are most often around 72cm high).
  5. The chair back rest usually will have some lumbar support, which can be height adjustable. This may be the ability to raise the whole back rest on a series of notches, ratchet style adjustment (or a cog system). Try raising the back rest to the top, allow it to drop to the bottom of the ratchet, and then slowly raise it by one notch at a time. See if it can achieve lumbar support at the right height for your lumbar curve. Some chairs have an air pump option, so that you can inflate the lumbar support if needed. Others may have alternative lumbar adjustment methods. If you are adding a lumbar cushion to the chair, this could lead to the rest of your back not being in contact with the chair back rest. It could also reduce the seat depth as a result, which would not be ideal. A small lumbar ‘D’ roll may be sufficient.
  6. All chairs usually have a lever which allows you to unlock the chair and gain some movement whilst sitting. This can ease discomfort and stiffness. Some will move the seat pad and back rest together (synchro), others may move the chair parts separately. You can then usually leave the chair unlocked whilst you are sitting on it to allow variety, as you wish. If you experience back pain or hip pain, having a chair with ‘open’ angles can help. (E.g. back rest movement and forward seat tilt).
  7. Some chairs have a tension wheel. This is a side lever or a nondescript large knob/lever under the seat of the chair. It may have a + and – marked on it. Adjust the tensioner to make the chair movement more comfortable (looser or tighter movement).

We hope this information is useful and practical advice to ease pain using an office chair and adjust it for your personal needs.

If your chair does not suit you, is causing discomfort or pain, you may need an assessment and advice about your seating needs. Eg. Taller people may need a longer seat depth OR a longer back rest with higher arm rests and lumbar support. Your build, dimensions and health needs can be reviewed so you know what your seating requirements are. This can prevent issues in the future or resolve issues you are currently experiencing.

See our Services related to this topic:

A DSE Risk Assessment may be beneficial to ensure the whole set up is correct, according to the DSE Regulations 1992 for prevention of minor aches and pains.

If discomfort is ongoing, requiring medical input, or there is a diagnosed medical condition, a more in-depth Ergonomic Workstation Assessment is required.

See our Case Studies:

DSE Risk Assessment Case Study

Ergonomic Assessment in an Office Role Case Study

Ergonomic Assessment of a Teacher Case Study

Ergonomic Assessment & Return-to-Work Case Study

See our blog articles related to this topic:

Contact Us for further advice and a quotation.

See our Useful Links page which includes diagnosis specific advice from organisations which can help.


The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and it is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regime, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Healthywork Ltd does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions or other information that may be mentioned on this website. Reliance on any information appearing on this website is solely at your own risk.

Pain using an Office Chair: 7 Top Tips

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