Due to our sedentary activities, the National Institutes of Health now estimate that adults in the U.S. spend upwards of eight hours a day sitting. If you’re one of those desk jockeys, you already know the resulting aches and pains from all that time in a chair. Lower back pain is rampant, and neck pain as well. However, we also know that many people don’t have a lot of choice in the matter. On top of this, many of the best office chairs for lower back pain are upwards of $1,000. We know that’s completely outside of a typical person’s budget. How can you find ergonomic office chairs that help reduce lower back pain, while also fitting into your budget? To help, we put together a list of the best office chairs for lower back pain that are under $300. Here’s five of the best.
How do you choose the best office chairs for lower back pain?
First, some guidelines for what makes a great chair. For those seated at a desk, ergonomics is more important than you may realize. Ergonomics is intended to modify the workplace to the comfort of the worker, minimizing discomfort and fatigue.
Poor ergonomics and staying in the same position for extended periods of time can cause a multitude of problems, back pain among them.
The best office chairs for lower back pain support your back and promote good posture. (See the recommended ergonomic posture below). They include most, if not all, of these features:
- Adjustable seat height and arm rests: Your should be able to sit with your feet flat on the floor, thighs horizontal, and arms even with the height of the desk. Your arms should be able to rest comfortably on your desk and your wrists should be flat when typing.
- Adjustable lumbar support: Lumbar support is an important part of a great chair. However, it has to be adjustable to your body or it could actually cause more pain. Look for those that have height, or even depth, adjustable lower back supports.
- Mesh back chairs: Mesh upholsteries are better able to flex and form around your back, better than leather or cushioned chairs.
- Correct seat depth: When sitting, your back should be full supported, and the backs of your knees shouldn’t be touching the seat pain.
- Waterfall design: Similarly, a waterfall seat edge (one that falls forward) can reduce pressure on your legs and encourage healthy blood circulation.
- Movement: It is also important that your chair can swivel to accommodate reaching different areas of the desk without straining. In addition, chairs with at least five legs are better able to roll without much effort. Some of the best chairs also encourage movement, as we’ll discuss shortly.
Made for your body
The best computer chairs for long hours are those that have all of these feature, and are also designed with your unique body in mind. What do we mean by this? Some chairs are better suited for tall people, others for shorter people. Some fit large frames, and others are made for people with smaller frames. They also have features you prefer–like whether or not they have head or arm rests, tilt options, and more. Read all the reviews closely before choosing a chair to find the one that best matches your body type.
With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at options for the best office chairs for lower back pain for you. This list is based on our trials and other customer reviews. It does not represent an endorsement from PainDoctor.com, nor do we make money from sharing these office chairs here. Prices given are current when this post was published–these prices may change over time.
Features: Skeletal back frame which provides comfortable, movable support, with mesh back, adjustable lumbar cushion, head rest, and arm rests
What users say: “If you have back pain and you’re on a budget, this is the chair for you. I suffer from inoperable, severe back pain, but I have a work-from-home desk job. I must be able to sit for long stretches of time. My previous chairs caused me a lot of pain, but this one is perfect and passes my two evaluations: the all-day pain test and the customer service test.”
Why you should consider this chair: We believe this is truly one of the best office chairs for lower back pain. It’s got an affordable price tag, with the substance and style of a much more expensive chair. All areas of the chair are easily adjusted. It also supports larger users. It suggests users be 220 pounds or less, but maximum weight is 330 pounds. The Spruce called it one of their favorite office chairs, as well.
Features: Height-adjustable, mesh fabric back, reclining, and has arm rests for an affordable price
What users say: “I’m a big guy, and I would kill other chairs rather quickly, but this one took my many end of a hard day flops, disappointing Chicago Bears games, and satisfying lean back arms behind my head kinda moments. Even the material has held up without a fray.”
Why you should consider this chair: Gadget Review calls this the best office chair under $200, and with its sleek look and customizable fabrics, it’s a top pick for a supportive office chair if you’re on a budget.
Features: 360º swiveling, adjustable arm, back, and head rests to make a chair that matches your needs exactly, with a high level of craftsmanship at an affordable price, and supports users up to 250 pounds
What users say: “It’s super adjustable, so I was able to put each part of the chair exactly where I wanted it. The seat back not only tilts and locks in place, but it also goes up and down so I can put the lumbar support part exactly where it needed to be without having to use extra cushions or anything to compensate. I didn’t know I needed my armrest to swivel, but it really helps keep me comfortable! The easy to read buttons on the side for adjustments are a nice touch, too. I haven’t seen many chairs with that feature.”
Why you should consider this chair: Few chairs in the $300 and less range offer the same ability to customize and create a chair that matches you perfectly. And, as Start Standing notes, it’s a gorgeous looking chair that would look great in a modern office. The controls are also well-marked and easy to change, even for those with arthritic hands.
Features: Active lumbar support, deep comfort with cushioned body pillows, adjustable armrests, and posture-correcting tilt technology that tilts your pelvis when you lean forward
What users say: “I suffer from RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy), and it is a degenerative, disabling disease that causes chronic pain in limbs; in my case, I suffer from nearly constant burning pain down my left leg, blow-torch burning…Having been a person with back problems, multiple surgeries, and chronic pain, I can overall strongly recommend this chair. If you’re in a similar situation to mine, the Serta just may be the answer to your problems.”
Why you should consider this chair: There’s a reason Omnicore named this the best ergonomic office chair under $300. This chair is made with Serta’s commitment to high-quality and ergonomic products. While not mesh-backed, it’s deeply supportive body pillos will be favored by some people. Supports users up to 250 pounds, and made for taller people.
Features: Contoured mesh back, with adjustable seat-height adjustment, waterfall padded seat, and a balanced five-caster base
What users say: “I’m pleasantly surprised by this chair. It definitely exceeded my expectations and I can see myself using it for a long time to come. It’s a comfortable and sturdy, no-frills, no-nonsense office chair. Well worth the money. I really like the seat cushion… I highly recommend it.”
Why you should consider this chair: Small, but mighty, this is the one of the best office chairs for lower back pain for people who are on a much more limited budget, coming in at only $65. Even with it’s lower price point, it still has many of the needed features for back support. Supports users up to 225 pounds.
Why is sitting so bad?
Chances are good that as you are reading this, you are participating in a dangerous activity, one that kills more people than smoking and HIV. Is it overeating? Consuming too much alcohol? Not even close. The most dangerous activity for your health has less to do with what you put into your body and more to do with how you use your body.
You may want to stand up for this: the worst thing you can do for your health is sitting.
The dangers of sitting have been well-examined in recent literature. A study published in January 2015 in the Annals of Internal Medicine clearly stated the most recent findings from research by Dr. David Alter, senior scientist, Toronto Rehab, University Health Network (UHN), and Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences: the longer you sit every day, higher your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and death. Although regular exercise can counteract the negative effects of sitting, even that is not enough to completely repair the damage done by a sedentary lifestyle.
Says lead author is Avi Biswas, PhD candidate, Toronto Rehab, UHN and the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto:
“The findings suggest that the health risk of sitting too much is less pronounced when physical activity is increased. We need further research to better understand how much physical activity is needed to offset the health risks associated with long sedentary time and optimize our health.”
How does sitting lead to lower back pain?
The dangers of sitting for too long, combined with the tendency of humans towards poor posture, greatly increases the chances for low back pain. In comparison to increased mortality rates, this may seem like a minor point. However, low back pain can be debilitating and expensive in terms of time, money, and quality of life. This can eventually lead to other poor health outcomes. The average worker spends ten hours a day sitting, either at work in meetings or in front of a computer. Then at home, they’re watching TV, online, or gaming. This continual pressure on the spine, with the head usually tilted forward at the top and the shoulders hunched forward can lead to back pain that eventually becomes chronic.
Chronic bad posture not only increases the amount of wear-and-tear on the vertebrae as they are being used incorrectly (leading to low back pain). It also actually makes you age faster.
A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine divided volunteers into two groups, one whose aim was to sit less and a control group who made no substantive changes to their health and fitness routine. After two blood tests to measure the length of study participants’ telomeres, researchers found that the group that made an effort to sit less showed telomeres that had lengthened from the beginning of the study to the end. Telomeres are the cap-like structures on the end of our DNA. As we age, they shorten and fray, a process that can be sped up by injury or illness. Simply standing up stopped the process of aging cells and actually made them younger as telomeres lengthened.
What can you do?
Besides buying an office chair with appropriate ergonomic and lower back support, the best thing you can do it to increase your movement. Amidst all of the grim statistics and predictions based on the increase in time sitting and decrease in exercise, there is remarkably encouraging news. The dangers of sitting for deadly disease, low back pain, and aging can be easily reversed by one simple action: standing up.
In a consensus statement, experts commissioned by Public Health England and the Active Working Community Interest Company in the UK had the following recommendations for decreasing sitting to improve health:
- Desk-based occupations should aim for adding two hours of standing to their day, eventually working towards four hours of standing.
- Companies should provide workers with desks that can be adjusted for both standing and sitting.
- Workers should expect some soreness and fatigue as they begin to decrease their sitting hours.
- Employers should strive to educate their workers on the dangers of too much sitting in their daily work and provide ample opportunities to make changes to workers’ routines in order to incorporate less sitting.
- When sitting is essential, chairs should be ergonomic.
How can you move more during the day?
More standing can easily be incorporated into your day by:
- Minimizing interoffice email: Workers should meet in person when possible.
- Re-thinking the traditional desk and chair: Treadmill desks increase activity and standing time, while exercise balls increase core strength and back stability.
- Instituting walking meetings: When possible, meetings should be conducted while walking.
- Taking regular breaks: Short breaks of five minutes or so to stand or stretch add up throughout the day.
- Standing up for phone calls
- Trying out a treadmill desk
Want even more tips for managing your lower back pain? You can find a pain doctor in your area by clicking the button below or looking for one in your area by using the tips here: https://paindoctor.com/pain-management-doctors/.