Ergonomic Vs Non-Ergonomic: The Differences Explained

Ergonomic means something that is designed to make your work easier in the workplace. In this case, we will focus on the difference between ergonomic chairs and non-ergonomic chairs. We can draw the main difference from the definition of ergonomic. Ergonomic chairs are generally more efficient and more comfortable than non-ergonomic chairs. They are also known as “informative chairs”.

An ergonomic chair “learns” how to suit your style. The chair adapts to suit your body and the specific position you want to seat in. For a non-ergonomic chair, you have to adapt to the chair. This can leave you in an uncomfortable and unhealthy position. You may find  the great ergonomic kneeling chair for back  support.

Below, you will get to see in detail how ergonomic seats adapt to suit your needs. These features might seem like small details but they do a lot to improve your seating position.

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1. Adjustable Seat Height

Have you ever had to sit on a chair that was too short or too long for your height? Most people have and it is quite uncomfortable. This is what a non-ergonomic chair offers. You have to sit on the chair as it is. There is no opportunity to adjust the chair’s height. A chair that isn’t the right height could invite back problems into your life.

An ergonomic chair allows you to adjust the seat height according to your own height. Most seat sizes range from 16 – 21 inches from the floor. However, you can still find an ergonomic chair that starts from as low as 14 inches. This feature ensures that you can set the chair height to ensure that your feet are always flat on the floor. This facilitates circulation to your feet thus keeping your feet and back healthy.

2. Adjustable seat depth and width

Most non-ergonomic chairs come with a fixed chair depth and width. Manufacturers usually set the depth and width of the chair according to the height of an “average” person. This leaves people that are taller or shorter than the average person at a disadvantage. A short or tall person will not be comfortable in such a chair. This might lead to health problems for such a person especially if they have to sit on this chair for a long period of time.

Ergonomic chairs solve this issue by having adjustable seat depths and widths. The system allows you to tilt the seat forward or backward according to your height. This changes the depth of the chair and the width of the seat. It then decreases or increases the angle of the chair relative to your back depending on your the setting. An ergonomic chair thus ensures that you are in the most comfortable and healthy sitting position.

3. Adjustable lumbar support

A chair with lumbar support has a backrest that curves inward at the lumbar part of your back. Most ergonomic and non-ergonomic chairs have lumbar support. However, for non-ergonomic chairs, the lumbar support is fixed. If you are taller or shorter than the position of the lumbar support you will sit in an awkward position. You will most probably be leaning on the lumbar support which is bad news for your back.

Ergonomic chairs solve this problem by having an adjustable lumbar support mechanism. This mechanism allows you to adjust both the height and depth of the lumbar support. The chair is made this way to ensure that you can use the chair comfortably regardless of your height. Lumbar support is a crucial aspect of seating as it helps support the lumbar part of the spine when sitting.

The lumbar vertebrae of the backbone experience a greater load when seated. This makes it crucial that the area receives enough support when you’re seated. Adjustable lumbar support offers all the support you need especially if you spend a lot of your time seated.

4. Adjustable backrest

Non-ergonomic chairs usually have a fixed backrest. The width of most backrests is usually between 12 – 19 inches. Most people will fit onto such a width. However, for a non-ergonomic chair, the backrest is non-adjustable. This means that you cannot shift the backrest to suit your specific needs. Also, a fixed backrest leaves your back at the same position for a long period of time. This can lead to back complications.

Ergonomic chairs usually have an adjustable backrest. There are two main types of adjustable ergonomic backrests:

The first type is usually present in the type of chair where the backrest and the seat are separate. This arrangement allows you to change the angle and the height of the backrest.

The second type of backrest is found in a chair where the seat and the backrest connect. This locking mechanism allows you to set the angle of the backrest forwards or backward. It also locks the backrest to ensures safety when seated.

5. Additional padding

Most non-ergonomic chairs have enough padding to ensure that you are comfortably seated. However, the padding on these chairs is not usually enough for long periods of sitting. More often than not, non-ergonomic chairs get uncomfortable very fast. The parts that are most affected by poor padding are your hips. They get exposed to the hard surface for a long time and this can be very uncomfortable. This is not good for your health and your productivity.

Ergonomic chairs usually have extra padding on the seat and the backrest. This makes it a great chair for long sitting periods. The extra padding provides the extra comfort required to make your entire day productive. Also, ergonomic chairs are usually wrapped in quality leather or cloth. This increases the durability, beauty and comfort levels of the chairs.

6. Adjustable Armrests

A non-ergonomic chair has fixed armrests. The manufacturers suggest that the design fits anyone who sits on the chair. However, most of them fail to take into consideration the fact that people have varying heights. Fixed armrests also mean that your hands can only rest in one position during the entire time that you are seated.

Adjustable armrests in ergonomic chairs ensure that you can adjust the armrests to the most comfortable setting. The armrests can move up and down, side to side and forwards or backward. This provides a wide range of settings that you can use to your advantage to ensure that your arms always rest in a comfortable position.

7. Swivel and Extra base support

Most ergonomic and non-ergonomic chairs have the swivel function. However, in ergonomic chairs, the swivel is usually more durable. The swivel ensures that you can swing the chair around your working area instead of having to stand up.

Ergonomic chairs generally have a wider and stronger base compared to non-ergonomic chairs. The wider the base of a chair the more stable it is. This ensures that you are safer as you move around your workplace on the chair.

8. Head and Neck Adjustment

Non-ergonomic chairs usually have a fixed headrest. You cannot use this chair comfortably if you are taller or shorter than the height of the chair. This can damage your neck especially if you use this chair consistently.

Ergonomic chairs offer a solution by having adjustable headrests. This means that you can adjust the headrest of your chair according to your height. The headrest provides a comfortable place to lean back whenever you feel tired. It reduces the strain on your neck muscles whenever you need to take a break.

Benefits of ergonomic chairs

Ergonomic chairs offer numerous benefits including health and productivity benefits.

1. Health

Ergonomic chairs benefit various parts of your body in different ways.

  • Posture- A correct posture puts less strain on your body. This ensures that you are less likely to suffer from body pain. The best sitting position is when your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Back- As stated earlier, your lower back experiences more stress when you’re sitting. An ergonomic seat provides the extra support that your lower back needs to remain healthy. In addition, the seat also provides support for your entire back.
  • Hips- The extra padding on ergonomic chairs provide adequate comfort for your hips. Non-ergonomic chairs are usually hard on the hips making them rather uncomfortable.
  • Head and Neck- The head and neck support on ergonomic chairs ensure that your neck doesn’t undergo unnecessary strain. This ensures that your neck remains healthy.

2. Productivity

Naturally, productivity increases with comfort. You will be more productive if you are sitting in a comfortable seat. The fact that it is adjustable on so many places ensures that you choose a more comfortable position if you start getting tired.


From the above comparison, you can clearly see that ergonomic chairs are better than non-ergonomic chairs. You cannot ignore the advantages that ergonomic chairs offer. Ergonomic chairs are the best way to guarantee that your job won’t have a negative effect on your health.

Ergonomic chairs a bit more expensive than non-ergonomic chairs. However, the extra price you pay will be completely worth it. As stated in the introduction, an ergonomic chair is an “informative chair”. It reads you and adapts to your needs.

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Daniel is a chair specialist who has researched about gaming chair, office chair, recliner chair, massage chair, etc. He has sound skills and experiences in sitting posture, ergonomic posture, back pain, etc. Daniel is a regular writer on this blog.

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