Sep. 20, 2011 at 5:48 PM ET
By Kara Reinhardt
The kids are all set up with their back-to-school supplies and dorm room essentials, but how does your desk look? If you’re making do with a kitchen chair or some other substitute, do your body a favor and consider a proper office chair. According to the U.S. Labor Department, it could save you from back pain, fatigue, restricted circulation, swelling, and numbness, among other ailments. And it doesn’t have to cost hundreds.
The advantages of using an office chair or computer chair start with lumbar support. The back of an office chair has a slight curve designed to fit snugly against the natural curve of your lower back. With wheels and a 360-degree swivel, it’s easy to get your hands on anything you need without reaching or twisting. A five-point or five-leg base makes for a more stable chair.
Adjustability is key to a good fit. While you may not be able to set every last piece of a low-cost chair to fit your frame, adjustable seat height is standard even in the budget price range. You can also find affordable office chairs with adjustable tilt. The best options in the category have padded, adjustable armrests as well. If the armrests don’t adjust, try to test out the chair before you buy. Your forearms should rest lightly on the arms of the chair with your shoulders back and down. The seat pan should be deep enough to fully support your thighs when your back is against the back of the chair but not so deep that your knees touch the edge of the seat or your feet don’t sit flat on the floor.
One thing you won’t find at this price is leather. However, imitation leathers wipe clean like the real thing and offer a high-end look. Many cheap desk chairs are also made from breathable mesh.
Below are Cheapism’s top picks for affordable office chairs.
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